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Green Finger
03-16-2009, 07:48 PM
Ok not sure if this was mention. You have a client that you charged top dollar. They paid on time. Tipped also. Never complained about their bill. You do the work they pay. When your mower broke down. They were patient. When your goffie employees broke a window at their house. You paid for it but they were fine.

Now they have lost their job.

Question do you continue to cut their grass. until they can get back on their feet?

Do you stick by them when they stucked by you?

Woody82986
03-16-2009, 08:06 PM
I think there is a small difference between them waiting a couple days to get their lawn cut while your mower was in the shop, and you totally floating them lawn maintenance services while they have no funds coming in. I'd say if they know they will be back on their feet soon enough and can still afford paying at least a partial payment for a couple months and agree in writing to make up the remainder in a couple months when they are cashing paychecks again, then it might be a risk you would be interested in taking. The problem is that even if you guys figure out a plan and get it in writing, there's still a chance you might end up getting burned. I guess this is a classic "risk vs. reward" scenario. Personally, if they won't even be able to make partial payments for a couple months then I really have no use for them as a continuing client.

Green Finger
03-16-2009, 08:15 PM
I think there is a small difference between them waiting a couple days to get their lawn cut while your mower was in the shop, and you totally floating them lawn maintenance services while they have no funds coming in. I'd say if they know they will be back on their feet soon enough and can still afford paying at least a partial payment for a couple months and agree in writing to make up the remainder in a couple months when they are cashing paychecks again, then it might be a risk you would be interested in taking. The problem is that even if you guys figure out a plan and get it in writing, there's still a chance you might end up getting burned. I guess this is a classic "risk vs. reward" scenario. Personally, if they won't even be able to make partial payments for a couple months then I really have no use for them as a continuing client.

So I have you down for a no pay, no play? (mow)

kaferhaus
03-16-2009, 08:16 PM
I think there is a small difference between them waiting a couple days to get their lawn cut while your mower was in the shop, and you totally floating them lawn maintenance services while they have no funds coming in. I'd say if they know they will be back on their feet soon enough and can still afford paying at least a partial payment for a couple months and agree in writing to make up the remainder in a couple months when they are cashing paychecks again, then it might be a risk you would be interested in taking. The problem is that even if you guys figure out a plan and get it in writing, there's still a chance you might end up getting burned. I guess this is a classic "risk vs. reward" scenario. Personally, if they won't even be able to make partial payments for a couple months then I really have no use for them as a continuing client.

Yup, and if they end up filing bankruptcy... you're toast.

Your heart is in the right place but it won't feed your family.

ktfinch2000
03-16-2009, 08:18 PM
I Think so to a certain point. Maybe offer to do thier mowing discounted until they get on thier feet orfor a few weeks. Its a tough question because everyone is hurting now. People are beating everyone up for deals these days. I do custom cabinetry full time and landscaping part time. I have had potential customers looking for custom built cabinets for way less than the big box stores charge. They know there is no comparison in quality to what I offer but they use the economy excuse like a pair of underwear lately. I had a women call me today and wanted an 8'x10' l shaped kitchen done. She thought she could get cabinets custom made for a $1000. I can even get a 1/4 of the material for that. I try to tell them that when my overhead costs come down then I can lower the price or maybe if my landlord will give me a discount on rent. I know times are tough but the customer needs to know its tough for you also. So far this year I haven't had to many clients looking for huge discounts with weekly lawn care but time will tell. Good Luck!

topsites
03-16-2009, 08:24 PM
There are things I can do, such as lengthening the time interval between services, this reduces the amount due per year.
I can cut other services as well and drive the annual maintenance cost way down, anywhere from a little bit to all but the most essential.
For instance, we can skip the mulch, just as an example, we might only trim the bushes once or not at all,
I might be able to knock $5 off the mow if I can just mow-n-blo for a bit, and so on...

I could also, if it's just a glitch meaning they found a job and things are looking up, cross off some smaller bill as "paid" one time.

I have no problem doing that, and it involves compromise, they did it for me, I'll do it for them.
But for free, no.

tamadrummer
03-16-2009, 08:38 PM
If they are hard working people and you know they will be out looking for work so they will not be free forever. GO FOR IT! I would not hesitate to do it for a second! I have done it and will do it again!

It has never hurt me and in the end they will be blessed by you and you will be blessed by them! This is not something that I blab about to the neighbors or common friends, these people have enough to deal with as far as losing their jobs and personally I don't need the pat on the back, in fact I don't want it. I just take care of them and in return they will get back on their feet and care for you.

An open hand can actually allow things to flow in and out but a closed hand can only hold onto what is already in it and it doesn't gain anything in the end.

QualityLawnCare4u
03-16-2009, 08:59 PM
Greenfinger, like above poster said, your heart is in the right place. But remember, this is a business, not personal. I have a kind heart also and it has gottem me burned many many times. Let me ask you this, if you have been paying your electric bill for years without missing a payment, then can't pay it anymore, do you think they give a rats azz? Nope, your power will be turned off.

You have never missed a car payment then get behind, your car gets repossed. Its a tough world out there but business is business. I might do it for them a couple of times and this is a might. We are in biz to pay our bills, if they can't pay, you can't pay. I hate folks having a hard time but I will not make their problem my problem. I have made execeptions for folks who have gotten sick or disabled that I have helped for a short time, but that is only for a short time.

BTW, if they have lost their income they will probably have to let you go anyway. I know this sounds cruel but over the years my skin has gotten a lot thicker!

ALC-GregH
03-16-2009, 09:15 PM
If they are hard working people and you know they will be out looking for work so they will not be free forever. GO FOR IT! I would not hesitate to do it for a second! I have done it and will do it again!

It has never hurt me and in the end they will be blessed by you and you will be blessed by them! This is not something that I blab about to the neighbors or common friends, these people have enough to deal with as far as losing their jobs and personally I don't need the pat on the back, in fact I don't want it. I just take care of them and in return they will get back on their feet and care for you.

An open hand can actually allow things to flow in and out but a closed hand can only hold onto what is already in it and it doesn't gain anything in the end.

I like the way you think. :)

lifetree
03-16-2009, 09:24 PM
There are things I can do, such as lengthening the time interval between services, this reduces the amount due per year.
I can cut other services as well and drive the annual maintenance cost way down, anywhere from a little bit to all but the most essential.

For instance, we can skip the mulch, just as an example, we might only trim the bushes once or not at all, I might be able to knock $5 off the mow if I can just mow-n-blo for a bit, and so on ... I could also, if it's just a glitch meaning they found a job and things are looking up, cross off some smaller bill as "paid" one time.

I have no problem doing that, and it involves compromise, they did it for me, I'll do it for them ... But for free, no.

I have to agree with topsites on this !!

lifetree
03-16-2009, 09:27 PM
... An open hand can actually allow things to flow in and out but a closed hand can only hold onto what is already in it and it doesn't gain anything in the end.

This is very admirable ... however, I must ask what your experience was with those that you did this for ... did they end up paying the final bill, or not ??

Stihl036pro
03-16-2009, 09:40 PM
If you loose your job do to the economy being bad. You think your mortgage Company is going to if you a break. I dont think so. Or if your car or truck payment is not made. Honestly, sounds really nice to consider something like that but It should not be that way.

Stihl036pro
03-16-2009, 09:43 PM
We are Service professionals and the lawn and landscape industry needs to be run in a professional way. Any other business would not really condsier that.

fiveoboy01
03-16-2009, 09:49 PM
Really?

Plenty of companies will "cut you a break" if you can't pay your bill, as long as you attempt to work something out with them.

Now if I was in that situation I may help them out for a little while... It takes time and hard work to build a good solid relationship with a customer... And that is something I value greatly, and not something I would toss over a few mow/trim/blows especially if they have paid for many additional services, or given me numerous referrals over the years.

You guys look at it wrong, you're looking at it short term.... Think about how much it costs, and how much time it takes... to obtain a new customer, build their trust, etc.... To me it costs more to do that, than to help a customer out if it will mean you will keep them in the long run.

Now would I start doing that if half my customers lost their jobs? No, because my profit would be gone. But one here and there, if they met the criteria you described above, then yes I would consider helping them out for a short period of time.

tamadrummer
03-16-2009, 09:51 PM
This is very admirable ... however, I must ask what your experience was with those that you did this for ... did they end up paying the final bill, or not ??

Yes for the ones that have regained employment and I currently have others that I am doing this for now.

I know that in the end, I will not be harmed for helping even if they never can pay.

In this past 4 weeks I have gained 6 accounts in the driest part of our year and been tipped a few hundred dollars for no reason other than they wanted to do so.

I am a Christian and in that I don't mean to set myself above or below anyone it is simply an explanation for why I would do something like this. I have no alterior motive just to help.

PROCUT1
03-16-2009, 09:51 PM
I agree with most.

If they lost their job that means they have plenty of time to push their own lawnmower.

None of their other bills are going to give a rats tail.

I wouldnt do it. I dont do work for free.

With that said. There are exceptions. A member of the military on hard times due to the service........An injured firefighter recovering from a heroic effort....

Something to that effect, Ill gladly help just because its a good thing to do and makes you feel good.

Someone who just wants a service they cannot afford.....No way.

PROCUT1
03-16-2009, 09:52 PM
Also with that said. If they have a skill that I need. I am all for bartering services.

mikec_j
03-16-2009, 10:04 PM
I agree that helping because it is the right thing to do will take you farther in the long run both professionaly and personally. It may come in the form of tips or referrals or maybe he helps out with services you need?. That is what built this country from the ground up the store owner waiting for payment for you flour or bacon, the blacksmith fixing your plow to sow your crop only to be paid when it came in, or the vet helping out with your livestock,these are all acts of people that form a community.A little faith and trust can go along way.

swim
03-16-2009, 10:11 PM
If they have been a good customer paying on time and doing extras for a few years, 5 or more, I will do what ever I can to help them through a tough time, not forever, but for a few months, you bet. Good customers are hard to come by, and even harder to get rid of.:laugh:

HOOLIE
03-16-2009, 10:54 PM
It's not our place to assume things...not sure how the topic of the job loss came up, but unless the specifically asked "Hey, how 'bout mowing for free" I would just go on about mowing and bill them as normal. I had a customer out of work for a YEAR, and I learned there are people out there with significant emergency funds. She kept paying and I never insulted her by suggesting that she couldn't afford my services.

If you do cut them a break, just write it off. Nobody's going to want to repay you for months and months of mowing once they get a job.

FourTrees
03-17-2009, 03:18 AM
Let me ask you this, if you have been paying your electric bill for years without missing a payment, then can't pay it anymore, do you think they give a rats azz? Nope, your power will be turned off.

You have never missed a car payment then get behind, your car gets repossed. Its a tough world out there but business is business.

Actually car loans and even electric companies will ,ost likely work with you, if it is a short term thing.

If you loose your job do to the economy being bad. You think your mortgage Company is going to if you a break. I dont think so. Or if your car or truck payment is not made. Honestly, sounds really nice to consider something like that but It should not be that way.

Again they are more willing to work with you than you give them credit for.

We are Service professionals and the lawn and landscape industry needs to be run in a professional way. Any other business would not really condsier that.

Again just not true, even most big companies are in it for their good repoing you and losing you as a customer is not in their best interest, usually you can strike up a deal.

If they have been a good customer paying on time and doing extras for a few years, 5 or more, I will do what ever I can to help them through a tough time, not forever, but for a few months, you bet. Good customers are hard to come by, and even harder to get rid of.:laugh:

I agree will. Will I float them 100% no. Are they hard working, if yes then give them the help you can. Build them into a loyal customer. I've had a guy that hit some hard times and helped him a bit. He got me paid eventually and actually landed me a $8000 a year job.

Spread their payments out.

Fert less.

Skip a full spring cleanup, just do what is necessary.

Offer discount for referrals.

Early spring before growth kicks in, hot summer, and pre-leaf fall: skip a week as you can.

A lot of people are affected in these tough times. Do your part and when the economy recovers you will still have good solid, even more loyal clients. This economy will recover and so will most of your clients. Don't count them out.

As OP stated some of them have cut you a break here and there.

Stihl036pro
03-17-2009, 09:14 AM
You guys are making some good points. But.. With my business with my workers. I have to pay them to cut the customers lawn with or without getting paid from the customers my-self. so with that being said I cant not do work for free. On the other hand if I were a Solo operation and had a customer that I had gotten to know over the years. Than I would help them but not give away my service for free. It depends on a lot of things. Your overhead for instance. Every business is completely different on how the operation of the business is run.

Stihl036pro
03-17-2009, 09:18 AM
Thats why contracts are the way to go. The customer pays one price per month for the contract term for all services and it does not change. Then the customer can budget and plan. You can make a lawn maintenance program to fit there needs based on what they can afford. Simple and easy and there is no guess work as how much they can afford......

kaferhaus
03-17-2009, 09:37 AM
IF I were a solo perhaps I'd re-think my position... maybe.

However I have to pay my crews. I can't afford to send them out on non-paying jobs. And with WC insurance you're paying off your payroll so I'd get hit double.... paying WC on labor spent on non-paying jobs.

The biggest fear (mine anyway), is if they should file bankruptcy or get foreclosed on and their in my pocket for either several hundred or a thousand dollars or more.

Fortuately I haven't had to make many of those decisions. It's always tough to tell a customer "no" because more likely than not they're gone once you do. However usually the alternative is worse.

And sure the power company will work with you "short term", so will the Gas Co. etc. But they're not going to carry you very long. But those companies have billions in assets. I don't.

So far as repo's go, the bank or other lender will usually let you "skip" a payment and add it to the back end of the loan ONCE. They never let you make partial payments unless it's to catch up a "late month". (one of my kids has gone through this).

And the "bailout" money is going to banks with "losses", they can't write off your loan and declare it a "loss" unless they've classified the loan as being in default.

Same thing with mortgages, if you have a fannie mae or freddie mac insured loan, the lender loses nothing if they forclose on you as the govt' has to pay them. So there's no motive for them NOT to foreclose it's actually in their interest if you're having problems.

FHA loans are the same way... govt guaranteed. Which of course means YOUR tax money.

yardatwork
03-17-2009, 09:58 AM
So wait...you only have ONE NICE ON TIME PAYING CUSTOMER? I bet you answer 'no' to that question. So if you do this favor for one customer, then you should do it for all of your customers. Maybe all of your other customers still have their jobs now. But...what ft more start losing their jobs. Will you stick by them as well? Will you be willing to work for free until they all find jobs again? Look at it this way...that client will be home now and have the extra time to take care of their own property so there is no need for you to do the work and do it for free. I stand by my customers and give them an extra week or two or even a month to pay a bill, but I don't work for free!

Lawn Pawn
03-17-2009, 10:56 AM
Wow..... really a lot of good answers. It's almost impossible to say what may be in the best thing to do.

In my case... my case only, given what the original post said, If I could afford it!! I would carry the person long as I could afford to. My own family would come first, no food off their table.

I have carried a couple accounts years ago before they went chapter 11. Biggest single loss for me was $1500.00 in the end. They were up to $4500.00 for a while, but got it down to 15 before they bailed. That did really hurt my books, but I think of all the years they were with me.

KrayzKajun
03-17-2009, 11:00 AM
I agree with topsites!

HOOLIE
03-17-2009, 01:39 PM
Thats why contracts are the way to go. The customer pays one price per month for the contract term for all services and it does not change. Then the customer can budget and plan. You can make a lawn maintenance program to fit there needs based on what they can afford. Simple and easy and there is no guess work as how much they can afford......

Did you read the post?? The customer LOST his job...not a question of budgeting.

SimonCX
03-17-2009, 02:10 PM
Sorry but business is business and I don't do this for free. I can cut things out for someone to make it easier for them for the time being but I would not keep doing there lawn if the check is not coming. How many clients would care if one day something happened to you and you could not come for the next 4-5 months? I doubt you would have many that would stick with you after. Your intenations are good but you have to remember about your butt too if they can't pay you later.

fiveoboy01
03-17-2009, 03:04 PM
However I have to pay my crews. I can't afford to send them out on non-paying jobs. And with WC insurance you're paying off your payroll so I'd get hit double.... paying WC on labor spent on non-paying jobs.

Now that's a good argument for not helping out.

If I had numerous employees I'd definitely re-think my answer which I gave a few posts back. But for now, being(almost) solo, I stick by what I said.

MSS Mow
03-17-2009, 03:51 PM
I helped a guy out last summer and mowed his lawn most of the summer after their house burned flat and were living elsewhere. It was only a small lawn (20 minutes tops) but I did it for several months and refused to take any money, even when he insisted on paying. That's how small town folks help each other out. Others were donating food, money, etc, while I was able to donate a little time. It comes full circle. In fact, several weeks ago, I needed a couple miles of road pushed back (snow banks) and this guy used his 10-wheeler truck (with wing) and did it for nothing. I would have otherwise had to pay someone else to come in and do the same thing he did for nothing. We chatted afterwards and discussed how living in a small town really was great.

I've got a lawn customer that is going through some tough medical problems right now, and once I start mowing in May, they won't be charged until they are back on their feet, period. Now again, we're not talking big fish here, This is another $25 job where I'm already dropping the gate for a neighbor. This particular customer, I helped out once before when the husband was injured and couldn't work for a couple months. He had always mowed his own lawn, and couldn't once injured so I jumped in and did it for nothing until he got back to work, and immediately, they started paying. Voila, new customer! I didn't expect any back pay either. Again, small town friends help each other as much as possible.

ruffs
03-17-2009, 03:54 PM
for a good customer i would ask them what they wanted to do, I wouldnt stop till they told me they had to let me go. i dont belive i would ever do it for free, but working out a payment plan (less $ over more months). or a diff maitnence plan ( every other week). I dont have contracts so im flexible. but if somone dosnt pay what we agree on i cant work for them. and they will always owe me untill they pay. After they pay there dept then i can do work for them again. Its always the right thing to do when somone is going through a tragity but i think loosing your job is diff and lawn servise is a luxuriy. or mabe you can ask him to pay you and not show up to do the work because you lost him as a customer.

Stihl036pro
03-17-2009, 03:55 PM
This is like compair apples to oranges with some companies on here. Every company is different.

ruffs
03-17-2009, 04:05 PM
i agree and every customer is diff .... I just dont know how to do charity without becoming one. Mabe I would offer him work. i was raised a handout dosnt do anybody any good.

Green Finger
03-17-2009, 10:01 PM
i agree and every customer is diff .... I just dont know how to do charity without becoming one. Mabe I would offer him work. i was raised a handout dosnt do anybody any good.

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Ruff you never know when you might need a hand.

HulkXD
03-18-2009, 03:13 AM
There's a huge difference in getting a hand and getting a handout.

Imagine you fall down, and I reach to help you up. That's a good thing.

But if you flop down, and I give you a forklift, that's not the same thing.

topsites
03-18-2009, 03:58 AM
It's all good, for a certain someone, I suppose...

But I always try and remember, the line of folks wanting free service grows long, fast.
And if it takes a tragedy to get there, the bad luck stories can mount just as quick, too.
Now that may not be all right...

But it's a door I like to keep closed because I also believe my service is a luxury.

PLS-Tx
03-18-2009, 10:45 AM
[QUOTE=PROCUT1;2857682]I agree with most.

If they lost their job that means they have plenty of time to push their own lawnmower.

None of their other bills are going to give a rats tail.

I wouldnt do it. I dont do work for free.

With that said. There are exceptions. A member of the military on hard times due to the service........An injured firefighter recovering from a heroic effort....

Something to that effect, Ill gladly help just because its a good thing to do and makes you feel good.





Maybe they don't have the equipment, and now with no income they don't want to spend the $, for something they may only need for a short time.

Also, they may be spending their time looking for a job, and not want to take the time to do the lawn.

So, for us it would depend on the situation.

PROCUT1
03-18-2009, 12:54 PM
[QUOTE=PROCUT1;2857682]I agree with most.

If they lost their job that means they have plenty of time to push their own lawnmower.

None of their other bills are going to give a rats tail.

I wouldnt do it. I dont do work for free.

With that said. There are exceptions. A member of the military on hard times due to the service........An injured firefighter recovering from a heroic effort....

Something to that effect, Ill gladly help just because its a good thing to do and makes you feel good.





Maybe they don't have the equipment, and now with no income they don't want to spend the $, for something they may only need for a short time.

Also, they may be spending their time looking for a job, and not want to take the time to do the lawn.

So, for us it would depend on the situation.


I dont disagree. Thats the beauty of being business owners. We can make any decision we want.

There are many things I do that may not make perfect business sense but they just make me feel good.

If it makes you feel good to help someone out, then by all means do it.

ed2hess
03-18-2009, 10:01 PM
Just go work out a contract with them just like the credit card company. Put a 10% interest on the unpaid balance and tell them to pay what they can.

Stihl036pro
03-18-2009, 10:09 PM
I cant believe this thread has 4 pages of responses.

Stihl036pro
03-18-2009, 10:11 PM
or wait..... 5 pages now

GravelyGuy
03-18-2009, 10:15 PM
I agree with most.

If they lost their job that means they have plenty of time to push their own lawnmower.

None of their other bills are going to give a rats tail.

I wouldnt do it. I dont do work for free.

With that said. There are exceptions. A member of the military on hard times due to the service........An injured firefighter recovering from a heroic effort....

Something to that effect, Ill gladly help just because its a good thing to do and makes you feel good.

Someone who just wants a service they cannot afford.....No way.

I pretty much agree with this. I have quite a few very nice, sincere customers. I also have quite a few that would take your eyes if they thought they could.

There is always exceptions to everything though.