How do you collect the payments?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Popper357, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. Popper357

    Popper357 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 217

    I have been mowing for four year and am now ditching mowing and going after the landscaping. That's my background

    I usually leave a door hanger with a price written and a printed address, circle a phrase saying "Please send payment to". I may do the same think for landscaping small jobs like aeration, couple yards of dirt or mulch, garden tilling, no real construction or contracts yet.

    Wonder how most guys are collecting and everyone's input is welcome. Whether it's door hangers, mailed invoices, signed contracts, cash upfront and anything else. Talk about how this works out and what you like, dislike.

    I'm going to get more hangers my for the new landscaping, need to get some good software like QB, still using GKP. Well, GKP might work ok for a while.

    I've gone through a ton of small issues to get the landscaping setup, new business plans, business cards, shirts, truck signs etc etc Feels good though, hate mowing.
  2. WhohasHelios?

    WhohasHelios? LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    For all my regular maintenance and installs over $1000.00 I mail or hand deliver printed, formal invoices. For one time clean ups and quickies, I carry a duplicate invoice book in my day timer. This really helps the cash flow. More often than not, people pay right there and then.

    I never used to like the handwritten invoice idea, but I think the way I do it is fine, looks professional in the areas that it should, and gets payment quickly on the other stuff.

    I look forward to seeing what other people are doing as well.

  3. Popper357

    Popper357 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 217

    So the hand written duplicates are just store bought, is that right? Do you just write in service and amount due, how do you do it? I like the duplicates so customer has a reciept and so do I. I might do this. I looked at having custom dups and might get back on idea. But anything practical and easy to use is perfect. I like formal invoices for the large jobs or monthly invoicing. Not going to miss the fifty or so invoices and envelopes projects every month. :) Mowing drove me pissy after four years.
  4. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Posts: 793

    I don't cut grass or do maintenance contracts

    I only do Landscaping designs and installs

    And light maintenance
    ( re-mulch,trim shrubs,trees,drainage,sod,seeding ,etc...)

    I use the Contractors Invoices from Office Max,or Staples.
    They are in triplicate.

    I require 1/3 down or materials whichever is greater.
    The Balance is required upon compleation.

    The advantage using those forms is that an estimate can be drawn at the
    time of the first call.

    70% of the time I have a check in hand on the first meeting.
    This allows me to put that client on the schedule

    This works for me.

  5. WhohasHelios?

    WhohasHelios? LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    Yeah either storebought duplicates or triplicates like CoffeeCraver said. I then got a pretty sharp looking sefl inking stamp made up with my logo and adress info on it for like $20.00. I was actually pretty surprised at how decent they did look. Though I have to be careful to not write like a five year old when i make them up! :p

  6. JRAZ

    JRAZ LawnSite Member
    from NW
    Posts: 143

    we use quickbooks for everything. Very professional and customized invoices.
  7. Popper357

    Popper357 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 217

    Coffee, I like that you can write down info about an estimate right from the call. That would simplify my setup and I need that. Nice!

    JRAZ, What kind of things do you use from quickbooks? I'm going to use that program for my business very soon because it's got a great reputation. It's nice to hear about it.
  8. JRAZ

    JRAZ LawnSite Member
    from NW
    Posts: 143

    Many accountants are familiar with it at least around here. We put everything in there. Expenses, sales, payroll etc. A great tool! You can upload your info and hand it off to your accountant for them to work the numbers at the end of the year. My wife is a QB Pro. She customizes everything with our logo. It all looks fabulous and professional. Use can use QB for bids/estimating, although we don't. I use a different customized program for that.

    Maintenance is billed once per month
    Installation is 1/2 down balance upon completion - completion is when we provide the bill.
    Lawn apps are the only thing I hand write.

    For cst tracking, service, & sales we use a program called ACT!...that is a different topic...
  9. desertrat

    desertrat LawnSite Member
    Posts: 86

    Small jobs I use the Office max estimates, big jobs I do it in QB. I e-mail the customer the bid, save a trip and get the money when I start. I always get 50% up front, if they don't like it I move on. I never bill a customer. I get half up front and the remainder due upon completion. When I finish the job I expect my money. If they aren't going to be there on the day I plan on finishing, I finish on the day they will be there. I figure if I get half up front and they decide not to pay, I have enough to pay for material and most of the labor. If they don't pay I would proceed to take as much material as possible out of there yard. This has never happened. I try to come off as a small business that needs the money to buy the material, and that I need the money when I finish to feed my family. I am physically at every job and do the work with my 2 guys so I usually build a good relationship with the homeowner, so there are no problems. If I get any sense that they are tight on money, I don't deposit the check in my account, I cash it and them deposit the cash. I had a lady one time act as if she couldn't find her check book, she had to go somewhere and I should come back the next day, as it may take a long time to find the checkbook. I said I wasn't in a hurry and I could wait for her to find it. I waited for 30 minutes, she pretended to look for it, and after realizing I wasn't leaving until I got my money, suddenly found her checkbook and paid me. I went straight to the bank and cashed the check. Point is, I refuse to sit around hoping to get a check in the mail. Maint. account and work for people that live out of town is a different thing. I am not going to stand around and wait for a $100 check, they can send it in the mail. When I am waiting on a $10,000 check, I will wait until I get. Maybe I am a small business, but when I have spent $5000 on material and have $2500 in labor, I need the remainder to live and pay my bills.
  10. Adamma Landscape Group

    Adamma Landscape Group LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    Desert rat,
    Your collection system is the best system and real world system. To me the project begins when they sign the contract and ends when they do the final inspection and approval and hand me the check. I may bill 10%,33%, 50% at the time of signing the contract. It just depends on the type of project, the risk involved and the probability of getting paid after completion.
    Looking at real world situation and how things are fluid nowadays. If you wait for check in the mail and the person looses his job or the company fold up, what would you do trying to collect $20,000? payup

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