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Lessons learned (record-keeping)

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by topsites, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I just wanted to share something that recently dawned on me as I concluded that keeping accurate records doesn't cost, it pays!

    Although this may appear to be common sense, there came times when, hooked with nothing but apparently trustworthy customers, I plain got tired of always keeping track of everything, and would let things go off the record for periods of time until I felt like dealing with it again.

    This is not to say that NO records were kept, but rather than having backups in the field and tracking everything minutely, I simply took a more relaxed approach... As with all things, one does notice a discrepancy eventually, it is only a matter of time.

    Thus, due to some recent suspicions on top of customer arguments concerning payments I finally pulled my records for the year, and as I totaled up the figures, a hard and cold truth was revealed to me: It cost me close to $500 dollars in missing payments to not keep right on top of these folks.

    It is something that, although I'll have to chalk it up mostly to experience, also reveals something about human nature that I'll repeat once again: More than a few people (especially those you trust) can and will take advantage of you in less than an instant, if given the chance... Of course one can't prove if it was intentional or not, but the end result is the same.

    So watch it out there guys, be careful.
  2. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    Topsites-that is definitely something I learned early on. I have a simple system for keeping track of everything. I have route sheets that are completed every day. My maintenance foreman hands me the completed route sheet and any reciepts for gas at the end of the day. I have paper spreadsheets in a binder in my office that I fill in when I get home. That info goes into quickbooks. It really is only a few minutes a night. I do that and my phone calls as soon as I get home. I very rarely have a dispute over payment now, and not much money slips away. And I rarely forget to bill people for work completed.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I hear you, I have a similar system but with statistical pads, it's like a spreadsheet on paper so like I said, it's not that I do nothing, but...

    The things is, even if given the benefit of the doubt it would've been one thing if one or two services had been missed, but we're talking 3-4 per account here, and I find it difficult to believe that this was mere happenstance. Concerning the benefit of the doubt, there is maybe one service date here and there that might be questioned, even then it's still at least 2 missing payments per account...
    And I'm at odds with that, I have a problem believing that at least 2 missing payments are purely accidental... 1 maybe 2 ok, and I said MAYBE because we're only talking 10 - 14 total services per account, anything over 1 MAYBE 2 (meaning: not at least 2) is not usually an accident, not on this scale.

    You know, what hurts is I trusted these people, they were all 3+ year customers...
    I keep track of some from time to time (especially when new) but you figure after a few years it should be ok...
    But no.

    I tell you one thing thou: Those few (well it's only 3 so far) are getting a summary of service dates and deposits made with amounts and calculations (again it's not that I have NO records), and every one of them will be given the chance to satisfy the balance but I doubt seriously that the relationship will be here after the end of this season... Also it is most likely I will get to chalk up some and maybe most of that money to experience, thou the thought of sending it through collections anyway is still a 50-50 thing as well.

    Lesson learned thou: never again will I allow this to happen.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Uhh....there's no sense in extracting every last bit of MPG from your rig with your complicated driving technique when you don't bother to keep on top of accounts receivable...that would be the lesson as I see it :laugh:
  5. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,849

    if you don't keep records you'll be out of business in no time flat. even with as few as a dozen clients there is no way you can keep all that up in your head. Use Excel if you're too cheap to buy a scheduling and billing program at the very least.

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