Collecting late fees...

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by topsites, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. Picture Perfect Landscape

    Picture Perfect Landscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 176

    I don't see how. Takes about 10 min the morning of or the night before to print out bills for the day. When you finish the property fold stick in a plastic bag made for invoices and hang on flag or door handle... takes 45 sec maybe @ the end of a job. Not unprofessional... is actually how alot of people do it in the area. Saves postage as well.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    First off, thanks for the great responses and sorry about my initial tone of aggravation, I shouldn't post when in that kind of mood, but I did.
    It frustrates me when the thoughts run through my head of the reasons they must be giving themselves as to why they are somehow entitled to not pay. And see it I do, especially when there's a satellite dish and a late model auto in the driveway: I am their last priority.
    And why should I be? Because they don't care, that's why.
    To some extent it's usually my fault for not seeing a red flag, but one can only pre-screen but so hard before one has NO customers lol.
    What if they did this crap, say with the auto mechanic?
    Ohhhh, I get it... They keep the car until paid in full.
    What if they did it with the electric co/ etc?
    They cut off an essential utility.
    So, I have to have some kind of method (preferrably legal) that takes little time and costs little money on my part, but to enforce collections.

    I pride myself on collecting ALL bills due, if for no other reason than I want to make SURE nobody brags to their friends about it... As I am convinced that whichever word gets out (enforces collections / does not) has a definite impact on future issues of this kind. That, more than anything, is the reason for enforcing, for me.

    On the note of legalities concerning late fees, afaik all I have to do is inform them at some time during the process BUT I certainly will look further into it. It may or may not be this way here in virginia, but before I say yay or nay, I'll find out for sure and appreciate the time spent informing me of this.

    I have a small pad and hand-write the bills myself, as with you, it hardly takes an extra 60 seconds and I usually do it when I put up the trimmer / start the blower (or whichever is the last piece of equipment to be used), then stick the bill neatly folded in my back pocket and as I go past the door, slip it in some crack.
    Works for me...

    The part that gets me is 99.+% of my customers I never have a problem with anymore, years of experience have taught me to pre-screen and do so diligently and run at the first sign of trouble. But with some, I either don't see the warning flags OR I see it later in hindsight.

  3. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    only the kids cutting lawns leave bills at the door here, all the professional companies bill monthly. I see your not writting invoices, thats not too bad, but hand written invoices left at the door..... not going to fly around here.....:) that would also mean the customer has to write 4 to 5 checks per month, plus many more trips to the bank for deposits... just not cost efficient, but glad it works well for you....:)
  4. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    I have both Quick Books Pro which calculates an annual interest rate of 25% from the billing date and legal software program to send out legal notices to those who choose not to pay. I don't have much of a problem collecting from customers but when I do the legal notice I send them gets my money comming in with late fees. Before you all decide what your late fees should be you better check with the State Dept of Rev. to see whats legal. Unless its in writing on a contract you will be liable to what the State sais is legal.
  5. lawnpro724

    lawnpro724 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,201

    Make sure you send you collection letter certified mail so when its time to go to court you have proof they recieved it.
  6. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    I would say the only way you can get the fees are if your contract addresses it. I couldnt beleive there was no limit ($45 seems high), so I googled it and it seems like your right, but if you type in "virginia late fee limit" this thread is the 3rd link that comes up.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    There may be no limit in Virginia, but I do know if you go to court without a contract the courts will only allow you to charge I believe 9% interest per year.

    Maybe anything goes with a contract, my storage facility charges $10 after 10 days late, then an additional $50 after 20's in the contract.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    To me, this thread was about when a customer fails to pay the late fee but does pay the original amount due.
    Or pays only a part of it when payment in full was demanded, and you know this is all the money you will see.

    It's just another version of the customer exercising their authority over my company...
    But it doesn't work like that, because all argument aside, I am the owner and when push comes to shove, I make the final decision.

    Thus I am convinced once I enforce a late fee through collections, the nonsense with paying just the original amount owed will come to a quick, decisive halt.

    It still amazes me, they just HAVE to test you.
    Like kids, I swear :laugh:
    But let word get around that this guy doesn't play, and I guarantee the silly game stops.

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