Here is a great lesson about how dealing with non-paying customers can lead to total burnout. Sometimes an entrepreneur can start a business with grand aspirations, only to see it fall apart when things don’t go according to their plan. As we will see in this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, there are good ways and bad ways of handling customers. If you choose a bad way, you may find that you are setting yourself up for failure.
After a long time of ignoring these non paying customers’ calls, I feel it’s too awkward for me to call them back or answer their calls.
Recently I got rid of a customer who had promised to make his payments every month. I cut him off after the third promise and avoided him. He’s been calling me every day now. I have 7 voice messages saying, ‘the money isn’t a problem’ when it’s obvious that it is.
Another client had only paid for May, I cut him off in the middle of August. I never called to remind him, because I don’t like to do that. He has started to call recently over the past few days. He’s a nice guy, but for me to tell him he owes me money and getting myself into an awkward position is holding me back.
I’m not entirely sure if I should feel bad, or give in to these clients. Maybe I should just continue to ignore them.”
A second lawn care business owner said “you have to think of the phone as your friend not your enemy. If a bill is due on the 31st I give my lawn care customer until the 7th and if I have not heard from the customer, I give them a call. I say something like ‘hi, how are ya etc etc, just a friendly reminder that you are late on your payment.’ Then I wait 7 more days and give them another call where I say ‘hey I just wanted to check to see how things are going and remind you of the money you owe me for work done.’ Then I wait 7 more days and call and tell them they are cut off and at a 2% late payment charge will now be applied.
If nothing comes from that, I threaten small claims court. I have been very lucky so far as I have never had to go past the third call. I like the phone, I can deal with people on the phone. It’s the face to face that bugs me.”
A third added “I understand where your coming from. I had a bi-weekly mowing account that wanted various other jobs done. I agreed to do them when I came by to mow, to do it all in one trip. He was about 2 months late when I stopped servicing his property. I heard every excuse from ‘I didn’t get the invoice, phone call, or emails.’ He finally paid maybe 10 weeks late acting like he just got the bill. He stalled on paying for mowing and was wondering why I didn’t start the material jobs? I just told him I was no longer interested in providing services and kept getting phone calls about he needed his driveway done, house pressure washed, hedges trimmed.
I told him once it would be fine if he paid up front but he wasn’t interested in doing that. He wanted it all done on credit which he didn’t have with me any more.
I had another bi-weekly lawn care customer who wanted his yard tilled, weeded, seeded, and fertilized. I set up a schedule and every time I would mow, I would bill him for one of the services. Then after maybe two visits he wanted to know why I was charging this amount for this and why it was needed. He requested every single service not asking me once what would be best for his lawn. Then he wanted to nickle and dime the cost. I just said screw it and stopped coming by. I got calls from him, his wife, neighbor all trying to figure out why I wouldn’t keep mowing his property.”
A fourth added “I can understand removing someone from your mowing schedule and just dropping them from being tired of excuses for not paying, but to just not say anything? If you just call them and remind them that they have a bill do, you might get paid.
Sure, it makes sense to just stop playing games with someone who promises to pay a number of times. But if you want to settle things, you should call the lawn care customer back. Even if it goes to voice-mail, just say you can no longer service their property. If they ask why, you can be polite, and explain that you can’t continue to chase payment.”
Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.