View Full Version : Professionalism.......SO WHAT, I NEED MY MONEY!

07-24-2004, 01:52 PM
We talk about this all the time but, i have some issues. Do any of you stop by your clients house to collect when payment isn't recieved in the mail? I never have, until yesterday. I decided to stop by a few places to get some payments because I'm need the money and hell, they need to PAY! When I got home my wife ripped me a new one saying, "THAT'S NOT PROFESSIONAL, YOU LOOK LIKE THE KID FROM DOWN THE STREET TRYING TO GET PAID!" I told her that they owe me money and I'm sick and tired of letting them get away with it. It just seems the most simple, hassle free way to get my money. I don't want to pay to put them through collections or court.

So what do you guys do? HELP ME OUT, WAS I WRONG?

John Gamba
07-24-2004, 01:58 PM
Keep sending them a bill with the proper interest. If they call the police they can have you removed with a trespass. But sometimes what you did will work.

07-24-2004, 05:21 PM
Normally no, I dont, but I did earlier this year and I think it's ok. She told me to come back tomorrow and I will pay you. I told her to write me a check and I will hold it until it clears. "oh, I dont have checks, I will have to get you a cashiers check!" I will invoice one more time and give them one week. If still no check, I am bringing in the lawyers. In the past I just write it up as a lost, but not anymore I am not.

07-24-2004, 07:07 PM
Most of the time my clients pay rite after services are finished they now it is just like any where else. I mow you pay , i have some that pay the next day such as other contractors that i do work for on a regular bases.

Very few get billed only thoses that i know very well.,,,,,,,,,,,,,:gunsfirin :gunsfirin :gunsfirin :gunsfirin :gunsfirin :gunsfirin

Mr. Magpie
07-24-2004, 07:13 PM
How about a phonecall? You didn't mention that in the OP.

Also, what we have done in the past twice is stack their big potted plants and children's toys and hoses and other debris right in front of the front door with an extremely polite, professional note asking for them to give us a call. It worked both times. They called up right away kind of suprised and astounded and a little perturbed, but they new they had it coming so they didn't get all fussy about it. They paid promptly and we still have them as clients. We showed them we mean business and then we sort of forced them to want to avoid difficult ingress/egress to their house!

Call me stupid, but I used my judgment, AND it worked.

In three years and about $35,000 (90 or so various customers) I have only wrote off $25 as uncollectable.

Good solid, routine billing habits and turning down some work because of seeing right through some people's intentions in the beginning have helped me, but then again, I don't do a ton of business so I don't have a ton of experience.

Mr. Magpie
07-24-2004, 07:17 PM
Oh yeah, and it's my (little) experience that paying by hand at the property does not work. In fact, I refuse to take checks or cash by hand. Many reasons: they weren't home, no documentation, they forget then the next time they owe double but don't remember, I could go on and on.

If your bill is amongst all their others in the mail, it gets paid, period.

07-24-2004, 07:18 PM
I have called them and no response. I WILL GET MY MONEY!

07-24-2004, 07:26 PM
I've never made a special trip to a customers house, but I have knocked on a few doors before mowing for that week. Usually that works.

If it looks like an honest oversight I usually just call them.

07-24-2004, 07:33 PM
We just went and collected on 2 accounts today. We have been mowing every week all year so far and neither of them have sent a dime. Both paid right away. We dont get mad because we know these customers are always late and we always have to go collect but they always pay when we do.

Norm Al
07-24-2004, 07:36 PM
it has been proven that if you include a return envolope with your billing,,,,the customer will mail you your check faster!

but no you were not unprofessional by stopping by for payment! the newspaper guy will do it in a heart beat!

Pilgrims' Pride
07-24-2004, 07:42 PM
Norm Al,

I have to agree.
I leave invoices on the day of service and just started leaving return envelopes. I notice payments are moving much faster.

07-24-2004, 09:00 PM
I first expect cash or check on the day. But sometimes I need to leave an invoice which is usually OK. Terms are 7 days, most pay within 14, thats ok with regulars, then the out of towners usually take a month, this annoys me...but they pay.

With local work, 1st is cash or check, or invoice, if over 2 weeks late, they get a reminder, then a week later they get 1 call per week for 2 weeks, still no money, they get me on their door, this works. I'm professional, but when you go through the attempts to collect to them they get the message I must be peeved to have to be there.

This happens every now and again, they must pay cash before I engage the blades from then on....I have turned these deadbeats into loyal great clients now.

So , imo collecting personally is still professional, nothing impropper about it, but if you take the shovel with you, have it cleaned as it is representing your company just before it hits their ear! LOL!

07-24-2004, 11:36 PM
What ab-Norm Al said. I had one last month that didn't pay. I called him on the 17th and he said he'd get back with me. He did, that evening. Just a simple oversight on his or the wife's part. Told me he'd leave it under the mat for me to pick up the next morning. I did and he had payed not only last month but also up front for this month. I'm lucky, I guess. All of my customers are always on time and usually pay within 5 days. Makes the job a lot easier.

07-26-2004, 06:49 PM
I had 4 customers out past the 15th, which is the due date. I sent reminders out and 1 association called and told us why they where late and I recieved a payment 2 days later, another guy paid for last month and the next month when I showed up to his door, and the last one caught me this morning and paid for last month and the next month as well. I'm still waiting for payment from one customer. She has until the 15th of Aug to pay for June, July + late fees and she will be a pre-pay customer from now on.

Four C. Landscaping
07-26-2004, 08:17 PM
Although you did not say how over due these people were I think that showing up at a customers house just to collect money from someone that owes three cuts or less is a little severe.most people live by the month as do I.HOWEVER if they owed you for four cuts or more then you were perfectly in the right especially if they were home and just did not pay one of the times you were there.

DFW Area Landscaper
07-26-2004, 09:28 PM
Yes. I agree with your wife. My gut feeling is that knocking on the door to ask for payment is not professional. Name a single large company that does that? I can't think of any successful companies that do that.

I will leave notes on doors asking customers to give me a call about a past due balance when I threaten to suspend service. Only after I suspend service and I still don't get a call will I knock on the door.

The thing of it is, if you have to work to earn your money and then you have to work to collect it, you aren't working very smart. You're working hard. But not smart.

If you're serious about this business, you need to realize, first off, that you simply can't be in this business without extending credit.

Would you loan money to just anyone? No.

Will customers give you their social security numbers and allow you to run a credit check before you allow them to sign up for service? No.

So what do you do? You have to extend credit, but you can't check their creditworthiness.

Or can you?

Banks don't let deadbeat losers who don't pay their bills have credit cards, do they?

Getting set up to accept credit cards was one of the smartest moves I've made in this business. (May be the only smart move I've made with this business...ha!) But having that credit card on file for automatic payments is worth everything they're charging me. Sure, I don't get paid a dollar on the dollar. They take a percentage of everything I gross. But the peace of mind that comes from knowing your customer intends to pay and will pay on time is worth it to me. No questions.

If a customer won't give me a credit card then it's 8 cuts paid in advance and held indefinitely as a deposit. No more blind faith credit for anyone who will give me work. That just isn't a smart way to run a business, in my opinion. It's how I did things last year and that's why I still have to occassionally suspend service.

The 'not knowing if they'll pay' will drive you absolutely nuts. I'm doing everything I can to avoid being in that situation with all new customers.

DFW Area Landscaper

07-26-2004, 09:48 PM
I have went to there job trying to get paid. only if going to there house and got no one to come to the door. that's 45 days late.

Turf Medic
07-26-2004, 09:49 PM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
Yes. I agree with your wife. My gut feeling is that knocking on the door to ask for payment is not professional. Name a single large company that does that? I can't think of any successful companies that do that.

Around here a lot of the companies will stop by the house trying to collect money. I have done collections for some of them in the past, quick and easy money.

A few of them around here that are not afraid to knock on the door to collect their money are, Cable Company, Electric Company, all of the rent to own type of businesses, natural gas company, hold the check till payday businesses, buy here pay here carlots.

IMO if you handle it professionally, show up with reciept book in your hand expecting payment, don't get into a yelling match. Call before you show up, I have done this from the cell phone while in front of their house, kind of funny to have people tell you they have the money, stop by and then watch them run out of their house.

Not sure if I would stack stuff up in front of a persons home, might bite you in the butt. One of the rent to own companies ended up getting sued for a similar action, thought it would be funny to wrap the house with packing tape, another client the rental company blew up a bad check to banner size and posted on the client's home. In both cases the rent to own lost sizable sums of money.

07-26-2004, 09:49 PM
Invoices mailed out 1st of the month, due on the 20th, late bill goes out 25th. If not collected by the 1st of the next month, I take the lawn off our route until its paid in full, and the account goes into probation for 4 months (each month must be paid in advance).

07-26-2004, 11:23 PM
Originally posted by DFW Area Landscaper
Yes. I agree with your wife. My gut feeling is that knocking on the door to ask for payment is not professional. Name a single large company that does that? Time Warner Cable Co. And its about time to stop mowing that lawn when they do.

07-26-2004, 11:40 PM
Time Warner Cable Co. And its about time to stop mowing that lawn when they do.

You can bet they will pay to keep their cable before they will pay you!!

Doster's L & L
07-27-2004, 12:16 AM
I'm from a small town and things are different than how it is in the larger cities. I do bill monthly, but i also go to their home to collect. While i'm there, we have small talk and i make sure that everything looks the way they want it to. I make surethat their complaints are valid ones instead of nit picky crap like, "wont you lower the deck?" in the middle of summer. Then i tell them why i DON'T lower the deck. Now if the guys happen to skip some trimming around a tree or something, then i tell them it'll be fixed. When i move to a larger city, then things will probably change to monthly mailed billing.

07-27-2004, 02:19 PM
Call me stupid but I have my customers leave a check EVERY week under the mat or pay for the whole month, I have never had a problem, if there is no check under the mat then we DO NOT mow, if I am not out in the field then my guys collect the checks from under the mat and bring them to me at the end of the day---IT WORKS TRUST ME