!#@$^%#$ Frustrated with people not paying :/

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Feb 4, 2012.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    I know a lot is due to the economy.. but goddam, if i cant afford something on cash or credit, i cant buy it!

    We've been in court it seems every week this month with the attorney for past due collections from the last year, or two even.

    Recent job history here: and i can state all the facts because none of our other company managers or employees were involved in any of the steps.

    1. Customer calls, is buying a house, wants two trees removed.
    2. "I" go and look at the house, photograph everything, I assume he wants the two biggest trees taken down.
    3. Call him up, verify which trees, hes specific about the two next to the garage on the left, one taller one and one shorter one. I didnt take account onsite of exact species of each tree, for these purposes, they're evergreens, even though one could be a pine, cedar etc. specifically.
    4. Give him a price, he wants all the stumps ground... which our local rental places are $185-225 for a stump grinder for 4-8hrs. Both trees i think we can pull the roots out with our little tractor, save on the stump grinder cost/rental/hassle and mess. $450.00 to cut down both trees and remove stumps, even though i plan to remove most of the roots too, so they can plant at a later time.
    5. Contract estimate is written january 19th, he signs and returns jan 24th, wife calls Jan 31st, they want this done asap and want a time when we'll be able to schedule it. I call the husband "original contact" back next morning, 8am, that the crew will be out there around noon time.
    6. I take two other employees out and we cut down two trees, load into truck, pull stumps out with tractor, cut all exposed "larger" roots out of the ground, backfill, rake out nice, clean up lawn where any mud fell out of tractor tires, blow everything off, driveway, sidewalks, road, even window sills, and bricks on the side of the house where some dirt from the roots growing against it were.

    7. Guy calls up that afternoon, says looks great where we took out the two trees in the middle but the other one is still there?! Im thinking wtf, buddy i have to go look up your invoice to see what exactly was billed and yadda yadda. Sure enough, "Remove two evergreens to left of garage in front of house", so he doesnt realize i was one there too that did some of the work, and starts with well, we need the other one taken down too.

    I call him back the next morning, and tell him that although we normally won't invoice tree removal under the $250.00 minimum, i agree to charge only a $150 additional amount for that other tree to the far left side of the house. Now he gets pissed.... says were unprofessional all of a sudden and, don't ever call them back when they've been calling and calling to find out when this work would be done.... FYI, he originally told me prior to the quote that they'd only be moving into the house January 27th. So i told him that the quote is for "two" trees to the left of the garage, that he signed and initialed off....then he accuses us of taking down a tree he still wanted and a very expensive tree..see where this is going.

    So after falling into a pissing match about what is quoted and what was done, and him pissed because the "pine" isnt a "evergreen" , we only did half the job, so he's willing to send us now $200... which isnt half but still subject to approval of his wife which might decide shes not paying any of it.

    Again, a job that i know no other employees mus-communicated any information for the company, and yet hes not going to pay, we'll have to go to court, have all the photos, before/during & after, and were going to sue for $450+ court costs & $250 collection fees "attorney, and then go into mediation to settle on $225 "half" prior to seeing the judge for a company vs client trial...

    We were recently billed a total of $570 for a client who owed $400 initially before court costs because the jerkoff didnt show up for court, we got a default, and then filed a motion "family emergency" or some BS, scheduled another date for this past week and he was a noshow again!

    Thats a win in anyones book to get a default for the judgement amount in full, but even at our "reduced" rate for collections with the attorney, anything short of $1000 is wasting money, not gaining it back.

    I'm considering for residential accounts they pay in full up front "they technically do for lawn service per month", for all landscape jobs for this season. We have far too many overseeding jobs, pressure washing jobs, paver restoration etc. where people see one weed or don't see all the grass grow or want to "give it a month or two" to see if any mold/algae grows on the sides of their houses before they pay the bill :/ By then you cant get in contact with them and your stuck with another $200-1000 job you get zilch for:cry:

    Bad enough even the GCs and bigger management companies are paying late all the time, worse to spend this amount of time trying to collect to settle on pennies on the dollar.
  2. nepatsfan

    nepatsfan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,142

    People svck. Good luck collecting
  3. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    heres photos.. trees up were before obviously, no trees were during and lastly, when it was done, all the roots came out too that were growing along the foundation. Nothing bigger than a couple pieces 1/4" were left under the dirt.








    property photo 2011-2.jpg
  4. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    we had even talked to the customer about replacing these two trees with something smaller to put back into this area, and were only going to charge plant costs, not additional labor to install them... they said leave the area empty for now, so the client knew both of these trees "little and larger" were coming out :/
  5. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    I won't do an estimate unless the prospect or their agent is there to confirm things in person. My contracts have gotten very detailed over the years. Even so, your situation sucks.

    I would be more species specific in my tree removal estimates and details in the future. Nail plastic numbered tree tags to the tree for reference and document them in correspondence and in the contracts. The client can see these tags before any work is undertaken. As an alternative use orange ribbons and number them with a permanent ink felt pen.

    The cities around here all have bylaws and the client has to hire me first to do an evaluation and write up a detailed Arborist Report with pictures, survey maps and charts before any-thing can be done. The client goes to city hall with the Arborist report and the city decides if the trees can come out. One large city near here wants an arborist report done for pruning!

    We started having clients pay in advance for maintenance and they pay a deposit before installation work is started. Design is a whole other type of money game

    Having maintenance clients pay at the start of the month helps us with payroll, taxes, insurance and workers compensation that are all due at the start of the season. (ouch)

    Clients don't want to pay in advance for landscaping and there are alot that won't sign a contract. I just walk away. We have to pay in advance for things like cable t.V. and cell phones here, so what's their problem?

    I've lost more sleep and been incredibly stressed over bad customers or property managers. Even with our changes in policy and signed contracts, we can still get burned and still lose money every year. Some people are just jerks to deal with. Accepting credit cards for payment and taking their number for reference on the contracts has helped. People still want the upper hand over us though.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2012
  6. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    Out of curiousity, did you get a deposit on the job when you got the contract?

    When we do a job, I always get a deposit of at least 50%. This way I get my wholesale costs covered, plus the employees that I need to pay. That way if there's a snafu with the contract, I can at least get the guys paid.

    Go after this guy, get your money.

    btw: good job on the removal!
  7. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    Bum deal.

    Ya I get 40-50% down on larger landscape type jobs. That way if I get the shaft on the final payment, at least my materials and some of my labor is covered.
  8. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Normally we do a 50% deposit for anything over $200... some jobs like this i'll let it slide because theres no materials overhead... even so, i'd at least have half the money :/ We're just going to require everyone to pay up front and in the last year taking credit cards finally, just force them to use that with a signed contract...cant cover ourselves any other way really
  9. TimNNJ

    TimNNJ LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 321

    ya get your money!..shame on me I was lax on late payers for lawn maintenance and I am still chasing it down..landscape jobs are 50/50...or at least get a cc number on file..not so lax this year that is for sure!..

Share This Page