Honestly,How many times have you been burned?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GSO LAWNEN4CER, Apr 20, 2018.


    GSO LAWNEN4CER LawnSite Senior Member
    from GSO NC
    Messages: 467

    I’ve heard that it’s a part of business. I think today was my first. At this point I just want to recoupe something. I’ve never had a customer pull anything like this before. Agree to the price and the work to be done. Then when it’s done complains about everything. I asked her to send me pics of the areas that needed more attention. She sends four pics. So I go back out and fix those areas. Now it’s the pine straw I put down. The pine straw was ok yesterday.
  2. bluetruck

    bluetruck LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 414

    i have had a few like that in the past, first thing i do for big jobs (us your opinion on what big is) i ask for as a minimum of have the money up front or at LEAST enough to cover materials. that way i dont lose much or anything, i just wont profit. we also write up an estimate and have them sign it. this takes care of most issues, SOMETIMES i let this slide a little for long time customers, but i NEVER do for new customers. if you did the work you guys agreed to and it is up to your standards, seriously take a step back and decide if it actually looks right/good. if so, then just tell her, you did the work you agreed to, the pine straw was already OKd, so time to pay up basically. some people are like that though, from the beginning they never planned on paying you.
    SS Lawn Care and GSO LAWNEN4CER like this.
  3. Mitty87

    Mitty87 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,333

    In my first year I only got burned for $300, maybe .15% of total sales that year. I expect to get burned for maybe .5-1% this year hopefully less. What is a normal amount to have uncollected? I know some have never had it happen but you can't guarantee every payment unless you get paid upfront, CC is nice but they can back charge and get away with it.
  4. BigJlittleC

    BigJlittleC LawnSite Gold Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 3,707

    So far I have always colleted. Some took some time and pressure to pay but they always have so far. Knock on wood!

    One time I did walk away from a client after some work was completed. I didn't write up a contract and there was alot of miscommunication. I told them to not worry about payment and we went separate ways. It was a small amount under a $100. Learned alot from that mixup. It wasn't a true burn but it's the only work that was billed and not collected.
  5. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,565

    The same guys that get burned don’t have contracts and swear they aren’t necessary
  6. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 10,857

    Never had a contract. Always been paid sooner or later. No credit check on people it like rolling the dice. Contracts don't matter to dead beats. I always try and get paid up front until I get to know someone really well. Just keep hounding her until she pays you
  7. Todd73

    Todd73 LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Florida
    Messages: 2,583

    Only been burned twice.

    A woman hired me to pull weeds, mulch, trim hedges, and plant a small palm tree. Large yard. Her lawn guy only did lawns, no additional work. She’s on the end of three houses I mow in a row, and I wanted to make it four in a row. I gave her the price, but told her lawn maintenance customers get a discount. She said she’d like to switch, but she’s prepaid for a couple of months. Like a moron, I told her I’d take her at her word, give her the discount, then she can switch over when her pre-pay expires. Did the work, got paid, then emailed her at the end of the month asking when she wanted to be on the schedule? She tells me she can’t get a hold of her guy to find out when she’s paid through. Month goes by and I email her again asking if she wants to be out on the schedule. Same story, guy won’t return her calls. I’m thinking, “He doesn’t need to return your calls. Leave a message and say your’re fired.” I emailed another week later asking if she had any luck getting a hold of him, she said no, and I gave up and ate the money lost. I’ll still see her occasionally and she’ll wave, say hi, and act like nothing happened.

    Second time, I let a customer go. His back yard was sloped pretty steep and ended with about a four foot drop into a canal. Mowing, made a turn, lost all traction, and slid backward/diagonally toward the water. Slid back into a small palm tree. If I hadn’t, then I was about to jump and the mower was going for a swim. That incident, along with the fact that the guy’s yard was always full of dog crap and to gain access to the yard I had to move landscape timbers that were holding the gate closed that were usually covered in fire ants, I told him I was done. It was the last cut of the month, sent him the invoice, and he’s never paid. Guess he didn’t like being fired.

    Lessons learned:
    1) No discounts.
    2) Non-lawn maintenance work, customers pay a deposit, save card on file, card get charged remaining balance upon completion.
    3) Reoccuring lawn maintenance work is done pre-pay, CC auto draft. No working for a month, hoping to get pain, then getting stiffed.
  8. flybynite

    flybynite LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 743

    Never been burned and never had a contract.
  9. grassmonkey0311

    grassmonkey0311 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,402

    For mowing, I take sign ups online. They enter their address, a price populates, they enter their CC and sign up.

    There is no personal interaction because everything is done online. Hardly ever do I actually see who these people are. You can only imagine what type of "keyboard warriors" I get each year.

    I run into customers like you had every year. These flakes sign up, then complain about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. We have a specific mowing minimum, so they can't sign up for 1 mowing and quit unless it's a one time mowing. Had a customer last year, signs up, then wants to quit after the first mowing. She says the quality is "crappy". I told her we'll mow it again, I sent a truck out the next day. She says it's still "crappy". I asked her if she could be specific on what may have happened, but she wouldn't tell me. The employee who did the mowing both times never got any complaints, and the spot checks I did on his lawns looked great. I never did find out exactly what "crappy" meant, she never told us. She said if the service wasn't canceled she would call the police if we showed up.

    Had another last year sign up for a one time mowing. We did it, 2 weeks later she signs up for regular service. After 2 mowings, she quits. Pretty much says the same as the "crappy" lady. I sent an email explaining it's the same employee who had done the previous mowings, and the 1 time mowing, which she was happy with before. My hunch was she didn't want to pay the one time mowing rate again, so she signed up for regular service and figured she could complain and cancel after 2 cuts. I held her to our terms and called her out on my hunch, which she admitted was correct.

    Some people complain just to complain. Maybe they want something for free or maybe they never had any intentions of paying full price.
  10. Mow-Daddy.com

    Mow-Daddy.com LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,241

    I never use contracts for residential customers.
    Only been burned once for $40.
    I'm sure if I hounded her she would have paid. Was always a late pay. Several times I stopped showing up until she called wondering where I was.
    Then would pay up. So I finally said either I get paid each week or I'm done. Well as I'm pulling up to her house she was just pulling out. She unrolls her window, says she'll be back in 5 minutes. Never came back. And neither have I.
    SS Lawn Care likes this.

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