Not missing the full-time "headaches"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    The last few weeks have certainly reminded me how much I don't miss the 'people' and 'accounting' side of this business.

    These days I'm only doing a few I couldn't get out of easily.
    But I sure did get out of doing one more recently that was a headache in more ways than one.

    Everything was OK for a long time... all the way until they started to get me on the hook a little bit with owing for services already rendered (12 month contract).

    Then things started getting all stringy. Paying slow, paying late, paying odd amounts, etc. They ended the year with me still owing $850 in past due amounts... which is part of the reason I went ahead and held them over instead of transferring the account.

    Everything went well enough that I started going ahead and doing work for them again this year. Then just as soon as that threshold was passed again... back to porkchop on a string...

    I sat down and did a little accounting and figured out what was going on. By doing so, I also saw that things were past the threshold right now and going backwards rather than moving forward.

    So I sent an email about an odd payment amount I had received, just to stir the pot and confirm my thoughts. The contract was good for $15,600 and the account paid over $18,000 last year after extras... but I don't care... I nipped it in the bud.....

    It was either that or be strung along for a long time to a point where things would be closer to 'even'... which is exactly what they were hoping for... but didn't get.

    The moral of the story, coming from a veteran, is this....

    Don't allow customers to get you on the hook for owed money, and don't allow them to use it as bait to keep you coming back.

    Trust me fellas... I've been around and seen it all. Really wealthy persons, associations of these, investors, businesses, and management companies are skilled masters at this art.

    Good examples are (in ABC order).... Banks, Bankers, Banker's Assoc, Mortgage Brokers/Brokerage Firms, Municipalities, Government, Lawyers, Law Firms, High-End HOA's, Real Estate Investors and of course Property Manangement companies.

    A great many of these 'play it to the wire' with every vendor they use. They get started at it because they strive at the practice of holding onto every penny as long as it is absolutely possible too. I mean I look for copper stains on their accountant's fingers... lol.

    Well, they have figured out that people will endure it to get paid... and in the process they have tested the water and found service providers will keep on coming if they get farther behind too and accept slow pay rather than risk no pay at all.

    They're crafty, and they bank on the fact. They will stretch you and string you along absolutely as far as you will go and get everything out of you they can, until they find the next fresh blood or you get fed up and quit.... and by then, they'll owe you a pile of money they don't intend to ever pay you.... because they figure you will never even really try to make them.

    As for me... well I nip it in the bud early... and on this one I will collect, even if it takes legal action... which it probably will... and even though it means I've cut an account that yeilded nicely financially in the end.

    I know most of you would put up with it on and on... but in my opinion it's not worth the headache and loss you will eventually be presented with trying to collect in the bitter end. So heed the moral of the story for your sanity and to do your part to put a stop to this 'common practice'.
  2. gandk06

    gandk06 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 509


    Great post. I love the list you created. It is pretty easy to see how some people in this world are able to get ahead. At the expense of the little people.
  3. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    Good to hear from you Envy.

    For a contract worth $18,000 for the season, a car, not just a car payment, I agree, that's real money that you cannot let go of.

    Under my thread about working for a property management company and waiting to get paid for 6 months, it's only about $1800-2000. IMO, I'm willing to risk having to go to court to get that money, if my return is going to be 3 times that amount.

    $2,000 is not going to break me, and I'd probably never know it's gone if I don't see it on an accounts receivables report on the accounting program every day.

    However, if you start talking $10,000+, absolutely, walk away.

    For what it's worth, my banks ( 7 now ) are by far the best payers, all pay within 5 days of an invoice sent.
  4. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

    Watch out for nursing homes...I used to have every nursing home in town until they started stringing me along each year. As soon as they got caught up I dropped em all. That company has more than 200 nationwide, the bigger they are the more they play with your money. I won't even take a contract on if I suspect them to be slow payers. Thats why we have to interview them when they ask us to bid on a contract....rather than get all excited and jump in without really knowing. Same with residentials if they hem and haw about paying on time I'm gone. Lets face it we all need work, but not the kind that doesn't pay on time.
  5. jaybird24

    jaybird24 LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 623

    Been there too. Tell someone who matters there you will be putting a lein on the property, and if that doesn't work, take the butt of your weed eater and smash in his nose, after that he'll tell you if he wears womens underwear.
  6. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 861

  7. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

  8. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,426

    Thanks for the post Envy, this is something I've pondered about. The first couple of years I started learning the hard way. Good advice.
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    See man, and in ways I do regret it but I gave every single last ONE of them kind of fellers the boot!

    They tried, last year with the drought, one after another thought that since I must be high and dry it would be a good time coming (for me)... And even thou I did fail to see the recession coming, the simple fact is I was neither ready nor anywhere near down and out.

    Now I am suffering because of it, but I would've suffered anyhow...
    I could've let them ride me, but I REFUSED!

    And in that way I feel much calmer now, much like yourself, I don't miss them either. Now I got customers today that last year would not have stood a chance, but the timing was right this time and I'm feeling more humble so it all works out.

    I like the end result myself, tight as things might be.
    oh yeh btw, i got ppls calling me 'sir' and 'mr.' lol...
    It was a long, hard fight, but all I ever wanted was a little piece of the pie.
    Which, that stuff almost brings tears to my eyes.
    Well no, not almost...

    In ways it almost don't seem worth it anymore, but I got what I was after and it proved that I was right, if only for myself.
    And that makes my day.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Oh I did want to mention, here's how I say it now:

    "You know, agriculturally speaking you can get away with not paying me a dime because it still works out in the compromise.
    Perhaps you understand what I speak of, when I say that good and bad, yin and yang, this and that and the other, however you like to do this that is entirely up to you."

    And boys, y'all take it from me I ain't had a non-paying problem yet :laugh:

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