Putting my Foot Down!!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by tiedeman, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    Well, I started to receive payments, lack of payments, and partials payments for fall clean ups that I did this fall. One guy had a bill of $426, and only paid $150 of it. Really makes me mad. For example, two other people, that had bills of $350, and $415 haven't paid either. So, I am doing something that I have never done to regular customers ever before...I am charging late fees.

    I am putting my foot down from now on. No more late payments, no more partial payments. I will be charging late fees. No question about it. If someone complains and said that they didn't receive the bill, tough titty said the kitty. I am sick of not being able to pay my personal and business bills because of the lack of funds. No more. If I lose customers over it, so be it. At least I know that I will have customers that pay their bills on time.:realmad:
  2. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,164

    Hey, im right there with you doing the same thing. Although im no big LCO or anything, i worked for that money and its rediculous they don't pay.
  3. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Doesnt it make you sick that people just feel that they dont have to pay, or can pay late, or partial payment just because its the end of the year and holidays are here. I feel calling these people and asking them how they would feel if thier employer only gave them a partial payment, or no check at all because they feel "they need the money more" or "money is tight now because of the holidays" Give me a break we depend on people paying just like they depend on thier employer paying.
  4. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    well, see I never have charged late fees to "regular" customers because afraid of losing them as a customer all together. I have charged one time customers before.

    I remember I had only had two regular bad customers before than didn't pay right away. One lady it was a $80 bill, that she let go for 4 months, she basically ended up paying double because of the terms of payment in the work agreement. Another lady ( a sister of my manager, which after this happened I put in a "no family member" work policy), we mowed her lawn in October because she had surgery and couldn't do the mowing, it wasn't until April of the next year that she finally paid. Instead of a $40 mowing bill, she ended up paying a $160 bill.

    I mean in the past I always thought, it wouldn't be worth it to charge a customer a late fee and lose a $3,000 account for the year because they get mad. But now I really don't care.

    As Old Dirty B@st@rd would say, "B**ch better give me my money."

    It is like a conversation I was having with my wife tonight. I do so much for these people, and do little things here and there, and this is how they treat me. They don't care about me, they just look at me as another lawn care boy down the street that they will pay whenever.
  5. flam41

    flam41 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 125

    I held back until last month on late fees, but I sent out a policy notice. no one said boo about it & for the first time ever all have paid befor the 20th of the month came around.
    If you are a professional I don't think people blame you for policy or late fees. I bet some wonder why it wasen't there to begin with.
    The day we all stop... ALL STOP... acting like lawn boys & start acting like any other establised buisness is the day we will all be treated better.

    It took some time for me to realise this.
  6. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Look at like this. Have you ever been late paying a bill and recieved a late fee? I have, and I dont get mad at the comapny charging me, it was my responsibilty to pay on time. I wouldnt be afraid of losing customers because of late fees, it will only make you a higher priority on who to pay first. I am guilty in not enforcing late fees myself, next year this will change. My website will have online payment, and customers will beable to view their account at anytime. Everyone knows that thier bill is due the 15th, if the bill was "lost in the mail" it will not be an excuse to not pay or pay late. They can check thier account on the computern at anytime or should know to call if they havent recieved a bill by the 5th. no more games, its getting worse every year.
  7. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

    what you mean? i heard youre bigger than TGCL!

    merry christmas buddy.
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Some of you guys need to get better at collecting payments. I NEVER get paid late on one-time jobs, even small ones like $450. Here's what you need to do:

    First, it all starts with communication. And that communication is a PROCESS that starts right at the time you are bidding. When you give the customer an estimate, on your estimate sheet it should read "Payment terms: Due upon completion of job." And it should be in an obvious spot on the estimate.

    Then, when the customer sees the estiamte and says, "Sounds good. Let's do it. When can you guys start?" Then you say, "Well, lemme look at the schedule. We can do this job next Thursday. We'd start at around 8:00 a.m. and probably finish around 2:00 p.m. After we are done, I'll need to go over the job with you, make sure you're happy with everything, and then collect a check. Will that date and time work for you?"

    Most of the time, if you make it clear to the customer that you are expecting to be paid right when you are finished, they will plan on doing so. So now you have an appointment to collect as soon as you are finished. It's also a really good opportunity to go over the job with the customer and make sure there isn't anything you missed. Often times when I do this, the customer DOES see something minor that we missed. So this gives us the opportunity to fix the problem right there and then. If we missed something, I'll just say to my crew, "Hey, Jose! Can you grab a barrel and rake and go get those leaves we missed over behind that tree while I finish up with Mr. Smith? Thanks!" And then my workers are taking care of that last-minute stuff as Mr. Smith writes his check.

    Now I know some of you are going to tell me that it's not always feasible for people to meet during the day when you are done. Well, I am here to tell you that 90% of the time it IS feasible if you insiste on it. You wouldn't call a plumber over to do some work on your house when you weren't there, would you? Or any other contractor? No. It's customary to be there when the contractor is working, or AT LEAST be there when he is finished, so he can be paid. There's nothing wrong with asking for the customer to do this. So first, try to insist on a meeting when you're all done. Then you'll get paid.

    For the 10% of the time where there just really isn't any way for the customer to get out of work during the daytime, then the next best option is to find out when they'll be home that day and arrange to stop by then. I don't care if it's 6:30 and it's already dark out. I'm gonna get paid for my job THAT DAY, if at all possible. So I'll make arrangements to meet them as soon as they get home from work.

    Often times, when the customer realizes that I am wanting to be paid, and they know they can't be there, they will say, "Oh. Well, it's difficult for me to get out of work that day. Can I just leave you a check under the doormat?" SURE! No problem! That works too! But whatever the deal, again..... I am gonna get paid the day the job is completed! And I make that clear to the customer from the very start - at the bidding process.

    Don't ASSUME anything! Don't assume the customer understands you expect to be paid upon completion. YOU NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR TO THEM! Don't assume you can leave an invoice and they'll pay the entire amount within a few days. If you do, shame on you! That assumption will result in you being let down on a regular basis.

    If you want your business to run smoothly, then you need to take charge of your business. Getting paid on time, every time, is part of that. As a business owner, that's your job. And it's not that hard. I do it thousands of times each year and have been for years. It's just part of my routine. And I honestly never get paid late on any one-time job we do. Because I've already made sure I'm going to get paid before we even start.
  9. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Posts: 4,900

    Jim, thats great advise and I'd like to add that when its time to collect and I give the customer an invoice its in 2 copy. One for me and one for them and right above where they need to sign & date it is the words " All work done and completed to customers satifaftion"

    Can and has saved a lot of trouble down the rd.
  10. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    sure that would work for installation, but not necessarily lawn maintenance I feel

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