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View Full Version : Should I take her back?


tiedeman
12-13-2004, 04:41 PM
ok, some of you know about one of my customers that has approx $168 in an outstanding balance from both the June & July billing. Even though she paid me the August bill still puzzles me. I didn't do any lawn care on her property for much of August through the end of the year because she had her house remodeled, which torn up the the entire lawn, and I mean the entire lawn.

I never received a payment for June and July so I keep on sending her reminders over and over again in September and then October to pay her balance in full but no money arrived.

Well, back in August she asked me to do her snow removal, very small drive, and I agreed. I did her drive once in November on Thanksgiving when we got a storm and decided that was it. I was not going to do anymore work for until the balance was paid in full. Even though she has been a customer for about 3 years, I decided to put my foot down.

I sent her out a letter in the end of November with her one charge for snow removal ($25, which brings her balance to $173) telling her that all services are stopped until paid in full. Well just today I received a check in the mail for $100, not $173, with a note telling me that she is sorry that she hasn't paid me, funds have been tight since the remodeling of the house (she wasn't even able to finish the remodeling because of lack of money) and asked me to continue doing the snow removal and she would get the rest of the money out to me shortly. payup

So what would you guys do? :help:

out4now
12-13-2004, 04:51 PM
You've put your foot down, stick to it. Free work does not feed your family. Politely let her know that times are tight and that you must concentrate on the paying customers to keep your family fed. Then go to COD in the future so you don't get bogged down in this situation again.

Expert Lawns
12-13-2004, 05:06 PM
You have christmas presents to buy too. After you receive $73 more dollars, call her and tell her that if services are to continue, she needs to pay in advance, or at least a portion in advance. If you really want to stick your neck out, you could make an exception just for her and tell her that she doesn't have to pay for snow removal until spring time so she can get her other finances in order. Not sure if that's a good idea, but maybe something to consider. We have the luxury of working with our customers to help them out at times. Yes, we deserve to get paid like everyone else, but after all, we are our own bosses and can make our own decisions. If you're confident that she will pay, I say give her another chance.

bobbygedd
12-13-2004, 05:16 PM
no, no, no, no, no. she basically blew you off right? screw her. now, if it were me, and she called BEFORE the payment due date, and said she was having financial problems, i'd continue. but it seems she offered you no explanation, and hung you out to dry. screw her.

BobR
12-13-2004, 05:39 PM
HEY - A good customer for three years - Take a chance, 73 bucks and 25 a pop for the drive - are you having problems feeding the family - maybe she is at this time... I would let her run up the tab BUT only after having a face to face conversation where you explain YOUR concerns and SHE will probably explain hers, maybe set up a payment plan (a few bucks a month or week are better than nothing) and before long she will be back in the black and once her financial position improves she will remember who helped her out.

BobR

Up North
12-13-2004, 05:51 PM
If money was tight during the remodeling chances are it'll be tight again now because of Christmas. I don't know. Personally if it were one of my good customers I'd probably give them the benefit of the doubt and try to work out something such as payment immediately after completion of the job. That may not be possible in some situations due to customer not being home, but it would protect you until she gets caught up on her other bill.

Buck

Evan528
12-13-2004, 06:14 PM
If money is tight because of the remodeling then she shouldnt have done the remodeling. People seem to forget that having improvments done on there home is a luxury and not a nessesity. That is a lame excuse for not paying the people she owes..... ;)

Also, Anyone who dosnt have a spare $75.00 to there name should not be a home owner. I would sell my house tomorrow and rent an apartment where maintnance is free If I only had enough money to pay my expenses and no extra money for unforseen expenses.

bobbygedd
12-13-2004, 06:15 PM
lawn service is a luxery item. you are not going to die if you don't have it. your customer chose first off not to do it herself. second, she chose to work on her home, rather than pay you. when you kept sending reminders, she ignored them. i have a nice couple, who chose to buy 2 brand new cars, at about 30 grand a piece. they started blowing off my bills, where before they were right on time. when i started banging on the door, they didn't open it. they pretended they werent home. when the grass was up thier ass, they finally called. they said they were having a hard time, u know, the two brand new cars were sucking them dry. i got my money and adios. i'll tell you another story. no bullcrap, i had a relative living with me. i charged her just enough to cover the extra expense of her living here, a few bucks a week. anytime something happened, like she needed a car repair, or a vacation on a cruise, whatever, she wouldn't pay her rent. guess where aunt susan is now? yup, right out on her ear, that's where i put her! these people make thier own decisions on what's more important, and guess what? they decided you were not important. adios

grass_cuttin_fool
12-13-2004, 06:16 PM
I would wait till it snowed again and tell her the bill is $98.00, do you have it or am I gonna ride on down the road. I have always been to good for my own good and now it has come back to bite me kinda hard. I am going to the Bobby methods from now on I think

tiedeman
12-13-2004, 06:51 PM
I was just looking at my math in my story, I meant $193 balance, not $73.

keep on coming with the answers, enjoying them

KurtW
12-13-2004, 07:25 PM
3 Years...a good customer....give her a break....few if any of her other creditors will...she might just remember you in the future as one who stuck by in hard times..carry her at least until spring....you costs are very small to do this...Thats what I would do...Kurt

Tn Lawn Man
12-13-2004, 07:27 PM
Stick to your guns

She evidently thought she had enough money to remodel her house.

I wonder if the the carpenters who did the work stopped work when she didn't pay?

Face it, you are at the bottom of the priority list, which is where you will stay unless you are much more firm about your payment policy.

lawnguyland
12-13-2004, 07:50 PM
1111111111111

bobbygedd
12-13-2004, 08:03 PM
maybe you could ask for collateral? this one time my friend doug asked for a rather large loan. i made him give me his wifes engagement ring as collateral.

dvmcmrhp52
12-13-2004, 08:13 PM
Tiedeman,
You have given her since her June billing to "catch up" on her
past due invoices.
You have given her ample opportunity to make things right and she has failed.The final nail in the coffin for me would be the partial payment you recieved this month. Had the payment been "in full" I may have considered continued service for a long term customer, however after a 5-6 month
hiatus and still only partial payment, I would walk away.
If the extra $93 that she still owes you is that much of an issue after the months she's had to rectify it,I can only surmise the situation will not get better any time soon.
I'll bet there are gifts under the tree on Christmas morning.................

jim dailey
12-13-2004, 08:14 PM
maybe you could ask for collateral? this one time my friend doug asked for a rather large loan. i made him give me his wifes engagement ring as collateral.

Only you, Booby, only you. Booby, sorry but I had to close the gate to Florida for awhile. I had a sudden rush of visitors. MAN, they act like animals, sometimes. OK, I have to keep it closed for a couple of weeks, then I will unlock it again. You will be the first to know when it re-opens. Then I can give you the big "Come on down". Take care, toughguy!!!

Expert Lawns
12-13-2004, 08:19 PM
I extended credit to a 3 year customer once, and in when they finally paid in full, they gave me about $30 extra for the troubles. Sure, it's only $30, but it was the thought that counted. It did help pay the postage, paper and envelopes that I had to keep sending them. Some people just appreciate a kind jesture and do what they can to let you know it.

Shawns Lawns
12-13-2004, 08:37 PM
Tell her your going to prepay only because its harder to collect during the holidays.

Green Care
12-13-2004, 08:45 PM
Oh no have not paid and asking too continue service think if you have help and didn't pay them and when you did it wasn't everything they will be gone so she needs to go.

Precision
12-13-2004, 10:52 PM
The longer it goes the less likely you are to recieve payment. The hundred dollars was sent simply to trick you into letting her run up the tab further and because plowing time is here.

The oldest trick in the book from junkies. Borrow $100 get a little late on payment, then make a big deal about paying back $50. Then wait a while and with a sob story, ask to borrow another $100 and they will pay you back with interest.

Run good money after bad. Or in your case time and energy.

JCA1
12-15-2004, 07:46 PM
People really do run into hard times. Something may have happened forcing her to use money she had to pay for remodel and your services. Is someone sick in her family? Then again it may be just a line of bull. People who simply don't want to pay bills usually don't pay them for three years and then stop, they don't pay in the beginning. Give her a chance, you may never know how much you are really helping her. Good deeds always pay off somehow. The world needs a little more kindness and compassion, why not let it start with you?

bobbygedd
12-15-2004, 07:53 PM
People really do run into hard times. Something may have happened forcing her to use money she had to pay for remodel and your services. Is someone sick in her family? Then again it may be just a line of bull. People who simply don't want to pay bills usually don't pay them for three years and then stop, they don't pay in the beginning. Give her a chance, you may never know how much you are really helping her. Good deeds always pay off somehow. The world needs a little more kindness and compassion, why not let it start with you?
why not let it start with the remodeling company? or the doctor? why stiff the little tiny guy that can't afford to be stiffed? there's a sucker born every minute

Evergreenpros
12-15-2004, 09:12 PM
1. Get something in writing from her stating that she owes you $X,XX.XX and she will pay by MM/DD/YYYY, and get her to sign it. This will make a collections pretty much open and shut. She won't be able deny the bill.

2. Make her sign for all services BEFORE you conduct them, at least until she is paid up. List property location, name of client, date of services, what was done, etc Tell her "I'm sorry, I really enjoy servicing you but I do this will all people who happen to fall behind on their bills, it's just standard with my company."

Then service her. When you stick with somebody going through an unforseen financial problem, you will probably make a client for life who will stick by you through an unforseen problem of your own (back goes out for a month). I know it's a kneejerk reaction to stop service and get mad but try and be empathetic to her situation. She may be waiting on money owed her as well or she just made a mistake in budgeting.

I know personally, since I've been in business I've been behind upwards of over $20,000 before in my business bills. Fortunately my vendors were patient with me and I got them caught up. Stuff happens that is sometimes beyond your control, at least immediate control anyway.

YardPro
12-15-2004, 09:20 PM
i agree with evergreen 120%
remember we are all human.
if you are have an attitude like bobby... one day late and they are cut off, you are acting like the big business that we all hate.

how would you feel if you were a few days late paying your power bill and they shut you off. what about the phone....

tiedeman
12-15-2004, 10:08 PM
it is funny that you guys responded to this thread because yesterday I sent her an email and told her that if times are tough I can put her on a flat monthly rate plan for the remaining of her balance (which I received the check in the mail today) and for next year. But I told her upfront that if she is even late by 3 days everything stops and I won't be nice in regards to late payments compared to this last time. She seemed really happy for it and wanted to do it. She really appreciated that I would do something like this in tough times like this.

But on another interesting note I talked to her neighbor today (who is a contractor) and he told me that the construction company that did the work on her house actually charged her about $12,000 to $15,000 more than they quoted her for the work. He even as a contractor said that they overcharged for the work and charged her for supplies that they didn't even use on the house.

YardPro
12-15-2004, 10:11 PM
glad to see that some people still have compassion for other humans..
hope it works out well for you.

mtdman
12-15-2004, 10:19 PM
Nope, forget her. I had a problem with a guy that was paying a month late every month, but paying. That's not acceptable. I cut off service, and once he noticed he finally paid his balance, and then wanted me to resume service. But he didn't want to pay the deposit required. Told him see ya, didn't look back.

You're trying to get rid of your snow stuff anyway, right?

tiedeman
12-15-2004, 10:24 PM
it's a simple drive to snow removal, and it's about 5 houses down from one that I already do.

I mostly want to take care of her for lawn and landscaping maintenance. And I want to renovate her lawn. She has been a pretty good customer in the past, except for this year started in June. She was good in the spring paying bills, but once they started the remodeling, payments took a nose dive.

dwc
12-15-2004, 11:00 PM
try stringing out that amount of money with the phone company, electric company, and any other business and see what happens. They immediately stop service. Call up a plumber to come fix some plumbing at your house and see if he lets you mess him around for 6 months.
It always makes me mad when people may be having a bad time but they sure do ignore the past due statements, letters, phone calls, etc until you have to go play hard ball with them.

JCA1
12-15-2004, 11:20 PM
It seems that the kind hearted, understanding people outway the "not so" around here. You have to know the difference between a person going through hard times and a down right stiffer. You did right tiedeman, well done.

prizeprop
12-15-2004, 11:30 PM
maybe a check that is post dated to be cashed at a later time.Also, a document like another poster talked about that is written in detail that says the work has been performed to her satisfaction and she agrees to pay in full by a certain date and have her sign it.

tiedeman
12-15-2004, 11:54 PM
I still have to get back to her in regards to the price and the full details of the contract though. I started drawing them up today, and should get everything done tomorrow.

HOOLIE
12-16-2004, 02:17 AM
If money is an issue with this lady, then why did she have her house remodeled? That's normally not something you have done when you're tight on cash. I used to have more sympathy for people, but over the years I've seen how these situations almost never work out. I never forget I'm providing a service that the customer could do themselves if they had to. I bet if you just cut her off totally, and not resume until she's paid in full and maybe pre-paid for a month, she'll suddenly come into some money.

BobR
12-16-2004, 08:40 AM
That is a prime example of why you should check up on any one who you are contemplating hiring to do work for you.. That dirtball of a contractor really did a number on your lawn customer and it is sad that YOU are putting yourself out to attempt to smooth the way for her. I am sure she will not forget the lessons learned.

BobR

YardPro
12-16-2004, 08:49 AM
If money is an issue with this lady, then why did she have her house remodeled? That's normally not something you have done when you're tight on cash. I used to have more sympathy for people, but over the years I've seen how these situations almost never work out. I never forget I'm providing a service that the customer could do themselves if they had to. I bet if you just cut her off totally, and not resume until she's paid in full and maybe pre-paid for a month, she'll suddenly come into some money.

guess you didn't read the whole post.

the remodel contractor had already gone $15K over budget and was not finished yet.

tiedeman
12-16-2004, 04:32 PM
well, I emailed her two different options for a 12 month flat rate price (for snow removal, lawn renovation, lawn care, and spring/fall clean up) and she told me that she couldn't afford either one. She just asked me to continue with her snow removal for the time. So I will just be doing her snow removal, and as of right now, nothing for her lawn in the 2005 season.

Hey, at least she told me up front that she couldn't afford it.

bobbygedd
12-16-2004, 04:41 PM
see that tiedman, that's all i'd ever want. tell me you can't afford it. i'll then try and break the plan down to 12 months, maybe eliminate a few things, whatever. but, they have to be upfront.

tiedeman
12-16-2004, 04:48 PM
yup, totally have to agree with ya Bobby. I would love it if people did that more instead of dragging payments out longer

Remsen1
12-16-2004, 05:02 PM
I would ask her to pay what she could afford, toward the balance, and pay for the next snow plowing visit, then continue to pay for the next snow plowing visit ahead of time, and continue to chip away at the balance. If she doesn't pay ahead for the plwing then I just drive by. Explain that you have to do it this way because of the history of ignoring your bills regardless of her sob story.

richard coffman
12-16-2004, 07:46 PM
You have christmas presents to buy too. After you receive $73 more dollars, call her and tell her that if services are to continue, she needs to pay in advance, or at least a portion in advance. If you really want to stick your neck out, you could make an exception just for her and tell her that she doesn't have to pay for snow removal until spring time so she can get her other finances in order. Not sure if that's a good idea, but maybe something to consider. We have the luxury of working with our customers to help them out at times. Yes, we deserve to get paid like everyone else, but after all, we are our own bosses and can make our own decisions. If you're confident that she will pay, I say give her another chance.

If this was a client of mine, i would have asked her when she would think she would have the remaining balance and have them stick to it.Ask them after they commit to that if the will be able to afford snow removal and pay 48 hours after work is completed.