Performing lawn care services is one thing but trying to get some customers to pay after the fact is a whole other potentially difficult and time wasting task. The way you get paid and the smoothness of your operation in collecting payment has a lot to do with how you set up your billing policies. If you are laxidasical about it, you may find yourself chasing people around for money, months after you have performed the service. There are billing procedures you can implement that will free up a lot of that time wasted on chasing customers down. Here are some great insights from members of the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
One lawn care business owner wrote “so this year I am having this huge problem with late payments and no payments lately because of the economy. To deal with this situation, I came up with the idea to collect at the beginning of the month instead of the end but every lawn care customers I have has been telling me in one way or another ‘what if you don’t show up?’ Or that ‘it’s too complicated for me (for them) to keep track of.’ I would much rather get them to prepay for the month than have to deal with this late paying crap and having to chase everyone down.”
A second lawn care business owner wrote “I don’t use any contracts, but all my customers pay at beginning of month or per cut. In order for me to mow their lawn, they need to be there or have the check under the front door mat for per cut customers. If they don’t trust you for once a month payment then why are they using you for services. I’m up front about it with every new customer I sign up. I don’t have anyone owe me money. If they cancel before the month is up then they get their money back. They just have to trust me. Again if there is no trust then to me it’s not a customer I want.
If the customer won’t prepay, is there a way you can get a credit card # so you can charge their account if they don’t pay otherwise? I myself would love to offer that as an option but I would have the customer sign something to make that work. Seeing how credit card processing charges an additional fee that checks don’t, I’m not sure I want to offer this option any time in the near future. But that’s just me and maybe it would work for you.
I’ve only had 1 customer turn me down from the once a month or per cut payment so it has been worth it to me so far to keep things the way they are.”
A third business owner said “I’m having to deal wit a very similar issue as well. I’m about to send out my second batch of statements. The customers who are late I feel are trustworthy, just busy if you ask me. But still, I have a few hundred bucks just waiting to come in. It would be nice to upgrade some lawn care equipment, but I can’t until I get paid.
I understand it might be tricky keeping track of your customers. My advice is to just get Gopher Lawn Care Business Software. I got it last year for $100, and it’s great. You can keep track of everything, and use professional looking invoices, statements, receipts, etc.
I would say to at least invest in a bookkeeping program if not a billing and scheduling software package. It will save you a lot of time. I just bill each customer at the end of the month, but I think I might start billing at the beginning of the month, that way I get paid! It’s a lot easier to institute such billing policies when the customer is brand new. Then you can just tell ‘em you bill in advance, and expect payment on the first week of the month. Send out a statement about 2 weeks early, and just wait for money. Call them if you don’t get paid.
Don’t be afraid of the customer. If they are late, call them and just say you think they missed the due date of May 7th. Tell them you accept checks, or accept credit cards. As they say in the car business, ‘assume the sale.’ Assume that the customer is going to pay and wants to pay. It’s hard for people to say no, so just tell ‘em they can mail a check out to you, or you can pick it up under the door-mat.”
A fourth added “I always bill out a month in advance on my lawn care contracts. When they sign up for lawn care, they pay the day we sign the papers or my monthly payments when they start service they pay for 1 month from that point on. I won’t mow unless I get paid first. I have been screwed too many times before. I usually don’t have any problems if it rains and if we miss a week I just take a week off the next bill.”
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