Small Claims Court- what’s your magic number?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by rclawn, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. rclawn

    rclawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 648

    What is your magic number? I usually don’t bother anything under $1000 but this year I seem to have lots of smaller bills that have gone over 3 months... Its mainly from one time customers (minimum is $250 for any service- don’t do one time mows either). Regular clients always pay in a relatively timely manner.

    I do make all one time clients sign the estimate agreeing to pay the amount, and have invoices sent to all to confirm completion. And some incriminating texts on a few. So I’m not worried about not getting paid if I were to go to court. it’s thousands I am owed, between several people. But is it worth going to court for 400 bucks... multiple times
  2. JMK26

    JMK26 LawnSite Fanatic
    Male, from Missouri
    Messages: 5,966

    Maybe call the courthouse and ask if you can get them all on the same court date? One trip for you...

    I haven't had to go that far yet. When I have a past due account I send an invoice with a letter stating intentions to go to small claims. The next invoice is sent 10 days later and they get it certified mail. With the exception of 2 clients over the years I have recieved payment within a week of the certified mail. Most people realize there's a paper trail being created when they recieve an invoice that requires a signature and take the threat of court seriously. The 2 exceptions called my bluff but it wasn't much money. Not worth it, but I always make the threat.
  3. La Chandler

    La Chandler LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    Not under several thousand- in other words never. A waste of time and aggravation.
    Scagtastic likes this.
  4. That Guy Gary

    That Guy Gary LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,055

    Have you considered hiring a collection agency? Getting a delinquency on their credit reports has a greater impact than a judgement imo.
  5. Trees Too

    Trees Too LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,699

    Ditto! Thumbs Up
    Before even trying to go thru the legal filing paperwork of a Small Claims Court; I would try to enlist the services of a Collection Agency.

    There is a Collection Agency that has an exclusive department for lawn care/landscaping companies.
    View their link....
    JLSLLC likes this.
  6. rclawn

    rclawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 648

    I honestly never considered it. If they are willing to take collections on a bill of $400 I will definitely be going that route. I always assumed the collections companies wouldn’t be interested in pursuing the smaller amounts. Guess they might be when I show them several (over 10) delinquent accounts
  7. La Chandler

    La Chandler LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    I honestly don't understand accounts receivable. I clients don't pay, they are former clients. And that money is a cost of doing business, just like fuel.
  8. rclawn

    rclawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 648

    Some guys around here do it the old fashioned way, others just “get back” at the client. I would rather just collect and move on, even if it costs me the 20-30% or whatever collection agencies charge. Plus knowing it hit their credit score is good enough for me.

    One guy shows up to peoples place of work (maybe illegal) and calls them out with a bill. He says they usually pay at that point, only one time he had to get someone’s parents involved because it was the kids first house. Have another guy that will back his dump up and dump whatever debris he has loaded up (definitely illegal). Not so sure anything is collected here, just makes an inconvenience for the person.

    I always thought courts were most professional route but now that I think about it collection agency is better approach.
  9. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,118

    I just send this . " Notice to lien Real Property " This is to inform you that this is a notice to place a mechanics lien for the unpaid bill of xxxx dollars .

    Works 99% of the time
    JMK26 and JLSLLC like this.
  10. Trees Too

    Trees Too LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,699

    True dat! The "Accounts Receivable" aspect of the job is the least fun.

    The medium sized companies will usually designate 1 office person just to oversee A.R.

    First, there is the so-called 21-day "courtesy-call" (i.e. friendly reminder).
    Then there are the PAST DUE Notices. [30-day, 60-day, 90-day, and so forth].

    To avoid all of this Non-payment (or sometimes slow payer) B.S. A lot of companies are pressing a prepay and/or an Auto Pay (debit customer's credit card) policy.

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