How Many Of You?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Victor, Jul 8, 2007.

  1. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    I was wondering how many of you fellow business owners would dump a customer that was 5 weeks late paying their first bill? This customer in question signed up for my fert/weed control program just after I had finished round 2. Since their old fertilizer company had just given them an app a week before I signed them up, I told them that I'd wait until it was time to do round 3 to treat their lawn. I asked them if they wanted "insect protection" when they signed up, because round 3 is when I put "insect protection" down for those customers who elect to pay for it. They said that they did want it, even though it would be twice the cost of a normal application for them. When the time rolled around to do round 3, I treated their lawn with Allectus ( a fertilizer/insecticide combination product), like they agreed to have me do.

    My customers have 2 weeks after an app has been performed to pay for that application. Any payments received after the 15 day mark, are considered to be late and are subject to a late fee (my service agreement clearly spells this out, as does the work order/invoice that I leave on the customer's doorknob). 15 days came and went without me receiving, or hearing anything from them. After their payment was 3 weeks late, I called them and asked about my payment. The wife said that she wouldn't have the money until payday 2 weeks later. I made arrangements to collect the payment from her on that payday. She actually had the nerve to ask when I could drive over to her house and pick up the payment. I told her that I don't normally pick up payments, because my time is money and I'd be burning my own gas to pick up something that should have been sent to me in the self-addressed envelope I left on her doorknob with her work order/invoice. I also explained at this time that me having to pick up payments wasn't part of our service agreement. When she made it clear that she wanted me to come and pick up the payment, I told her that I could do it, but I would charge her for my time. She said that was fine, so that's what I did. When the day came around, I went and picked the payment up from her.

    What's so funny about this whole situation, is the fact that while I was waiting to start round 3, she had me come out to her house for 3 separate service calls. On one service call, she had grass that was going into seed-head formation that she thought was a patch of weeds. On another service call, I went out there to adjust the height of her mower, because they were mowing their lawn way too short. I forgot what the last service call was for, but you get the point never the less (my service calls are free of course).

    Anyway, I'm just curious to see if there's anyone out there reading this thread, that wouldn't dump this customer like I bad habit, the way I'm going to do? I'm looking for good customers. I have no interest in adding bad customers to my customer base. It's not uncommon for bad customers to cost you more in time and aggravation than they pay you.

    I'd love to hear any opinions on this. After all, I know these people would never tolerate it if their employers paid them like that.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    Before my wife had our little man & decided to stay home, she referred one of her hair clients to me last year. She canceled her services w/ Chemlawn & gave me the go ahead w/ a signed contract in hand. I also started w/ the second round of apps. like you did. Got ready to do 3 & 4 & called to see if I could get a check. Of course "It's in the mail". Dummy me, I didn't think she would stiff me since she was friends of the wife, but then after the 3rd & 4th app I couldn't get her to return a call or email anymore to try & collect. Stopped by the house - all the cars in the drive & tv on - nobody comes to the door. Gone Gone Gone.
  3. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    Isn't it funny how some people are like that? If someone else stole money from them, they'd be ready to kill them.
  4. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,220

    Not trying to belittle anyone here.

    But I learned a valuable lesson about 3 weeks ago,

    I had a sit like this, I seen the cars out front, no return calls nothing, I figured I got screwed,

    one day while driving in that area I went by there home and there they were all sitting out front,

    I stopped and come to find out they had a death in the family and were outta town, they left the TV on to make it look like somone was home,
  5. TNT LawnCare Inc.

    TNT LawnCare Inc. LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,157

    You could ask for the money up front before doing anymore applications.
  6. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    That kind of thing happens, but these people were around. They just hadn't paid their bill. All I ask is that if a customer can't pay their bill on time, they contact me and let me know what's going on. If they try to ignore the fact that they owe me money, that's when I have a problem. All I ask, is that customers treat me the way they would in turn wish to be treated.
  7. Victor

    Victor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,430

    You're right. I could do that, but that just adds to my workload if I have to remember to get a payment from them every time I'm ready to do another round of fert.
  8. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    This year I started offering a discount for pre-payment for the entire season. For existing customers this is ONLY if payment is received by February 15. I give a smaller discount if new customers want to prepay as well regardless of time.
  9. lawnjockey56

    lawnjockey56 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    get a lien on their home
  10. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,004

    you could ask for a credit card up front and charge that before you treat the yard like the big companies are switching to.

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