At my wits end with lawn care customers.

It can be very frustrating trying to collect money from late paying customers. Smaller companies tend to have a harder time dealing with this than larger ones. If you can set up a company policy that covers invoicing and payment collection which allows you to be paid before work begins, you may never have to deal with this issue. But don’t wait until a customer catches you off guard, make that policy before you are owed money. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, it’s important to remember you are not a bank and not in the business of loaning money.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have two customers that are always a few days late with their payment and now I haven’t been paid at all. They are almost 30 days late. I have stopped their service but, not sure what to do now. I have made phone call after phone call even stopped at their home to try and get paid. Any advice would be great.”

A second lawn care business owner said “hindsight is always 20-20 and sometimes we have to take a kick in the butt to learn from it and move on.

I have no idea how much money is involved here, you could consider small claims or a collection agency. I also have no idea what your relationship is with these clients.

I would encourage you in mowing to look at what we did (sold most of our mowing accounts for a host of reasons but we still offer a host of yard care services). We email an invoice to the customer the night before. There is either a check waiting for the crew or we have a credit card on file. In mowing there were no exceptions. If a crew arrived and a check was not left where we asked or the owner was not there with payment, service was not performed. Receivables will kill any company.

If you want to chase people that are slow payers, keep going back, waste time trying to collect…more power to you. Receivables kill companies big and small. This is all basic accounting and business management.

Every business owner should meet every customer. There are a host of reasons why but the bottom line is tapping their network and when there is an issue, you can put a face to the name. If you send a bill with a balance forward, there is an issue, as a business owner you need to jump on that.”

A third added “the landscape company I work with is one of the biggest in my area. This company will charge interest on the balanced owed only to some customers while others will get that interest waived. There are customers that pay up to 6 months late, not because they want to but because they are not in the country for half the year and they have no one to pay the service provided to them when they are not here. When such situations arise, the company charges the customer 6 months in advance so they have the money for the first half the year and the other half the customer would owe when they came back.

If they called the customer and they had no answer, they would stop service right away but if the customer explained themselves, the company would wait up to 3 months before they stopped the service.

If the customer didn’t pay after 3 months and decided not to pay at all, they had a collections agency and they would let the collection agency take care of it.

Customers would be taken to small claims court only when it came down to contractual debt. The amount of money owed had to be more then $500. The logic behind that is they figured they would lose more money if they took a customer to small claims court if the amount owed was less then $500 because of the time lost dealing with the paperwork and going to court. If the amount was less than $500, the company would just send it to a collections agency.”

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