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Matt's Mowing Service
01-08-2012, 06:49 PM
How do you guys communicate to new customers on how they need to pay you? Do you have them pay monthly or weekly and do you bill them or trust them to keep up payments? How is the best way to do payments?

Jimslawncareservice
01-08-2012, 07:01 PM
I bill monthly for mowing and those types of jobs. Sometimes if I hear they are poor payers or get a vibe they prepay for a year. Landscaping is at least 1/2 down. I tell everyone and make it clear when and how I get paid.
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smallstripesnc
01-08-2012, 07:12 PM
I am glad someone asked this. I have been curious to how others deal with customers paying.

Up to this point I have just had every customer pay on the spot and it makes it hard because I have to show up at a certain time and can't really get a route going in turn losing money because of the time I'm losing between properties.

So now I am going to try to get everyone to pay monthly.

Jimslawncareservice
01-08-2012, 07:16 PM
A company here bills weekly. I think that would cost quite a bit after a while with stamps, paper and envelopes. Also you need to be in the position financially to bill monthly.
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GravelyWoman
01-08-2012, 07:28 PM
I email a monthly bill to the majority of my customers. They all pay within 10 days. The others, that don't have an email address, I keep their credit cards on file and then charge the card at the end of the month. I have very few slow payers! Landscaping jobs I require 1/2 half down and then full payment when complete.

Thanks!
GravelyWoman

mowerbrad
01-08-2012, 08:47 PM
Everyone is different, some people bill at the end of the month, others require customers to pre-pay for the month and some will collect weekly. I bill at the end of the month and have the invoices due on receipt, unless otherwise noted/discussed.

When you first take on a new customer, make sure to discuss with them your billing terms. If you don't have a service agreement/contract, you may want to print something out that outlines your payment policy. The least you can do is at least mention your policy to the customer when you first talk with them.

DA Quality Lawn & YS
01-08-2012, 09:41 PM
For mowing, I bill monthly. Bills sent last day of month, due 15th of next month. 10 day grace before cutoff of service. Seems to work well.

ringahding
01-08-2012, 10:12 PM
Monthly billing is the best way for established LCO's. Collecting emails for us is like having a business card ready to hand out, in other words it's a must have! Get viral.

xclusive
01-08-2012, 10:29 PM
I invoice everything at the end of the month with payment due in 15 days. All my client sign an agreement and payment instructions are included. The only time I do not invoice at the end of the month is when we do a landscape job like plantings, pavers, retaining wall etc. I then set up a payment schedule with the balance due upon completion.

DuallyVette
01-08-2012, 11:23 PM
I use to bill at the end of the month and stamp "due upon receipt" on it. The checks would slowly come in for the next four weeks. so I changed my plan.I send a bill for the month of December, on December 23, and its due on January 1. Many of the checks come in before the 1st Many people sit down at or near the 1st of the month to pay bills. I want them to have my bill in their hand at that time. If I send the bill out after the 1st, the checks dribble in slower.

BCboy
01-09-2012, 03:18 AM
When I would take on a new client, I would tell them that I bill monthly and the invoice would be dropped off with the final cut of the month. I asked if they saw me they could pay me next week or send out a check to me. Most (90%) were paid within the following week.
If someone forgot to pay me it was not a big problem. I just included a copy of the unpaid invoice with the next one and asked they both be paid at the same time.
I only ever had to chase 2 people for payment, but I was always paid. I got rid of one and the rates went up the following year for the other. That guy had a hot wife so I always got to talk to her about it. She was sooooo nice ! :rolleyes:

ralph02813
01-09-2012, 06:47 AM
I bill monthly after the last cut, it is due upon receipt. When I get a new customer I always discuss payments.. I explain that I will bill at the end of the month, that Saturday, so they will have their bill the first part of the following week. I tell them that it makes it easy for me to do it this way then it gives everyone a chance hopefully pay me by the 10 then I don't have to worry about it. I also ask them if they would rather I email the invoice - I use quick books, so it is easy to do either or both email and regular email -or all at once. For the most part I do both - regular mail becomes a non threatening reminder. If some one goes by the 15th of the month I send out a statement of course blaming the post office.

Matt's Mowing Service
01-09-2012, 09:12 AM
Thanks for all the advice. It really helped. So I should bill them at the end of the month and tell them it is due upon receipt? And it is a good idea to give them your requirements on paper. How is the best way to discuss this with them? I mean I don't want to sound rude and make it sound like all I'm worried about is the money.

MOturkey
01-09-2012, 10:59 AM
I bill monthly, but I bill immediately after the last mowing within the month, so if the last time I service the property is on the 25th, the invoice will normally go out in the mail on the 26th. I explain this to all my customers as being easier for me, spreading the billing out, instead of having to do it all one day, but it also speeds up collections for those that pay promptly. I still date the invoice as the 1st day of the next month, and don't consider it due until then, but many will go ahead and pay as soon as they receive it. I mow some bi-weeklies, so lots of times, I'll have payment before the month is even out. I, personally, do not have a "due date" on my invoices, but if you did, I think customers would appreciate the early billing because they would feel as if they were getting a longer period before it was due.

There are several reasons I don't have due dates on my invoices, but primarily because it has never been a problem. Two of my best customers routinely pay almost a full 30 days behind, but they always pay, which is really all I'm looking for.

Lefet
01-09-2012, 11:51 AM
Same here, bill at the end of the month due upon receipt. If not paid, services cut off until paid. (We generally don't have that problem, have gotten better at spotting PITA'S) Installs or specials are different, paid as per agreement.

32vld
01-09-2012, 11:56 AM
I am glad someone asked this. I have been curious to how others deal with customers paying.

Up to this point I have just had every customer pay on the spot and it makes it hard because I have to show up at a certain time and can't really get a route going in turn losing money because of the time I'm losing between properties.

So now I am going to try to get everyone to pay monthly.

I don't understand the need to bill monthly or even send out bills.

Does every business mail out bills?

No.

Do their customers have problems paying at the time of service?

No.

So whether to mail bills or collect in person should only be based on what is the easiest way for the business owner to do.

Next, never feel ackward telling your payment requirements. You are not robbing them. You are spelling out the rules for payment.

Is getting paid monthly or weekly better? There are advantages to both. The one big thing about getting paid monthly is that you can get stiffed for doing a up to two months of work. You do weekly service for a month, the you assume are just late paying. By the 3rd or 4th service into the second month you realize they are not going to pay.

I do weekly and collect in person. I had carried a balance for a few days up to an extra week.

Why. Customer friendly. Cust: Mr LCO I won't be home to pay you this week. LCO: No problem next time I'm in the neighbor at a later time I'll stop buy, if not you can pay me double next time.

I won't go bankrupt due to cash flow problems if I have to wait a week to get paid from time to time by a customer on any week.

I have a small cutomer base at this point so it's easier to keep a ledger when I mow. When done I load the trailer. Grab the book. Make entry into book.

I don't have crews. If one did then you don't want them handling money, knowing prices, etc.

So use what is the easiest for you.

DuallyVette
01-09-2012, 06:30 PM
If I billed weekly, or knocked on the door weekly , to get paid, I'd never get anything done.

I also include an envelope with MY address and barcode with their bill, so they don't need to address an envelope. I've found that the easier it is to do, the sooner it will get done.

I use Quickbooks. QB is set up to e-mail the invoices. QB now offers an easypayment method for the customers. They get the e-mail, click on the payment link, and the money is deposited into my checking account. for a very small fee. easy for all. The last time I ask customers for their e-mail addresses, I didn't get many responses. I'll try again.

dtford
01-09-2012, 08:43 PM
We bill monthly (easier on bookeeping) tack on .015 late fee. May not be legal, but it sure makes a difference

dtford
01-09-2012, 08:50 PM
It's silly to think a customer is going to be home every time you mow. most people don't want to write out a check every week, it's not realistic. Find some billing software, or whatever, and make it easier. the keys to making money in this business are time and labor saving strategies

ralph02813
01-09-2012, 10:22 PM
It's silly to think a customer is going to be home every time you mow. most people don't want to write out a check every week, it's not realistic. Find some billing software, or whatever, and make it easier. the keys to making money in this business are time and labor saving strategies

I would say that clearly half of my customer base I see only a couple of times during the season, and when i do see them, it is because they sent me an email asking if I could stop by soon - any Sat. or Sun!

1993lx172
01-09-2012, 10:53 PM
I bill at the end of the month and nine times out of ten I have a check in the mail box with in a week, two weeks tops. I'm going to try and switch from snail mail billing to email billing this season if I can.

ralph02813
01-09-2012, 11:04 PM
I bill at the end of the month and nine times out of ten I have a check in the mail box with in a week, two weeks tops. I'm going to try and switch from snail mail billing to email billing this season if I can.

If you are not using it, take a peak a quickbooks, I do both snail and email and it is super easy!

headz77
01-10-2012, 01:01 AM
We bill monthly using Freshbooks.com. I like that it's cloud based so I can bill from my phone, on vacation, anywhere. It supports email invoicing, paper billing with a return envelope, and credit card payments through Paypal. I invoice 65 clients in about 90 minutes with a personalized note on each invoice. About a third of my customers pay online within 3 days.
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Matt's Mowing Service
01-10-2012, 08:31 AM
How much does quick books cost? It does sound like a good idea, but I might just stick with mailing them for right now since I don't have a very large customer base at the time.
Thanks again for all the advice! It was much needed.

ralph02813
01-10-2012, 09:49 AM
How much does quick books cost? It does sound like a good idea, but I might just stick with mailing them for right now since I don't have a very large customer base at the time.
Thanks again for all the advice! It was much needed.

I have a subscription that cost me $10.00 a month on a one year contract. I don't need payroll or inventory, but if you use office it integrats into excel. I used to use the full blown addition for about 20 years in another life and I needed all the bells and whistles.
Go on to quickbooks at quickbooks.com and check out the different levels, each time I do an invoice all i have to do is either check or uncheck the email box or reg mail box to pick which way or both ways the invoice or statement is going.!

SpringHillTnLandscaping
01-11-2012, 12:35 PM
When we first started our Lawn Care (http://www.lawncarenashvilletn.com) business years ago we did everything on a handshake and picked up the checks by driving around. Clients would leave the check in the mailbox or barbeque pit in a ziplock bag. After a while we drove ourselves nuts picking up checks.

We finally settled on putting our payment arrangements on our contract stating the payment was due on the 1st for the same month as the service. This enabled us to add more services like week pulling and trimming and to spread out the costs across the 12 month period.

PlantscapeSolutions
01-13-2012, 08:21 AM
It's silly to think a customer is going to be home every time you mow. most people don't want to write out a check every week, it's not realistic. Find some billing software, or whatever, and make it easier. the keys to making money in this business are time and labor saving strategies

I agree completely. Customers like to deal with as few contractors as possible a month to simply their life. Bugging clients for a check every week can grow old fast. A lot of people like to use online bill pay where they can make a few clicks and pay bills once a month. It's important to realize the things you can do to make your clients life easier so they stay your customer.

Matt's Mowing Service
01-29-2012, 05:42 PM
I know this post was a while ago but I thought of something else. What about other jobs like mulch, overseeding and things other than mowing? Do you bill them also at the end of the month or do you not bill them at all? Sorry for not thinking of this until now.

Lefet
01-29-2012, 06:07 PM
I know this post was a while ago but I thought of something else. What about other jobs like mulch, overseeding and things other than mowing? Do you bill them also at the end of the month or do you not bill them at all? Sorry for not thinking of this until now.

You don't mean that do you?????

Any additonal work is paid upon completion, depending upon what you and the homeowner decide upon. We get 50% up front, remainder on completion.
Job is done, invoice already prepared, get paid, go home(or to the next one!!).

wbw
01-29-2012, 10:49 PM
I don't understand the need to bill monthly or even send out bills.

Does every business mail out bills?

No.

Do their customers have problems paying at the time of service?

No.

So whether to mail bills or collect in person should only be based on what is the easiest way for the business owner to do.

Next, never feel ackward telling your payment requirements. You are not robbing them. You are spelling out the rules for payment.

Is getting paid monthly or weekly better? There are advantages to both. The one big thing about getting paid monthly is that you can get stiffed for doing a up to two months of work. You do weekly service for a month, the you assume are just late paying. By the 3rd or 4th service into the second month you realize they are not going to pay.

I do weekly and collect in person. I had carried a balance for a few days up to an extra week.

Why. Customer friendly. Cust: Mr LCO I won't be home to pay you this week. LCO: No problem next time I'm in the neighbor at a later time I'll stop buy, if not you can pay me double next time.

I won't go bankrupt due to cash flow problems if I have to wait a week to get paid from time to time by a customer on any week.

I have a small cutomer base at this point so it's easier to keep a ledger when I mow. When done I load the trailer. Grab the book. Make entry into book.

I don't have crews. If one did then you don't want them handling money, knowing prices, etc.

So use what is the easiest for you.

I strongly disagree. You say to do what is easiest.

I say do what is best.

I say do what is professional.

I say do what you will have to do once you grow a little bit.

Customers don't like change and you already know that what you are presently doing won't work when you grow.

FLC2000
01-30-2012, 08:53 AM
I email a monthly bill to the majority of my customers. They all pay within 10 days. The others, that don't have an email address, I keep their credit cards on file and then charge the card at the end of the month. I have very few slow payers! Landscaping jobs I require 1/2 half down and then full payment when complete.

Thanks!
GravelyWoman




I was thinking about doing this. How does one go about meeting PCI standards to keep cards on file?

BeachysLawn
01-30-2012, 10:50 AM
I was thinking about doing this. How does one go about meeting PCI standards to keep cards on file?

Not to get into a software debate again, but the 'easiest' way to remain PCI compliant is to go through a web based software like Service Autopilot (there are others as well) and let them worry about it.

arninglawns
01-30-2012, 06:09 PM
Do not waste your time printing invoices and stuffing envelopes. There are plenty of software programs that will email the customer an invoice with a link to pay online at their convenience. Whenever you can, take their CC over the phone and keep it on file. I can't think of anything more wasteful than driving around trying to collect money. Just because you have the spare time to do these things, doesn't mean you should.

FLC2000
01-30-2012, 07:43 PM
Not to get into a software debate again, but the 'easiest' way to remain PCI compliant is to go through a web based software like Service Autopilot (there are others as well) and let them worry about it.

Cool. Ill check it out.

Matt's Mowing Service
01-30-2012, 10:12 PM
lefet, I don't exactly understand what you mean when you say paid upon completion. Yes I know I'm ignorant, but does that mean you knock on the door after the job is finished or put the invoice somewhere they can get it if they aren't home when you do it? I mean what if they aren't home? I'm sorry for the stupid question.

coolluv
01-31-2012, 10:00 AM
Just wanted to add that I just got off the phone with QB and according to them you don't need to be PCI complaint because the information is stored on their system. So if you are using QB your good to go.

Dave...

Lefet
01-31-2012, 10:59 AM
lefet, I don't exactly understand what you mean when you say paid upon completion. Yes I know I'm ignorant, but does that mean you knock on the door after the job is finished or put the invoice somewhere they can get it if they aren't home when you do it? I mean what if they aren't home? I'm sorry for the stupid question.

"The only stupid question is the one that isn't asked."

They know ahead of time what the balance is, so once the job is completed, we have already agreed upon where/when payment will take place. Either someone is there, payment is left, they've ALREADY paid for it, or in some RARE instances, we will allow them to mail it or stop back by.

Matt's Mowing Service
02-01-2012, 12:42 PM
Thank you very much for the reply. I understand what you were saying now, sometimes I'm just a little slow catching on. The main thing I need to get better at is not feeling so ackward and nervous about explaining my prices and payment requirements.
Thanks!

wbw
02-01-2012, 08:51 PM
The main thing I need to get better at is not feeling so ackward and nervous about explaining my prices and payment requirements.
Thanks!

The cable company is not shy about this. Neither is the phone company. You shouldn't be shy about it either.

ralph02813
02-02-2012, 06:29 AM
The cable company is not shy about this. Neither is the phone company. You shouldn't be shy about it either.

All of us are different some guys have more comfort doing this than others - in a partnership or managment system someone always has the gift of gab and can do it no matter what.


If you really figure out how much you need in an increase then it is much easier to sell. Last year I went up almost 20% on some customers, but it had been a couple of years since I had raised prices, I sent them a note explaining my own cost increases - one in particular was fuel - when I said that the last time I raised my price we were all paying $1.50 for gas, its over $4.00 now - that hit everyone and heads bobbed up and down, it coupled with little examples of other things.

I guess my point is if you really know the numbers, you will know you really need the increase - if you cannot make the step you needed then save some for next year, at least next year you will have a jump on what you need to do.