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MJK
09-23-2012, 02:03 PM
Long story short, we did a large grading project, client decided to raise the grade of a portion of his yard more. We brought in and graded an extra 70 yards of soil, customer signs change.

The change caused the customer to be $2,500 over budget. So at the end of the project, I had the customer pay the orginal amount, then we agreed to pay the change order of $2,500 30 days later.

Mistake was I did this on a handshake agreement, now I can't get a hold of the guy.

Anyone else make this kind of mistake before and what kind of clever ways did you use to handle it.

TriCountyLawn
09-23-2012, 02:23 PM
Did the change order have a price on it ?

How long has he dodged you ?

DVS Hardscaper
09-23-2012, 02:34 PM
Don't call them On the phone, don't send emails.

Go about a week of not bothering them. Then pay a personal, friendly visit on like a Fri night or Sunday mid morning.

Catch them off guard.

Zedo doesn't believe in contracts and legalities. But I do!
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DVS Hardscaper
09-23-2012, 03:06 PM
Also, when you do get in contact with them, do not accept the check is in the mail line. Make them give you post dated checks and deposit them on the dates on the checks.
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muddywater
09-23-2012, 04:56 PM
I would call and tell him you are starting the process of putting a lien on his house. You can put a lien on his property for practically nothing, and most of the time it will scare the bejeesus out of him.

MJK
09-23-2012, 04:59 PM
Change order was signed. Been almost 2 weeks now.

I will have to just pay them that visit I guess. This is what I hate about owning a business more then anything.

jbailey52
09-23-2012, 05:13 PM
On a separate note, 2500 for 70 yes of topsoil... For me that would be way on the cheap side. How did you come up with your price?

MJK
09-23-2012, 05:25 PM
Since I'm already at the place house, $1,021 For dirt, $1,225 labor, $328 to overhead.

Mind you this work is done with a skidsteer, so its done in a day. (should add 35 man hours for the work)

muddywater
09-23-2012, 05:36 PM
Since I'm already at the place house, $1,021 For dirt, $1,225 labor, $328 to overhead.

Mind you this work is done with a skidsteer, so its done in a day. (should add 35 man hours for the work)

Price seems good to me. 4 tandem loads of dirt, and probably didn't even take a whole day. $328 seems high for overhead unless that includes skid steer rental or labor cost.

MJK
09-23-2012, 05:45 PM
Yea the $328 includes my charge for the skid.

muddywater
09-23-2012, 06:42 PM
I would try to scare him into paying first. The lien is the cheapest way to get your money, but could take the longest. Hopefully when he gets a certified letter in the mail it will scare him into paying. I can help give you an idea of how to get this process started, but I live in a different state than you so it might not be the exact same process.

The other option is get a lawyer to send him a letter telling him you will take him to small claims court. This might scare him into paying.

The lien version worked for me last year. I ended up almost going to court to make the lien permanent, but they paid before that happened.

DVS Hardscaper
09-23-2012, 07:24 PM
I would call and tell him you are starting the process of putting a lien on his house. You can put a lien on his property for practically nothing, and most of the time it will scare the bejeesus out of him.

In most states that's easier said than done.

In order to put a lien on a property, all owners listed on the deed must sign the agreement. So if the agreement is in my name and I sign it, but our house is deeded to both myself and my wife - you can't put a valid, sticking lien on the property as my wife didnt agree to the work done. Doin so is called "defamation of title".

So with that said - I go to the real data website and I write my contracts so they are in the name of all parties listed on the deed :)

Also, in this day and age - us little old contractors would have last dibs on any money if and when the property is sold. So many properties are under water, the property worth less than is owed. If the property were sold - it's unlikely and secondary lien holders would see a dime. I plan on living in my home till I die. Put all the liens on my house you want, the check is in the mail........after I'm dead!


Best thing to do is be sneaky. Catch the guy in person at home on a Sunday morning around 10:30 am. Trust me, he will totally be off guard. So much so, that he won't be able to talk straight.

Something else I do is I will use cell phones of my personal friends when I call people that owe me money. Many of my friends have company issued cell phones. I'm in MD, but I have one friend with a cell phone with a Philly PA number and another friend with an Illinois number. This trick almost ALWAYS trips up the customer! And if it doesnt work - no biggie, the customer doesnt know that the Illinois number was me trying to call. SO I then wait it out a few days and pay them a weekend visit.

Another thought - here it is 7:22 PM sunday evening. I'm home, you're probably home, and all my neighbors are home. This is also a perfect time for an unannounced visit. Think about it, use psychology - most everyone's mind is on preparing to return to work in the morning, the last thing we're thinking about is Andrew Hardscape coming out for a visit.

Another option is to pay the client a visit at work (if you know where they work). I have done this once, the lady wrote me a check on a closed checking acct. And I know another member here made a work place collection visit and was successful in obtaining payment.

Please keep us posted and let us know what happens. I love this kind of stuff!
.

muddywater
09-23-2012, 08:39 PM
Yeah a lien is a pain in the butt. I would try all of Andrew's suggestions first.

I was successful with a lien last year for a GC building a church. I went to the courthouse in the town the work was done and found a "perfect" lien and copied it to the "t" and then had a lawyer verify it. I placed the lien, sent certified letter to church and GC. Then waited. You have up to a year to make the lien permanent. This requires getting a lawyer and filing suit. About 8 months into it, I got my lawyer to call the bond company and tell them we were filing suit. They talked to him for a week or so then refused his phone calls. Then he made a motion to set a court date. Bond company called the NEXT day and wanted to settle. I spend about a grand with the lawyer filing suit, we went back to the bond company and told them we would need 1k more not to file suit to cover the lawyer fees.

I finally got the check for $7000. So liens do work, but they are alot of work!

muddywater
09-23-2012, 08:41 PM
I am also trying to find a lawyer now that I can keep a "demand letter" on file to send to clients that don't want to pay. I mainly have trouble with lawn maintenance clients now. That way I will pay for the letter once and have it on file...

jbailey52
09-23-2012, 09:15 PM
Since I'm already at the place house, $1,021 For dirt, $1,225 labor, $328 to overhead.

Mind you this work is done with a skidsteer, so its done in a day. (should add 35 man hours for the work)


Maybe it's your location, I can only find tandem loads of topsoil for $20/ yard delivered.

DVS Hardscaper
09-23-2012, 09:20 PM
I am also trying to find a lawyer now that I can keep a "demand letter" on file to send to clients that don't want to pay. I mainly have trouble with lawn maintenance clients now. That way I will pay for the letter once and have it on file...

(spoken in a motivational tone) There is absolutely NO reason for you to be allowing residential customers to owe you any money for mowing services in this day and age.

This is 2012. All your residential mowing customers need to be on credit card payments. You debit their card within 24 hrs of servicing the lawn. If the card doesnt go through - you dont mow anymore until it does. This way they are not racking up 4 mowings and not paying.

My lawn mowing customers - all on credit card. No checks to bounce, no returned check fees, no sending out monthly invoices, and no waiting for payment. Credit cards dont bounce and incurr returned check fees. They either go through or they don't!

And customers LOVE the convience of not having to write and send you a check each month.


,

muddywater
09-23-2012, 09:55 PM
Id have to switch 200 clients over, and 2% is alot of money considering that is 10% of my profit margin

MJK
09-23-2012, 10:13 PM
In most states that's easier said than done.

In order to put a lien on a property, all owners listed on the deed must sign the agreement. So if the agreement is in my name and I sign it, but our house is deeded to both myself and my wife - you can't put a valid, sticking lien on the property as my wife didnt agree to the work done. Doin so is called "defamation of title".

So with that said - I go to the real data website and I write my contracts so they are in the name of all parties listed on the deed :)

Also, in this day and age - us little old contractors would have last dibs on any money if and when the property is sold. So many properties are under water, the property worth less than is owed. If the property were sold - it's unlikely and secondary lien holders would see a dime. I plan on living in my home till I die. Put all the liens on my house you want, the check is in the mail........after I'm dead!


Best thing to do is be sneaky. Catch the guy in person at home on a Sunday morning around 10:30 am. Trust me, he will totally be off guard. So much so, that he won't be able to talk straight.

Something else I do is I will use cell phones of my personal friends when I call people that owe me money. Many of my friends have company issued cell phones. I'm in MD, but I have one friend with a cell phone with a Philly PA number and another friend with an Illinois number. This trick almost ALWAYS trips up the customer! And if it doesnt work - no biggie, the customer doesnt know that the Illinois number was me trying to call. SO I then wait it out a few days and pay them a weekend visit.

Another thought - here it is 7:22 PM sunday evening. I'm home, you're probably home, and all my neighbors are home. This is also a perfect time for an unannounced visit. Think about it, use psychology - most everyone's mind is on preparing to return to work in the morning, the last thing we're thinking about is Andrew Hardscape coming out for a visit.

Another option is to pay the client a visit at work (if you know where they work). I have done this once, the lady wrote me a check on a closed checking acct. And I know another member here made a work place collection visit and was successful in obtaining payment.

Please keep us posted and let us know what happens. I love this kind of stuff!
.


Can you expand on the real data website?

DVS Hardscaper
09-23-2012, 10:38 PM
Id have to switch 200 clients over, and 2% is alot of money considering that is 10% of my profit margin

200 customers is nothing. There are 2 guys here at Lawnsite doing over $3 mil in residential mowing all paid via credit card.

2 percent is nothing either. You spend that much in postage and envelopes each month, if not more.

Gotta think outside the box.
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DVS Hardscaper
09-23-2012, 10:54 PM
Can you expand on the real data website?

This is usually offered by the state or by the county.

Maryland Gov't has a site that lists every single piece of real estate in the state.
Here is the link:
http://sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite/
To see how it works, click on Montgomery County, then type in RIVER for the street address. Then from
There all properties on River Road will come up.

In VA, the real data sites are provided by the individual counties, not the state. Here is an example: http://icare.fairfaxcounty.gov/search/commonsearch.aspx?mode=address

So if your county or state even has a real data web site , you need to do a google search. Use words like "real property data" "real property tax records", "real property records".
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Red Shed Landscaping
09-24-2012, 08:33 AM
I use the real property data on everybody that calls and to see what the house looks like before I go to meet with them and how much its worth. Certain counties even tell who bought and sold it and for how much. It is a valuable tool.

DVS Hardscaper
09-24-2012, 08:57 AM
I also pull the property up on Google maps to get a feel
For what I'm going to be looking at.

One problem with pulling the real estate records -
DEATH! Twice this yeah I have submitted proposals listed to both husband and wife, one property the husband had Passed away, and our current project - the wife long passed away. So the spouses had to call me and say "you have my husband's name on here but he's dead"! LOL

Folks - take advantage of technology. Use online real estate records. Use Google Maps. If you're mowing residential grass - stop the burdensome monthly billing and get a credit card system in place. INNOVATE!

Zedo is busy enjoying his "cottage" and posting on 3 hardscape forums. He doesn't have time for this Mickey mouse garbage. But I do. Be proactive in your business dealings. Pay attention to what experiences I share and benefit from them.

I have another divison, I price all the work from my laptop at the dining room table, I seldom see the property in person when I send a proposal.
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Mark Oomkes
09-24-2012, 09:10 AM
Also, when you do get in contact with them, do not accept the check is in the mail line. Make them give you post dated checks and deposit them on the dates on the checks.
Posted via Mobile Device

Not sure about all states, but post dated checks are illegal in most.

As in call up the sheriff illegal.

Not to mention if given that amount of time, they can stop payment on it as well.

DVS Hardscaper
09-24-2012, 12:47 PM
Not sure about all states, but post dated checks are illegal in most.

As in call up the sheriff illegal.

Not to mention if given that amount of time, they can stop payment on it as well.

A payment can be stopped on anything, that's life. My point is, if you're showing up unannounced at the man's door wanting your money, he may not have it right then and there. So instead of taking his word that he will mail a check come next pay period - you have him cut you a post dated check, this way he is commited.

Post dated checks are legal where I live. If I'm going out of the county for a while I can leave post dated
Checks for my wife to give to the lawn boy. The checks are mine, money is mine, decision is mine. Ever do automatic car payments or credit card payments? They're nothing more than a digital form of a post dated check. It is however illegal, for a bank to cash or deposit a check prior to the check date.
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GreenI.A.
09-24-2012, 05:28 PM
Not sure about all states, but post dated checks are illegal in most.

As in call up the sheriff illegal.

Not to mention if given that amount of time, they can stop payment on it as well.

Here post dated checks are legal so long as the receiving company agrees to accept the post dated check. But if a customer sends a post dated check without permission, then it is considered fraude, same as writing a check knowing that there are insufficient funds or the account is closed.

We deal with slow and non payers all the time. Just about every time, sending a letter notifying the of our intent to file a Lien in so many days is enough to at least get them to call us. Bad checks are great, when I get one I call the customer and send a certified letter, if they do not pay the balance plus bank fee within 7 days I give the check to my local pd. They call notifying the customer that they will be charged with fraude unless restitution is made. They get me paid quicker than any collection agency and the pd doesn't take a commission