Collecting Payments

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by TexasFire221, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. TexasFire221

    TexasFire221 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 480

    I have a customer I did some first year decorating for. If you read one of my other threads she was a once in a lifetime customer. She never asked how much but rather when can you do it. I had some issues with not having enough supplies and had to wait on a shippment. She wasnt very happy and informed me next year we would get them up earlier. I apologized and agreed. Well we got her up and running. This is there weekend home with they visit almost every weekend. I talked to her husband last weekend and he said he came down but she said in their hometown. He is very pleased with the lights. I ask him what to do with the final invoice and he informs me that he is going to Germany for Christmas so just email it to the wife and she will wire the money to my account. I emailed and called numerous times with no response. She owes me over $4,000.00. I really don't want to piss them off but I would really like to get paid. What should I do?
  2. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Well, sadly, some people don't run on your schedule. I still have 4 accounts not piad in full. Only one of them worries me, the rest will pay... when they get called by me next week.

    I wouldn't be worried until they get back from Germany and keep blowing you off. If it hits mid Jan, just send them a letter to pay you.. or it goes to collection. If they still don't pay.. sell the debt to a local collection agency and move on.
  3. the ace

    the ace LawnSite Member
    from usa
    Messages: 147

    $4000.00 for lights?;) Please post pics, this diplay must be unreal!
  4. TexasFire221

    TexasFire221 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 480

    Thats just he remaining balance. Well I called her again on Sunday with no answer so I called from a different number and guess what, she answers. She asks me what I want because she is super busy. I don't know what I did to this lady but I damn sure don't want to lose her as a customer. She tells me she wont even be here for Christmas to expect her the first of the year. $8,000 for lights and she won't even see them. Very strange.
  5. britelights

    britelights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 91

    So did she pay? When she said she was super busy -- I hope you told her that you needed to collect her remaining balance before she leaves town. Do you accept credit cards? If so -- get the cc info from her over the phone and run her credit card.

    I know it's nice to get the big dollar customers...but from personal experience (see my thread on difficult customers)...sometimes they just aren't worth it. Unfortunately some of these wealthy people seem to think they are entitled to pay what they want, when they want, IF they want.
  6. TexasFire221

    TexasFire221 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 480

    No she didnt pay. The house I decorated is their weekend house that was just built. She wanted all LED all 4 sides of the house and complained about us not having them up already but hasnt even been to the house to see them. She lives 5 hours away. Yes we take credit cards but only ever have a few customers use them.
  7. britelights

    britelights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 91

    When you talked with her on the phone -- did you ask about payment? When she said she was very busy I definitely would have said something along the lines of "I understand you're very busy -- I just need to collect your remaining balance. Would you like to put that on a credit card and we can take care of this right now over the phone?"

    You deserve to get paid. I'll be changing the wording on our Proposals and adding more fine print for next year. And that fine print will include something to the effect of 'if final payment is not received wihtin 5 days of install, the lights will be removed and you will lose your deposit.' It will sound better than that, but you get the idea.

    BTW --- do you have a signed Proposal or Contract?
  8. TexasFire221

    TexasFire221 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 480

    No I sure didnt ask her about it. Guess I can't complain if I didnt ask huh. Im having been in business long enough so I am too trusting. I didnt want to bother her about it because im scare to lose them as a customer. They have spend well over $15,000 with my business over the last 3 months. But I guess if I wanna stay in business I better learn how to take control. Anyways, I too will be changing up some fine print on my contracts.
  9. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    As my wife would say, if they havent paid you then you have already lost them..

    That stems from a lein I have on a former customer, almost 20k after lawyers and court costs, and they did not even show up in court or respond to the summons, they had no intention of paying. And that was the 3rd season, they paid the first two and then played games in the 3rd.

    We have a house that we are going to tomorrow, either have money in hand or I walk with my timers and cords so they cant plug in for christmas eve.

    Do whatever you need to in order to get paid in the next 48 hours. Christmas lights lose a little bit of value on the 26th
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I guess I am just an old softie. I collect money when I need it. I send invoices, and some folks pay fast and some are slow. my priorities right now are getting about 35 more jobs filmed, and lining up about 15-20 jobs ( or more) to takedown between Dec. 26 and New years day, and then trying to see how fast we can get the rest of the jobs down. If I were to focus on collections and running around to the 90 to 110 folks who owe me money right now, I would not get jobs filmed or have work planned for 2 crews to start getting stuff taken down. it has always been more important for me to run this business than to have a ton of bucks in the bank on Dec. 24. I just need enough in the bank to cover my bills and payroll and the occaisional 1000 buck hiccup.

    I think the language Christmas decor uses on the back of thier bids is about as strong as you can legally get away with. something along the lines of if you receive your invoice and we do not hear from you disputing the invoice, we assume the charges and services were valid and the payment is due.

    Also, when you get to court, the judge does not consider their payment late until 30 days after the takedown is done. The contract is a charge for install, takedown and storage. at this point I really have not completed anyone's contract yet. I have had one judge point out that I had not stored it for one year yet, so I was asking them in effect to pre-pay me for one year of storage. which is true.

    I like to get paid as fast as anyone else, and my contract may say thet it is due upon completion of install, but folks, let's be honest here- they bought a service of product, install, and takedown. and although I would love to collect all my money before Christmas Day, and yes, I reccomend you try, we are very far from completing our work. The very fact that I will have 3 crews running for at least the first 3 weeks of january screams the fact that our job is far from done here.

    I have always thought that when folks buy our service it is many times an emotional impulse buy. I do agree that folks seem to come to their senses in Janary and February when I call and collect some invoices. It is better to get it collected before Christmas if you can. I just don't have the time.

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