OVERDUE ACCOUNTS

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by cleancut220, Feb 10, 2000.

  1. cleancut220

    cleancut220 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    I would like some ideas as to how you out there handle those customers who have deep pockets but short arms.I ended up with four accounts;two with contracts,that owe me money.I finally decided to turn these accounts over to a collection agency.I did try persoal contact,payment incentives and ,with one account, a friendly letter from my lawyer.I know about the legal process and will more than likely take that path next.I thought that some of you more seasoned ''vets'' out there could give me some creative ways as to either not get intothis predicament or how you handle the collection part.
     
  2. Retro67

    Retro67 Banned
    Posts: 207

    Mechanic's liens work wonders, especially if it's a resident that thinks they are gonna move away on you. I had to call a customer's realtor after trying to catch up with her and mailing numerous bills. Once I spoke of the lien, I had a phone call in less than an hour. <p>You may have to wait to get your money, but most people don't want a lien on their property, just based on principle. Even dirtbags who try to beat honest people out of the money they have earned don't want a lien on their property. Also, I know it sounds silly, but follow up billing with bills marked "past due". You can buy these red stamps at most office supply stores and they have really helped my collections.<p>Most creative way I got a customer to pay. I sent her a Christmas card from my business shortly after having sent her bills in the mail. She mailed me the check at the beginning of January. I know this isn't exactly what you were asking, but I hope it helps.<b>John
     
  3. Try to embarress them into paying you.<p>Send them a letter stating that when you had<br>spoke to them over the phone or in person in the past you had thought they had great character.<p>Try this:<p>During our few phone conversations over the last few years<br>You seemed like a man of great character. Please don’t let<br>$63.60 tarnish my memories.<br>
     
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    The best way to handle this is to prevent it from occuring. Find a billing service that will set you up with an automatic payment service where they debit your customers accounts every month. <p>Secondly, don't ever let people get too far behind. I would say 15-30 days max. Otherwise we POLITELY discontinue service until payment is made. It's a stop-loss so to speak. <p>Finally, I agree with the idea of a lein. And while I would never use one (I am against the principle) I do threaten to from time to time. I have had cases where I couldn't get a payment from people so I send them a letter or left a message kindly threatening to &quot;place a lein on their house at the county courthouse next Monday morning if I don't receive payment prior to that time&quot; and every single time I've done that I've had the money right away. But I hate to even have to do that. If it aint too much, I just forget about it and focus my time on the good apples. Over time, you will learn to weed out the bad apples and keep the good ones. The good ones will make it all worth it. <p>Other options that have worked well for me is routinely dropping by their house at night with a copy of their statement. Typically, I will get payment in full the first time I catch them at home. Some people won't answer their doors though and that's when I have to decide whether it's worth it to make the lein threat or not.<p>----------<br>Jim Lewis - Lewis Landscape Services<br>http://www.lewislandscape.com
     
  5. jrblawncare

    jrblawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 445

    Cleancut220,I would try the lein if its worth it.Since '87 only once have I been burned,I took a gal to small claims court in Rochster won my case but still never got my money it was not alot but its that principle thing.It was a real pain and got me no where,if its not much cut your losses and forget about it.I just moved south from Hilton in December...Do you still have little snow on the ground up there??<p>----------<br>John <br>
     
  6. cleancut220

    cleancut220 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    I really appreciate all of your input. The prevention ideas were of particular interest.I wonder,can you stop service on a contract if a person stops payment first? Yes,we do have some snow on the ground but not enough to plow.So I think I will go ice fishing today
     
  7. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,412

    to cleancut:<p>Be careful with snow. Unless its in the contract that services can be suspended for non-payment you still have an obligation to clear snow even if they dont pay, for the duration of the contract, and you are liable for damages that occur because you didnt plow the area during the contract term. This from my att'y at the suggestion from my ins agent.<p>Bill
     
  8. cleancut220

    cleancut220 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    lawnguy;I am not at all suprised to hear what you said about liability for damage or maybe injury if you discontiue snow plowing.It might not be a bad idea to put that type of clause in a mowing contract as well.What are some of the pros and cons about contracts to begin with? Have some of you used them but stopped?Do some use them on certain customers [new vs. old]only?
     
  9. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    cleancut- use search option above, where you found the registration. Search on 'contract' and you'll find dozens of messages.<p>----------<br>Jim<br>North central Indiana
     
  10. MRPLOW

    MRPLOW LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    Try sending the bill via certified mail, it costs a couple bucks but shows you serious about getting your money. It would also probably be very helpful if you had to take them to small claims court since the customer has to sign for it and you get a legal reciept from the post office. This worked for me the only time I used it.
     

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