How to deal with a lawn care customer’s bounced check.

As if running a lawn care business wasn’t tough enough, how should you handle a situation where your lawn care customer pays you with a check and when you go to try and cash the check, it bounces? In such situations, you can get hit with a bounced check fee from the bank, that can amount to more than you make mowing the customers property. This situation may not happen often, but as we will see from this discussion in the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, by following a few simple steps you can have a plan in place to quickly deal with it and move forwards.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I have noticed, businesses used to charge check fees but now they have stopped. I don’t know why. Every now and then, I get lawn care customers that pay me and then I come to find the checks have bounced.¬† I have gotten over $1,000 in bounced checks and now I am realizing why other business owners say they won’t even accept checks because of this problem. The question I have though is since I charge on a monthly basis, should I consider not taking checks anymore? With most of my lawn care customers, I am mowing their property once a week an that comes out to at least $115 a month. The downside to not accepting checks is that not many people would want carry that much cash on hand every month. What do you suggest?”

Another lawn care business owner said “I accept checks and have never had one bounce in 14 years so I still take them and prefer them over credit cards due to the added fees the credit cards tack on. I do not accept cash, for me it becomes a major pain during an audit. I tend to follow the old saying, if it isn’t broken don’t try to fix it. If you find you are having some checks that bounce, pass those fees back to the customer and put on your invoices in bold letters $27.50 Service Fee for Bounced Checks.

A third lawn care business owner shared “all residential lawn care clients I have must sign a lawn care contract with me with specific guidelines. One of them is written as follows:

‘Checks returned for insufficient funds will be charged a minimum $50.00 service fee and may interrupt recurring services.’

The reason I charge such a high rate is because most banks will charge you if you try to cash or deposit a check and it bounces. The $50 is to offset that penalty and compensate me for the trouble.

This year I am trying something new. I am starting to experiment with monthly pre-billing for my new customers. Last year I charged most of my customers weekly. When I mowed, the customer had to pay me within 3 days. Some bad apples didn’t pay me though for up to 14 days. In such situations, my lawn care services were halted until the money was paid in full and those bad apples forced me to demand that they pay me monthly in advance. Only a select few, who are very loyal customers can have the option to pay at the end of the month.

I try to cover all my bases in my lawn care contract so they know from day 1 what our general service agreement is and it’s in writing because I know, my word against yours won’t hold up in court. If the customer refuses to sign a contract, I will let them find a kid down the street to cut their lawn who does a crappy job mowing. I have dealt with this many times before where the customer initially decides to go with some other cheap quality lawn care service only to fire them shortly after and hire me for more money for a higher quality service.”

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