not paid in full?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by henri4207, Sep 7, 2005.

  1. henri4207

    henri4207 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 35

    I have had a customer for 4 years now, I did a landscape job 7-5-05, sent the bill at the end of the month which would be roughly $1200 due by 8-30-05. Well, received a check for $300. Called the guy,and he said he was short on money this month and he would pay me over the next few months?? I stopped cutting his lawn, and of course now he wont pick up the phone, do I have any options? I do not have a contract for lawn service or for the landscape job. Can a collection agency have any legal pull in this?
  2. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    You've dealt with him for 4 years, has he been good about paying up until now? if so cut him some slack and work it out, we all have our bad months.
  3. DBL

    DBL LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,219

    if he is a good customer like the above post says then yeah cut him some slack gas prices arent just killing us but if hes not bust that door down and get paid
  4. henri4207

    henri4207 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 35

    This is not a good customer, likes to pay on the last couple of days of the month, almost every month, and wants everything done for cheap. I was already planning on dropping him and the end of the year. I don't mind if a customer falls behind a every now and then on lawncare, but if I do a big landscape job, I have a lot of money in materials already out. Do I have any legal action besides small claims court?
  5. The Ripper

    The Ripper LawnSite Member
    Posts: 132

    Thats why you always need to get a deposit upfront to cover your costs then bill for the remainder.
  6. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    yup, Scare him, send a certified letter return reciept requested, inform him of your intention to file a lien on his property if he fails to pay or make satisfactory arrangments within ten days. on the 10th day be waiting at the clerks office for them to open the door, then file the lien.
    Once the lien is filed if you really want to get him, file with a collections agancy, the lien will end up on hiss credit record if you request them to add it.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    You need to develop a method by which you ALWAYS collect accounts due. By this I don't mean a method that you use everytime, I mean a method that WORKS everytime. This varies from person to person, some can bluff their way about with the lawyer or the threat of court talk (doesn't work for me), others can make it look like they're going to kick their arse (has worked for me but I don't like to threaten ppls), some use certified letters (I prefer the plain manila envelope taped to the front door) but no matter what you use, everybody does in the end what works for them and it can and likely will involve some trial and error. Ultimately, what works for me may or may not work for you. But, it works for me everytime, no lawyers, no court, no collection agencies and more than anything, a minimum of bs.

    That having been said:
    Do NOT call him or attempt anything except collection by any means necessary. You can TRY a collection agency but on verbal stuff they take high %'s if you can find one that will take it on. In the end, a collection agency doesn't guarantee your money, neither does court and really, there are NO guarantees at all so this is why I think it important to find your own method that works for you.

    Here's my latest, works awesome for me:
    Get a camera of some kind, digicams are best but regular works also even the cheap $5 disposable is good. Go to his house during the daytime, doesn't matter when. Get out, walk all around the yard and take pictures, LOTS of them, preferrably of the areas you serviced, but really, the more the better. Either snap off a whole roll of 36 or if you got a digicam, 50 or 60 wouldn't hurt. Spend 10 minutes or so doing that, then calmly walk back out, and leave.

    IF the guy comes out, just leave. Pretend you're done is good but whatever you do, do NOT talk to him, don't say one word, just leave. Maybe one last pic as you're leaving, lol.

    Then, wait a few days, maybe a week.

    If you still have not got paid, at least you got pics that MAY help in court.

    Another one I've used but I don't like it so much because the fuel is a killer, but that is to slowly drive by their house as often as possible. It doesn't work everytime, but it is a form of intimidation. Is it illegal? Maybe, prove it.
    Besides, he owes you the money fair and square, everything else is also fair in love and war.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    This has worked for me in the past EXCEPT:
    1) A certified letter costs 5 dollars.
    2) The recipient can passively REFUSE the letter, meaning he doesn't outright tell the post office about it but plays dumb and won't answer the door. The smart ones will do this, they know what's coming and if they do NOT accept the letter, then they're immune, at least for a while. NOW you wait 15 days before the post office sends you back your original because that is how long the post office gives them AND you have to give them the same chance.
    That is why I like the 9x12 plain Manila envelope. I stick the letter inside and tape it to their front door with NO writing or ID marks on the envelope and THAT gets them to open it everytime, surprise surprise!
    Of course, the cert.letter involves less chance of a personal contact.

    Either way, whatever you decide,
    Here's a sample letter you can use:




    Dear First Last:

    I hereby give you notice that on or about DD.MON, YEAR, work was performed on your property with labor and materials totaling (AMOUNT) dollars, out of which remains a balance of (AMOUNT) dollars. Unless the balance due thereon is paid in full to the holder within five (5) days after receipt of this notice, a mechanicÂ’s / materialmanÂ’s lien will be placed upon your house and further late fees, fines, and interest will become due.



  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Oh, absolutely do this and don't forget to add the late fee and the cost of filing plus a daily interest (I think 12 percent a year or so is good) and I THINK (but I could be wrong) the lien ends up on his credit record anyhow since it is filed with the county ?

    Still, I prefer to collect my money but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Hell yeah you should kick his azz and do it right so then it's legit lol

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