A lesson for the young lawn boys

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by environment, Sep 22, 2005.

  1. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    This is a lesson I just learned, and let me tell you, it came as a shock to me. I never would have suspected this in a million years, but without further delay, here it is...

    Two years ago I got a really great contract, take care of a storage unit center, and an industrial lot, (same owner, and on the same piece of property) and park all my equipment in the lot as well.

    I was able to give a good price and still make money on it since there is litterally no travel time, and the lots are connected.

    Anyway, the manager asked me to take care of his home and his three neighbors. So I had each sign a contract, and we have been handling them all since.

    About three months ago I had two guys do a small clean up in the back yard of one of the neighbors. The guys where there for 4 hours, did the job, he ok'd everything, and I gave him the bill.

    The bill was for $200, I think that was way more than reasonable, as a matter of fact, I think it was way to cheap, but I wont sit here and cry over spilt milk.

    Three months go by, and he doesnt pay the balance of the job, or his maintenance bill. So now I make the cancellation of services call.

    He says that $200 is outrageous, and he should not pay that amount for two young punks to clean some leaves for two hours, and then sit on there ass for the other two. He will pay $120, and If I dont agree to his terms, then he will not pay for that or the maintenance services.

    Now I wont go into the discussion that followed, or the end result, because as of now, the matter is not resolved, however, that is not where the bulk of the problem lies.

    I go to my storage account at the end of the day to unload the equipment, and one of the new guys there with a big mouth, tells me some info. that he could not have none about on less he was telling the truth. Turns out he knew about the situation already, because that client had premeditated the whole thing, under the instruction of........

    the manager of the storage unit place, the guy who got me the houses in the first place. He told his neighbor that I'm just a young punk with no financial backing to take anyone to court, so if I get screwed, I really cant do much about it, especially since the client who owes the money is a lawyer. He told the guy to agree to my price, and then argue it when its done and refuse payment. Turns out this is not the first time they pulled off a stunt like this. The have done it to a mason, and a home repair man.

    Well, I am still working on what to do to handle the situation, but the lesson is. Trust absolutely nobody when business is concerned. Because even the hand that feeds you may bite you when you least expect it. Because of my age, they felt they could rip me off.
  2. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    take 'em to court. call up the home repair guy, the mason, and anybody else he has done this to, and see if they will file too.
  3. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Whats your contract say? Did you tell them the price of the clean up before doing it? And if you did , did the client sign a change of work order or a contract for just the clean up. If the answers yes to the above then don't let him intimidate you. Send him a cert. letter demanding payment and if you don't receive it check into placing a mechanics lien on the prop. If the answers no to any of the above then you just learned a real valuable lesson and it only cost $80
  4. GreenUtah

    GreenUtah LawnSite Senior Member
    from SLC, UT
    Messages: 866

    older has the right idea. Place a lien on each property after you send one additional notice. You can do it at your local county clerk's office, costs very little and will freeze any financial dealings revolving around the real estate, ie mortgages, home equity loans or sale. This is a hard core move and not everyone has the stomache for it. They will have to take you to court on their own dime to remove it or resolve it. It's always worked for me with the something for nothing crowd, which by the way, has nothing to do with how young or old you are or how big your company is. It's a game for most of these morons, show them you play for keeps, then tell everyone you meet(contractor) about them.
  5. GTLC

    GTLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 700

    Yes, its happened to me before by a guy who seems to have a habit of stiffing people. All you have to do is better client screening.
  6. whitleys

    whitleys LawnSite Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 55

    do the lien. The trigger that will make him pay is when he goes to buy another home, the lien has to be settled before he can finance another home or sell this one. Be sure to include interest compounded at the highest rate allowable.

    Another quicker solution is to turn it to collection. That has always worked for me.
  7. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    I have a full contract on the maintenance with the clean up at the price of $200 we agreed on. I without a doubt was planning on taking him to court, however, did not know I could put a lean on his house for that. Thanks for that info. I will go to the clerks office to see what I can do tomorrow. I just hate dealing with these people. In all honesty, Im 22 years old, young yes, stupid no. I have full detailed contracts with all my clients whether its for a $50,000.00 landscape renovation, or picking up sticks. I was dragged into this business from the age of 6, and once I got my degree in Horticulture I started my business, So I am only rapping up year 2.
    I think I have done very well thus far, only two clients have tried to screw me, and about 85% praise me, the other percent I just never hear anything from, and they say no news is good news. In total I only maintain 20 accounts. 3 are commercial, the rest residential. 7 are full service, as far as chemicals, cleanups, pruning, mulching. The rest are pretty much just cuts. In all honesty I am generally expensive. The only time I low ball is if I actually screw something up estimating (which fortunately I have only done once, but wow was that a doozy). Next year I will 99% most likely be adding a town maintenance contract to the mix that will make me pretty much what I make off of the whole 20 accounts. I have a very close friend whose father is one of the top guys in the DPW.
    Otherwise we do a very high amount of construction, thats my favorite, and we did a high amount of it this year, from walls, to walks, and all other kinds of stuff. Since I spent my whole childhood mowing lawns with my father, the interest really is not there anymore. Thats why I hate these circumstances, I barely have enough motivation for maintenance as is, and then this garbage occurs.
    ahh, live and learn
    here's to next year
  8. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    If the clerk can't help then try the auditors office as thats where it will be placed and if not them the county recorder as you will need the full legal description of the property. Take pencil and paper as they can be lenghty. Plus as was mentioned don't forget to add intrest, filing and removal cost of the lien. and if possable [depends on what your contract says] lost time and wages.
  9. environment

    environment LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    actually the contract says that if a client breaks the contract in any way that they are responsible for the remianing years balance as well, with late fees
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I think before you do ANYTHING at all you need to get YOUR equipment OUT of their storage and do so quietly and asap. Not trying to sound cute but I think if you take any legal action, this increases the chances of something disappearing.
    The best way is to go and rent another storage first and immediately start moving your stuff but try and not be OBVIOUS about it (so like don't be mad, just do it like it's all business as usual, lalala).
    Then come on back here and we'll get your money happening, too.

    Say Bobby G., if you read this do you got that shovel trick handy anywhere?

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