it is always good to get those phone calls...

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by David Gretzmier, Sep 23, 2010.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    On of our largest accounts called to confirm a couple of days ago that they are going to do the lights this year. a 15k go ahead. Kind of like takeing a deep breath and going ahh, thank you . Although I am typically upbeat and optimistic about this business, I gotta tell you, the past couple of years it has been frustrating to add 40 new clients in the front door only to watch 12-20 essentially go out the back door. I am thrilled to have a growing business, but of course, growth happens faster when less folks go out the back door.

    It looks like I already have 7-8 folks that are either moving or storing lights only this year, but so far no one has let us go just because they were not happy. it is nice to have 3-4 of those just pay us to leave the boxes on the shelves, as that helps cover overhead and pays for the building. I do still have more than a few folks that have not paid for last year, and those are always troubling because I of course won't hang those til they pay for last year, and quite honestly on those folks you don't want to put stuff up unless they pre-pay you for this year too. having to face the double whammy cash out, I have had a few folks in the past just not do it and ALSO stiff you for the previous year.

    I only have one official new client as of today, but I have several bids out that look good to go and are awaiting others to confirm. so as of today, Sept 23, we are officially about 7 clients smaller than we were last year. I think my new way this year of tracking my business growth is two fold, not how many new folks I get each year, but how many "net" new clients I have, or new minus lost.

    the next real way to check is to look at rehang revenue, which should include those storage clients. I love the number of clients because it is easy, but losing a 5k rehang is really like losing 4-5 clients on rehang on average. true growth for us should be a net increase in expected rehang revenue for 2011. and that may include price increases on existing clients as well.

    growth wise, I am also starting to look at that average rehang number as needing to creep up as well. it seems as though most install jobs to load up, drive there, set up ladders and get it done and then go to the next one seems to take a minimum of 3 hours for 2 guys. price increases for clients need to be weighted to reflect the time invested on the smaller jobs.
  2. Don M.

    Don M. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    I guess my question David is why do people still owe you from last year? When we did our handful of jobs last year, I got a check when we were done.
  3. Birchwood

    Birchwood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 218


    That happened with us on a reinstall, a customer may not be home when we finish and we ask them to mail in a check. We had our first one, last year, were we are getting ready to install this years light and still haven't payed from last year. And this customer has been with us from the beginning.
  4. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    This is quite easy to resolve....
    "Pay us within 5 days or the lights are coming down!" No one has ever owed us more than $100 year to year.
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I guess I am too nice and I pay for that. it is also a matter of logistics. collecting from 200 folks ain't easy. I have left messages, and no one calls back. plus, I hate knocking on doors of million dollar plus homes at 7 in the evening to ask for a check. I just got in one check from a 100 year old plus fraternity house at the campus here, and I have done that property for 9 years. they changed house mothers, and poof, now I don't get paid until a year later.

    on that job in particular, this is the time line-

    I do the job in mid- Nov , and send a bill. no response.

    I send a late bill in December, no response.

    the same in January, along with 2 phone calls, and I realize the new outgoing message they have a new house mom. we do the takedown, she is not there. school is out for break.

    more letters throughout the year,

    finally, 4 weeks ago, school starts in late august, I get her on the phone and she claims she did not get a bill. I offer to take her one, but she asks us to mail it. she says to call in 2 weeks if we do not get a check. bad sign.

    call at 2 weeks later, she again claims to get no invoice, and I bring her one. she says I will get a check that week. does not happen.

    last week, and I am not making this up, she asks for another copy of the invoice. I get upset, and she asks for an email copy. email it.

    2 days later she asks for my address. I think she has found a way to get out of paying again, by saying she mailed it and then it gets "lost" in the mail. I call her and email back that I want to come by and pick it up. no response to email or phone.

    finally, friday, 5 days after that, I get a check in the mail. hallelujah.

    ridiculous? maybe. I cannot think of a single person that I OWE money to that would believe me if I tried to pull the same stunt and stretch it out a year. but I have never had a single issue for 8 years getting paid on this account. year 9, massive problems.

    all the other folks that owe me are also 3 year plus clients that have always paid me. but not last year.

  6. Birchwood

    Birchwood LawnSite Member
    Messages: 218

    We got our first new calls of the season today. We received 5 new calls today and set appointments for next week. This is the soonest we've ever advertised We put a half page ad in a magazine that hits 100,000 affluent homes. 1400 dollars

    Last week we put out around 1000 postcards no calls but about 2 dozen hits to the website.

    This coming week we should put another 1000 and 250 mailed to some gated subdivisions.

    We have 50% of our existing customers signed and payed so far.

    Elves and Company

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