how to collect unpaid money?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by kebrowns, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. mowerman41

    mowerman41 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 276

    Look in the paper for free fill then have them drop 20 yards in his driveway while he is at work. You won't get any money out of him but you will get some enjoyment!
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  2. getdown

    getdown LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 297

    Damage control:

    Make a customer happy and they might tell three friends.
    Make a customer upset and will probably tell 10 friends.
    Take a jerk to court who thinks she's always right in the first place and help probably tell an entire village.

    And people remember the bad stuff even if the person talking isn't credible

    It's not worth the impact it would have on my brand

    I'll eat the $125... It's a small price to pay.
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  3. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,560

    I have a collection agency trying to collect almost 3 grand from a customer. Its been well over a year almost two. He refuses to communicate. They even sent people to his work. Some people are just deadbeats nothing you can do
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  4. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    A mentor at a job once said: Is it worth it to prove that you are dead right?

    Because you will win the point now, but later on...........
  5. getdown

    getdown LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 297

    Well said! By you and your mentor. We are lucky to have others to impart their wisdom to us so we don't have to learn all our lessons through hard experience. As a hard headed younger man I would have tried to prove exactly how dead right I was...but it would have proven to be to my detriment. There's definitely going to be sleeze bags we come across in this business...but it's often better to just let some bridges fall apart rather than setting them on fire!
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  6. bpallazza

    bpallazza Inactive
    Messages: 12

    Hi all. Sorry for the VERY late reply. You want to strangle late-payers. But you are also always looking for more business. Here are my two cents...don't get yourself in this situation in the first place. If you will be billing a customer regularly, require a payment method on file and automate billing. If you are doing a big job, do installment billing: get a portion up front. When you do, retain the payment method (credit card or ACH) and automatically bill the customer on regularly scheduled and agreed upon installments. To do this, you need the proper, secure solution.

    Sorry but here comes the shameless self promotion. My name is Brant. I founded ReliaBills ( for businesses like yours. I have lawn care clients here in MN (lemme know if you'd like a reference). We give you the tools to 1) securely accept payments online. 2)Automatically send payment reminders and notifications. And 3) Automate recurring billing and payments. The key to this is a customizable portal that let's your customers self-manage their account (view payment & billing history, make payments, etc.).

    I am sorry that I cannot help in collecting from existing late paying customers. But going forward, we can help eliminate this for you. If I can be of any help, please let me know.
  7. The Turf Guys

    The Turf Guys LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 135

    In the past deadbeats used to drive me crazy. I would devote way to much energy and time being mad about it and I'm sure it had a negative impact on my overall work.

    This is the 1st year I used a local collection agency. They have collected on all 4 customers I sent to them. One of the customers debt was over a year old and they still got me the money. They charge 30% but I figure that is fair enough for me to not have to worry about it.

    ***I am a Fert and Seed company only

    My process
    1. Leave invoice with each Application
    2. After 30 days I send a Late Payment Notification via mail or email
    3. After 60 Days I stop service and I send Final Notice telling them the will be turned over to collection or taken to court if payment is not received within 15 days. I also include in this letter that additional fees will be added to the payment per state regulations
    4. If still no payment then it goes to collections

    I don't care how small it is. One of the customers only owed $35.

    Maybe it makes enemies but I'm not looking for customers who don't pay bills. Luckily new customers are not to hard to find.

    This year will also be the 1st year to just not renew people who are a PITA whether that be with late payments, or needy people or the Call In Advance people. I have found a significant correlation to the PITA types and late payers. These non renewals will account for 2% of my business and I am confident I can more than make that up with new customers.

    Just my 2 cents.
  8. Bridging Financial

    Bridging Financial LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8


    Something that works great for us. Ask the client WHY he can't pay (Bad things happen to good people). How much he can pay per month and what day is best for the client. Then What is the best way for the client to pay Credit Card, Cash, Check, Money Order, Pay Pal, Exchange services, Trade personal property for service. We get 98% of the money owed to clients by doing these basic things.
  9. getdown

    getdown LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 297

    Great advice. People are human and hiccups happen in personal finances. There's a very good chance to person wants to pay you and is embarrassed...they aren't necessarily trying to rip you off (unless they make it obvious they are) you're sympathetic to their situation and willing to work terms (at least you get your money eventually). Also, it's possible that if they are trying to pull a fast one on you they aren't 100% scum bag like my experience and only partially scum bag: your show of compassion and good will might be enough to guilt them into doing the right thing.

    Still though, amazes me about humanity in general, how someone can watch us bust our butts working to make their home look it's best...all along knowing that they aren't going to pay us...and feel that's alright. Too bad landscape maintenance can't put mechanics liens on homes...more of a slap in the face to the owner than filing unjust enrichment and more likely to get paid.

    Had a guy talking to me about how he can understand the mentality of not paying some huge credit card company (not that he would do it because he's a stand up guy and cares to do the right thing)...but that they have insurances on top of insurances for this kind of thing. But intentionally screwing a small local business is beyond bad's proof of being a degenerate. I've always given free passes to people who were sincere and needed one...It's just good people to do that for others. But the golden rule is a good one and if someone demonstrates they aren't worth my time I am happy to be rid of them...and if it's worth it I take them to court.
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  10. Sponsor
    Messages: 804

    Huge problem with collections as well with my smaller operation. It is really hurting us to make payroll when half of the route lags on payment and I am always fighting for it. It gets exhausting. Trim the fat every year, but still seems like almost half of my time is clawing for the money we worked hard for. Thinking about maybe a credit card on file policy, which probably won't go over well.

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