PDA

View Full Version : After the "estimate"


BC1230
10-14-2011, 03:18 PM
Jumping into this headfirst(good thing I have a hard head). After you estimate a residential lawn for regular mowing, how do you set up payments with your customer? Do you charge per cut? monthly? Is the majority using contracts? Or does this tend to scare people off? Thanks guys

Green Industry Pro
10-14-2011, 03:29 PM
Jumping into this headfirst(good thing I have a hard head). After you estimate a residential lawn for regular mowing, how do you set up payments with your customer? Do you charge per cut? monthly? Is the majority using contracts? Or does this tend to scare people off? Thanks guys

Contracted work is the best. Less hassle. If its a one time cut then obviously you don't need one but if you will be cutting this same account all year or for many months straight, then use a contract. I think a contract can bring a client security in one way because you are locked into doing your job right. Contract = no surprises for you or customer. I'm personally trying to work on getting my company moved into doing large residential lots or commercial accounts instead of smaller residentials. Once I switch over I can run a stand on or rider over the property and be done in no time with less fatigue.

weeze
10-14-2011, 06:54 PM
i let the customer decide how they want to pay...some pay every time i visit and a few pay once a month...i don't do any contracts and i haven't had any problems.

mykayel
10-15-2011, 09:22 PM
This was my first year (since cutting in highschool about 10 years ago) and I did contracts with every person. And I would just bill them at the end of the month with payment due by the 15th. This has worked reasonably well. The only probably is that I've had a one customer that just never paid me. So by the time the 15th rolled around I had already cut 6 times and hadn't got paid yet. I threatened to turn them over to a collection agency but that didn't matter to them. I haven't done anything yet. I could take them to small claims or actually turn them over to the collection agency but its not really worth the effort to me to try and get anything out of them. I'm just going to take it as a loss. I had two other customers that dropped me in the middle of the year, and same thing, I had two cuts with each of them that they never paid for.

For next year I'm contemplainting making them pre-pay for the month. Then at the end of the month I'll bill them for the next month. This way I'll at least get paid and not work for free with a new customer. I'm just a little worried about scary away any new customers this way. Some of the big companies have them pre-pay for the year and will give a discount for doing it this way.

THIESSENS TLC
10-15-2011, 09:39 PM
I've never used contracts and I've never had a problem...yet! lol. I'm definitly thinking of getting at least 2 weeks pay in advance for new customers next year.

TMScapes
10-20-2011, 02:52 PM
I am pursuing the contracted way. Here in the north east I will figure out spring and fall cleanups, pruning, and weekly visits and do an installment plan. I worked for a large firm before going out on my own and this worked out well. It helps you plan your year and you know how much $ u have coming in. In doing a 9 insatallment plant i am only chasing people for money 9 times instead of 30-35. Remember its about customer education and the art of giving the customer what they want without loosing control of the situation. Sell them on "its better for everyopne. No surprises, and you know what you have tp set aside for the year" Go Get em!!

stickleylawncare
10-20-2011, 03:08 PM
We don't require contracts, but we offer a small discount if they sign up for a yearly contract. We bill once a month either by mail or email if they opted in.

TMScapes
10-20-2011, 03:19 PM
We don't require contracts, but we offer a small discount if they sign up for a yearly contract. We bill once a month either by mail or email if they opted in.

discounts are a good way. I like that. I convinced a habitually bad payer into a 5 % discount to pay in full for the year. He went for it!!!

guitarman2420
10-22-2011, 06:13 PM
95% of all my business is contracts - why wouldn't you want contracts? A very wise business man told me years ago - without an annual contract you have exactly one day's worth of guaranteed business. As you grow your business and decide to go to any bank or SBA, or lending institution, they want to know about your assets. A contract is a binding, legal asset and is listed on your application as equity. I can make business decisions now based upon a guaranteed (I know, I know, nothing in this world is guaranteed) stream of revenue. If I'm strictly doing fee for service work, without a contract I am always at the mercy of a cheaper price, or the occasional screw up that myself or an employee might make. By having a contract I have the right to be able to fix a problem before they terminate the service. Some people are scared of agreements because it fixes some of your costs; but it is preferable to going month to month. I simply figure the entire cost of the service for a year - mowing, leaves, fertilizer, weed treatments, shrubs, aeration, etc. (they can pick and choose) and simply divide it by 12. They like it because payments are lower and I like it because it allows me to have income in the winter and it forces me to BUDGET. The only cautionary tale is don't include mulch in your annual agreement. My experience has shown to make that service billable and extra. You don't want to install $500 of mulch the first month of an agreement and then have them go bad on you. I've been doing it this way for over 5 years now and have less than 1% bad debt. The key is keeping on top of your accounts payable. If someone falls more than 1 month behind you have to cut them off and I bill them at the beginning of the month for the service that they will receive that month. Don't be afraid to ask - the client will do it if they value you. Have gone from $0 to $350k annualized revenue with this approach in 5 years.

fireman gus
10-23-2011, 10:39 AM
We basicly let the client choose how they want to pay. We have 2 that insists on paying each time. The rest are billed monthly, either by written statement left at the door, e-mail, or credit card.

MarkintheGarden
10-25-2011, 03:18 AM
It is best to give the customer options, but when you know how you want to do business, there are ways to convince them that there advantages. I like that I have both contracts and pay per service accounts.

hackitdown
10-25-2011, 09:25 AM
I do no contracts for mowing. Customers are billed monthly.

I do an agreement of sorts for snow removal. It just spells out when I will come, and how much I charge. No commitments.

32vld
10-25-2011, 08:14 PM
Pay me cash when I'm done doing weekly mow.

From the day I show up they have seven days to get their hands on cash to be ready for the next time. There's no surprise as to when and how much they will have on hand for when I show up. During those seven days they will conveniently pass their bank or ATM.

Don't have to bill. No bad checks.

I don't get upset if their not home to pay me when I'm done.

If they call me to say I sorry I missed you today can you come by later today. My response is no problem, or if not good I tell them so and then say I will be in your area later in the week is that good for you, if not you can take care of me when I come to mow you next week.

If they can't get their hands on cash to cover the price of a mow every week tells me that they won't be able to put the money into a checking account to pay me.

Just look at the people that posted on this thread that have gotten stiffed.

stickleylawncare
10-25-2011, 09:23 PM
Do you have to literally get cash in hand from every single one of your customers every week? That seems like a pain in the butt! I hate doing billing monthly and just waiting for the mail to deliver my money, Id go crazy doing collecting weekly face to face.

32vld
10-25-2011, 11:05 PM
Do you have to literally get cash in hand from every single one of your customers every week? That seems like a pain in the butt! I hate doing billing monthly and just waiting for the mail to deliver my money, Id go crazy doing collecting weekly face to face.

No.

I thought I made that clear. If convenient for them or me I pick up later if in their neighborhood. Also have no problem waiting till next week.

No writing bills.

No mailing bills and postage costs.

No sending out late payment past due bills.

No getting stiffed after doing a lawn for 6 weeks.

No opening mail, recording payments.

No going to bank.

No waiting for checks to clear.

No bounced checks.

No problem knocking on door when done, sometimes they come to me when i'm loading up. Either way a little face time to maintain personal relationship, make yourself available to here customer concerns before they cost you the account, chance to up sell, and I open my book turn to their page write the date, charge, mark paid. Tell them thank you.

Best part as I said before if they can't get their hands on the necessary cash to pay for a mowing every week you know then chances are they are not going to be good payers. I don't have to pay for or do a credit check on people.

For less work because no mailing bills. Which lowers my costs. Also time better spent mowing lawns then sending out bills. No going crazy waiting for the checks to come in.

Now if I did commercial corporate work then...... but that's one reason I don't want commercial at this time.

MarkintheGarden
10-26-2011, 09:35 AM
No.

I thought I made that clear. If convenient for them or me I pick up later if in their neighborhood. Also have no problem waiting till next week.

No writing bills.

No mailing bills and postage costs.

No sending out late payment past due bills.

No getting stiffed after doing a lawn for 6 weeks.

No opening mail, recording payments.

No going to bank.

No waiting for checks to clear.

No bounced checks.

No problem knocking on door when done, sometimes they come to me when i'm loading up. Either way a little face time to maintain personal relationship, make yourself available to here customer concerns before they cost you the account, chance to up sell, and I open my book turn to their page write the date, charge, mark paid. Tell them thank you.

Best part as I said before if they can't get their hands on the necessary cash to pay for a mowing every week you know then chances are they are not going to be good payers. I don't have to pay for or do a credit check on people.

For less work because no mailing bills. Which lowers my costs. Also time better spent mowing lawns then sending out bills. No going crazy waiting for the checks to come in.

Now if I did commercial corporate work then...... but that's one reason I don't want commercial at this time.


If this is what works for you then that is fine. Most of my customers are at work when I service the lawns and we are both too busy to do cash transactions weekly. I have had a couple customers who have paid me like this, but not many.

Darryl G
10-26-2011, 10:09 AM
No.

I thought I made that clear. If convenient for them or me I pick up later if in their neighborhood. Also have no problem waiting till next week.

No writing bills.

No mailing bills and postage costs.

No sending out late payment past due bills.

No getting stiffed after doing a lawn for 6 weeks.

No opening mail, recording payments.

No going to bank.

No waiting for checks to clear.

No bounced checks.

No problem knocking on door when done, sometimes they come to me when i'm loading up. Either way a little face time to maintain personal relationship, make yourself available to here customer concerns before they cost you the account, chance to up sell, and I open my book turn to their page write the date, charge, mark paid. Tell them thank you.

Best part as I said before if they can't get their hands on the necessary cash to pay for a mowing every week you know then chances are they are not going to be good payers. I don't have to pay for or do a credit check on people.

For less work because no mailing bills. Which lowers my costs. Also time better spent mowing lawns then sending out bills. No going crazy waiting for the checks to come in.

Now if I did commercial corporate work then...... but that's one reason I don't want commercial at this time.


No recording payments? No going to the bank? Sounds like you're doing this all under the table and just stuffing the cash in your pocket.

I find that sending a monthly invoice and having a check sent to my PO box is best for running a legitimate business. I have an invoice to apply their payment to, they have a record of their payment (cancelled check) and I can easily track the money I've received for paying my state sales & use tax and for federal tax purposes. I can't imagine having to collect from each of my customers every week and having to track them down when they are home. I have customers that I see perhaps once or twice a season. I have in the past had customers that I never even met. How do I collect from my seasonal residents if not by check or from the owner of a vacant rental property?

32vld
10-26-2011, 05:43 PM
All of my customers are retired and route is small. If the day comes when the numbers and schedules make what I do no longer simple and easy then I guess I will have to change.

Georgia Lawn
10-26-2011, 11:13 PM
We used to not use contracts for our maintenance customers. If we did a good job, showed up and responded to their requests as fast as possible they stayed with us.