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Please don't move this thread

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by chipk1, Dec 4, 2006.

  1. chipk1

    chipk1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 398

    Note to moderator *Please don't move this thread. I need a reality check for a billing solution for LCO's. PLZ?


    I am pretty proficient in php/mysql programming. I have been playing with the idea of developing a online invoicing solution for LCO's. I have been debating whether there would be enough demand for this project or if my time would be wasted.

    My idea would be to offer a complete online invoicing solution with features like:

    . automatic reoccurring invoicing

    . option to send email invoices

    . offering a invoice mailing service for around $1.25 per invoice snail mailed

    . customer entrance for viewing invoices and sending them to a gateway like Paypal credit card processing which would allow for invoice to automatically be marked as paid. This method would alleviate any responsibility from the LCO for some kind of hack that resulted in exposing customers CC numbers

    . sending late payment reminders.

    The features that could be integrated into a project like this are endless. The question is how much is one truly willing to pay for a service like this. In my opinion, this would be a BIG help for smaller LCO's that remain scheduled to the hilt and dread having to spend their day off printing, stuffing, and mailing invoices.

    Would you honestly be willing to pay for a service like this or is this all wishing think on your behalf? Your comments are very much welcome. Also what features would you want in a online invoicing system?
  2. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,995

    my guess would be that if it costs less than I currently spend I would be interested.

    my question is how are you going to going to get paid monthly, per invoice, percentage of billed goods? Who pays the CC fees? What if the LCO wants to be paid with checks or has a 50/50 mix?
    will you be rectifying who paid and who didn't? It gets complicated once people don't pay on time.
  3. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,988

    I think a mod should move this to the business management forum, where it should have been posted in the first place:dizzy:

    Personally, I would rather do the billing, so that if something would get missed or screwed up, I wouldn't have to bother trying to blame anyone other than myself.

    It's a great idea, but I'd think that any company large enough to need a service like this, probably has their own secretary/accountant on-site to perform those tasks.
  4. chipk1

    chipk1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 398

    Sorry about the posting in this board. Been a while since I have been here and didn't realize there have been many boards added. Moving this to business manage is fine. This idea was in response to a thread in WEBSITE board but there seems to be little participation there.

    This project would be more towards the small to mid sized LCO's. It would basically take care of tracking late payers and notifying the LCO by email when accounts cross a certain threshold decided upon by him. I haven't really worked out a cost to price analysis yet. Just trying to get a feel for the need for a product like this. If I were to guess a price at this point I would say cost would be around .50 cent per customer per month bill monthly which would include email billing option. Snail mail would be extra of course to cover labor, postage, and materials.
  5. Military Lawns

    Military Lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 323

    I started my LCO partly because I wanted something to do (retired 21 years USN) and partly because my previous LCO came when he wanted and then constantly overbilled me. This even after I made repeated phone calls and sent letters. Finally, I got my business started and decided that besides a good cut and trim, people wanted good customer service and accurate billings. I am small (20 lawns) and currently have no intentions on bringing in any new accounts. I currently use Microsoft Outlook, Access and Word to write form letters and generate statements. Because it keeps my overhead low and is basically automated via MS Outlook...this works for me.

    However, I am currently looking at software specifically tailored to LCO's. So far I have only reviewed CLIP. I will make a post of my findings and what I like (no recommemdations or endorsements).

  6. chipk1

    chipk1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 398

    I have found no easy to use LCO specific invoicing software either. That is why I am researching the need for this. There can only be 2 reasons for this product not being available.

    1. No one has really thought about it yet.
    2. There is not enough demand for it.

    I, being a 6 year veteran in a owner/operator LCO position, know what a hassle it is to keep up with invoicing and trying to keep those habitual 30 day late payers straight. I figure there has to be a better way. I have checked out many programs like gopher. They may be great for scheduling larger LCC's but are just plain to complicated and too expensive for the smaller guys.
  7. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    I use Quickbooks & while it was a little difficult to get tailored to my needs, now that I have it just right it takes me a few minutes to do my monthly invoicing.
  8. chipk1

    chipk1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 398

    How much are you paying now? Do you do all your own invoicing/accounting, or do you pay someone else to do this for you?
  9. chipk1

    chipk1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 398

    That is actually what I use now. But you still have to manually enter every invoice every month. Would it not be easier to just click a button and have emails sent and invoice automatically created? How many invoices a month do you have to enter?
  10. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    I know emailing everything w/ the touch of a button would be much easier for me, but I have quite a few customers that are not up w/ the technology. For those that are, I think they would really appreciate me keeping the invoice online so it is close to their online bill paying. This would also keep lost invoices to a minimum. I currently am sending 150 monthly invoices a month. That is 1 for most customers w/ the previous month's bagged leaves (if any) tacked onto the current month. In the winter months I bill per event/visit.

    Another thought, which I'm sure you have considered, is that you can already do the emailing w/ QB. I haven't got that far because I am too busy to play w/ it but I know you can do it. For right now, I check all invoices as "to be printed" & print them all at once. I then use Word & a template that I made for my mailing labels in alphabetical order to print out all the addresses directly onto envelopes. It takes me about 20 minutes to enter & print everything if I don't need to add much of anything to an invoice.

    You will also want to make sure that your software works for snow removal, landscaping, chemical applications, & tree services. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things but that's what comes to mind right now.

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