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View Full Version : Dealing with out of Province/State Customers


Ducke
06-13-2011, 06:31 PM
Just wanted to ask if anyone has any dealings doing lawn work for people that live out of Province/State.
I now have two customers that are from away. One is a regular weekly customer the other is a one off for a couple selling their home here in Nova Scotia and are now living in Alberta.
The first one I'm not to worried about because I know the Family. But the new one from out west I got through a Reality Agent who I have done work for.

Hedgemaster
06-13-2011, 08:43 PM
I'm still a noob but what I do is if it's a minor job (under $50) that isn't going to "hurt" if I get screwed, I do the job on the promise of being paid by mail.

If it's going to be more than $50, I request payment before doing the work.

I have a new client that I cut a rental property for locally and apparently he lives across the country in Denver, Colorado. I did his on the promise of payment, and he sent a check for the first cut and also included payment for the following month of cuts in advance. Nice.

Fisher
06-14-2011, 02:11 AM
I have at least two residential from out of state and they are R.E.O properties in which I've never even met the realtor that asked me to mow them. There was three of these but after the first one I was informed that there was someone else signed up to take care of this property and was never paid for it. I do have five other customers that have out of state numbers though I believe they live local.

In total (out of state or not) I have twelve property owners that I have never met with in person or even via a representative of theirs. I suppose with any one of these that If I din't get paid for initial service that it might would be hard for me to collect without the ability to prove that this person did indeed hire us.

Steve
06-14-2011, 11:26 AM
Would it be better to bill a month in advance for your out of state customers?

If they didn't pay, wouldn't it be a pain for them if you took them to court? If they have property in your area and you got a judgment against them, wouldn't that make it easier to collect?

but after the first one I was informed that there was someone else signed up to take care of this property and was never paid for it.

Did you do anything about this?

Dragger
06-14-2011, 12:07 PM
I have 5 customers that all live out of town/state that i do property for 1 is a house that is for sale and the others are weekend/vacation homes they all pay 30 days in advance except for the home that is for sale she pays 1 week in advance .

They Did not Question me when i told them i needed payment up front since they would not be there when i serviced there property .

Being a new business it would hurt me if i was into them for a months worth of work and they did not pay .

bruces
06-14-2011, 03:33 PM
I suggest taking time stamped pictures before and after ,at least untill you start seeing payments ,I have heard of others doing this,then the out of towner claims it wasnt cut ,or asks for pics after the fact .

Fisher
06-14-2011, 03:40 PM
Would it be better to bill a month in advance for your out of state customers?

If they didn't pay, wouldn't it be a pain for them if you took them to court? If they have property in your area and you got a judgment against them, wouldn't that make it easier to collect?



Did you do anything about this?

No, Steve I haven't done anything about this as it was just the one service that they got me for. I also never ask for any money up front from anyone, unless the total is over a certain amount and is usually a larger landscape project. As for regular maintenance customers I like to give everyone a chance and it has only failed me that one time (though I am still waiting on a check for $3k for work billed two weeks ago today that I handed the invoice to the property owner myself). I don't know if or how they even verify that I performed the work that I bill them for. I think that this helps build trust and I simply do not mow if the previous bill wasn't received on time before their next scheduled service whether it was a single weeks bill or a full month.

I also have a few that will mail back a check for 2-3 months of service to be credited to their account even when the bill was for just one service.

I have no doubt that at some point and time that I will take a hit for operating this way and hopefully it will just be a small one. I understand the view that If the customer can't pay a deposit to help cover materials especially if they ordered it c.o.d (stone, concrete, sand etc,.) Then they just may not be able to pay you after the work is done.

I know we've all heard on the news at some point about people getting paid or deposits for work that they never returned to perform. This is a big part of why I don't take money before work is done and on the occasions I do, I give proof of my bond, insurance and license information to the customer.

Fisher
06-14-2011, 03:47 PM
I suggest taking time stamped pictures before and after ,at least untill you start seeing payments ,I have heard of others doing this,then the out of towner claims it wasnt cut ,or asks for pics after the fact .


I take pictures as well. Though I rarely have ever been asked to show proof of work and really only on one r.e.o. property. I find pictures are also helpful for selling other services like showing them a dead shrub, much needed bed maintenance or that tree limb that somehow made it through the kitchen window. Pictures on initial service are good to have if you see something damaged or out of place you can show that it was that way before you even started work on the property.

On the other hand you may just show that you did indeed cut down their tulips that disappeared.

Tom53
06-14-2011, 03:52 PM
This might be a situation where a contract, or some type of written agreement was made in advance of the work. Maybe not a formal contract, but something in writing stating the person requesting the service is either in charge of that particular property or has authority to request such lawn maintenance.

It could also state that payment is required in advance, or at least 50% of the expected cost. That way you wouldnt be out anything, or at least much of anything.

With that written agreement it might be easier to take them to court if payment wasnt made.

Its easy enough to tell them that you believe they are an honest company or person requesting this service, but that you have also been screwed in the past by others who you felt were honest, and thats the reason for payment up front. Put it to them nicely and they really shouldnt have a problem with it, but if they are hesitant, tell them you will take the before and after pictures that are date stamped like mentioned above, and email them if they want. If they still hesitate about an up front payment, I would tell them to find someone else, as its not worth your time worrying about not being paid. Especially if it is a large job.

Ducke
06-14-2011, 08:13 PM
I do plan on taking lots of pictures as I need some before and after for the web site.
I have also kept all the e-mail we have sent and I got him to send me an e-mail listing the things he wants done that way he can't say I said or didn't say to any of the things I do.
The worst part about this is we are in the middle of a Postal Strike so posting checks is an iffy thing. I know I will get them I just don't know how long it will take to get them.

Dragger
06-15-2011, 05:29 PM
Pay Pal is your friend at times like this

it cost a few dollars to receive your money but no waiting on checks and no having to go to the bank to deposit them

SECTLANDSCAPING
06-15-2011, 07:36 PM
Pay Pal is your friend at times like this

it cost a few dollars to receive your money but no waiting on checks and no having to go to the bank to deposit them

I have a few that paid and a few that didnt. I heard the email was wrong. Never got the invoice. Those were the pictures you showed me last time. Waiting on a check to clear.

One of them was a regular cut his grass for about 6 months. Then he moved out of state said he wanted me to do biweekly. Invoiced him twice with paypal and mailed them to the old address. Never heard back. When I did call he was quick to point out other stuff that needed to be done but acted like it was all a misunderstanding.

I would say I'm about 8 out of 10 with out of staters. Now I require deposit if your not at the property when the service is complete.

Ducke
06-16-2011, 07:53 PM
I never thought of PayPal I have an account but have only ever used it to but things with. I am going to have to look into that.

Dragger
06-17-2011, 06:25 AM
I never thought of PayPal I have an account but have only ever used it to but things with. I am going to have to look into that.

I like it because its tied into my business bank account and i also have the PayPal credit card so i can use the money that is deposited into PayPal right away , normally i just save whats in there for gas for the truck