Customer Vanished

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by lawnMaster5000, Jan 16, 2003.

  1. lawnMaster5000

    lawnMaster5000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 589

    One of my customers recently moved and I was unaware that they were going to be moving.

    Well I found out they had moved when i sent a statement and It came back marked
    "RETURN TO SENDER
    name MOVED LEFT NO ADDRESS
    UNABLE TO FORWARD
    RETURN TO SENDER"

    this is not a really big ballance but it made me think, how can i find this person that just vanished and how can i keep people from doing this to me in the future. There is no forsale sign or anything and this was the home owner. Should i contact the city to see if they have records. I do have a signed contract.

    I am also wondering how i can prevent this.

    if this has been discussed before, I apologize, i couldnt find anything under the search.
     
  2. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Posts: 1,578

    You may have to play detective to find them ... do you know where he worked? .... ask neighbors etc .
    Only you can decide how much of your time or money you want to spend collecting this debt.

    I don't think there is much you could have done to prevent this, other than to make sure that accounts do not go too far overdue.
     
  3. Make a copy of 1st check received-keep in customer file- you could see if account is closed, might give you an idea if they are still in the area. Also can attach a bank account if you go to small claims and win.

    Job information - work phone etc.

    Renter or home owner? Check with Realtor or landlord.

    Do they have any family in the area you could call.

    License plate #'s. Probably no good to you but a process server might be able to use them should you decide to sue.
     
  4. williamslawn

    williamslawn LawnSite Member
    from SC
    Posts: 202

    Call his old phone sometimes it will give you his new number. If you get his new number call him. If he will not answer get his new address from this link:

    http://www.anywho.com/rl.html

    I did it one time. It did'nt do any good customer stiffed me anyway. He was very concerned I was able to track him down though.
     
  5. devildog

    devildog LawnSite Senior Member
    from sc
    Posts: 270

    send a collections letter to their employer.............:D
     
  6. lawnMaster5000

    lawnMaster5000 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 589

    I like the copying of check idea, or I guess another along the same line would be to get a credit card number from every client. You could say that was only for your protection, and would not be charged unless this happens.

    As far as other ideas:
    Old phone - disconnected
    old employer - no idea
    family - no - they are from india
    landlord - they owned house
    internet searches - they are not listed anwhere


    But actualy i used to be kinda friends with thier son till he moved to belize two years ago and never heard from since.

    I guess i could call county and see if taxes are still owed on property or if city has records of who house was sold by and address.

    They dont owe me that much but this is really just making me think about if someone did. If one of my big customers just disapeared.
     
  7. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,261

    Put a lein on the house add the cost of doing this to the bill. Wait till they sell the house. They will call you. I am loosing my patients with non-payers.

    Mark
     
  8. If they own the house lien is best idea. Either mechanics lien or go to small claims and with a win you should be able to file a judgment lien. Judgment lien is better because the length of time it is good for is longer. Of course you need to check your state laws on both these liens, I'm going by Colorado rules. Here we can serve summons for small claims court at last known address so that part is easy.

    One thing I like to do is have a work phone # for all customers, I tell them its in case I have any questions that need to be answered while I'm on the property.
     
  9. dougaustreim

    dougaustreim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 488

    Sometimes, you are better off giving it to a collection agency. Sure they'll take 30 or 40 % if they collect. If they don't, it doesn't cost you anything, if they do, they have paid the expenses and spent the time, not you.

    They have a network that keeps track of people. If these people skipped on you, they probably skipped on others as well.

    I took about six accounts to our collection agency here at the first of the year. He looked them over, and knew every one of them, and told me right away who had skipped and what the odds were on every one.

    Doug
    Austreim Landscaping
     

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