Every customer will act and behave a little different from others. Many would seem content to just do what ever they want and pay when they feel like it. This, as we know, will be detrimental to your lawn care business. But how do you get everyone on the same page? You can accomplish this with a lawn care contract that spell out the terms of your agreement. When you don’t have one you can run into many problems as we saw in this discussion on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum when a member wrote “I had to drop one lawn care customer today
because I called a day before and left a message saying I would be mowing her yard the next day, she didn’t get it. I mowed her yard, no money was there. This wasn’t the first time this had happen with her. She left me a message later that day while I was cutting grass that “she told me not to come unless I talk to her. I should hear her voice before coming” etc. and I didn’t get paid for that cut until 7 days later. I was pissed. I never called her back and just stopped doing her yard.
I know dropping her without communicating is unprofessional on my part but I don’t want customers like her. I have a few other customers that travel a lot and hired me to do their yard because they don’t wanna be fined by their HOA. How do I deal with these customers and how do I standardize my billing to improve cash flow?”
One lawn care business owner wrote “I usually collect my money every 15 days for residential, 30 for commercial accounts. I charge 5% for a late fee if people are late after 15 days of the invoice.”
Another shared “I bill all of my customers on the last day of the month. Only two of them demand to pay me as I finish each cut the rest all mail me a check. It seems to be the best way to get paid, at least for this area.”
A third said “I have some clients that pay at the 1 st of the month. I do that as a probational period till I am sure that I can trust the client. I tell them this up front and they understand. All the others pay at the end of the month through an invoice system that mails out on the 1 st. They have a 15 day grace period till they are charged with a 20% late fee. In the years of doing this only 1 client had to pay the late fee.
If a client didn’t pay for the service and it was going past the 15 days I would inform the client that service has been stopped until payment is received.”
I thought this was a fascinating way to handle lawn care customers and I asked if this applies to all new customers? If not, how do you determine who will be on the probationary period?
He responded “all new lawn care clients are this way. I was burned once and I learned. No one has had an issue with this policy I have set up. I will allow clients to move to the end of the month payment after I have gained their trust. By that I mean they havenâ€™t missed a payment or sent in a payment late.
The only down fall is that I have to be on my toes to who pays at the beginning and who pays at the end of the month. My invoice system tracks this for me, so it only takes a second to separate them.”
A fourth member added “I always get paid in advance if it is a cash customer or an annual agreement, one month in advance. Then for the hard to get in touch with customer, no matter what you talked with them about when they hire you, find out what day are they home every month that you will be able to meet with them to arrange payment. They all are always home at a certain time of month for sure . Bill monthly getting one month in advance ( Using the gopher software makes it easy) then send out invoices monthly one month in advance. even cash customers collect a month in advance. If you are providing weekly cuts, collect for the month of cuts in advance. If bi-weekly, then just collect for 2 cuts.
You stay paid, if they don’t pay for the next month because you can’t get a hold of them, then don’t cut and you’re not out anything. They will usually call saying my yard has not been cut, your reply then should be, my bill has not been paid.”