View Full Version : One down, three more to go

10-05-2006, 12:42 PM
This year for some reason has been horrible with non-payment or late payers from customers. *Must be something in the water this year.

I sent out a very stern letter to one lady, that was 4 months past due, and believe it or not I received the total amount due for the services provided, except that she didn't pay any late fees, which I am fine with. *At least she finally paid. *So after her I have three more left to go.

Case 1: $165 due back in April, stopped keeping track of late fes in August. *Have sent her numerous letters, late payment notices, threaten small claims, etc. *I am contacting credit bureau tomorrow *

Case 2: $27 due back in July, $87 with late fees. *Sent past due notices and left many phone messages. *Will be sending a stern letter in 2 weeks (after the current due date for the invoice that I just sent out with late fees is due)

Case 3: $26 due back in August, $66 with late fees. *I serviced her back in May, and she was a month behind payment then. *She ended up paying finally and then stopped service, but then reactivating service again in July. *I should not have took her back as a customer. *Will be sending a stern letter in 2 weeks (after the current due date for the invoice that I just sent out with late fees is due)

Case 4: $35 due, $115 with late fees. *CASE CLOSED; the lady mentioned above that paid me today after I sent a very stern letter

10-06-2006, 10:29 AM
Did these customers have any similarities besides being late? Like I mean did you get a bad feeling about them when they signed up?

10-06-2006, 12:37 PM
There was only one that I really had a "bad" feeling about, and she is Case 1.

The other two that are still past due I didn't get a bad feeling. *The one owns a cleaning business, while the other one works at a doctors office that I have been servicing for the past 7 years.

But something that is similar to these three that are still left, all of them were lawn application customers.

10-09-2006, 04:11 PM
Do you feel you have learned any new things from working with the customer base you had this year and if so how will you alter your business next year to counter act problem customer behavior?

10-09-2006, 06:42 PM
Well, I am thinking customers that did not come without a referral I am thinking about how the first service or month paid up front. I still haven't totally come to a conclusion exacting I am going to handle things after what happened this year. All of the past due customers, except one were fertilization. So I am thinking that perhaps all new customers must be a lawn maintenance customer in order to receive fertilization.

Any ideas would be great

10-11-2006, 05:42 PM
It is an interesting concept. If it works, that would be great.

Do you know of others that offer a similar plan?

10-11-2006, 07:33 PM
I do know some companies that only offer customers full service only, and no mow and go services.

10-12-2006, 03:01 PM
Very interesting, maybe it would be something to experiment with!

10-24-2006, 05:44 PM
Two down....two more to go. *I closed Case #3 above. *I got paid from another cusotmer today. *I expect payment from another (Case #2) one by the end of the week. *

The large account, I am pursuing that with the local credit bureau. *It will only cost me between 25 to 50% of the amount due that the customer owes

10-25-2006, 07:40 PM
What steps did you take to work with the local credit bureau? I am sure others reading this would find that interesting to know.

10-25-2006, 07:59 PM
More or less I provide them the information, the amount due, persons name, address, phone number, etc. Then the rest is up to them. They contact the person through mail and through phone. The customer then has one month to either pay the bill, prove that they paid it, or file a strong case of why they do have to pay it. If after that month they do not pay it, then it goes on their credit history. Even if they do pay it off eventually, that remains on their credit history for 7 YEARS. The only way that it can be removed before that 7 years is if the customer contacts me and asks me to remove it from their history through the bureau.

I figure that I should get paid pretty quickly

10-25-2006, 08:29 PM
What's your view on how this company has handled your debt recover so far? Was the process fairly simple to get started and would you recommend others to follow your steps if they have customers who own them money?

How much do you feel a customer would have to owe you in order for this to be a feasible choice?

10-25-2006, 08:33 PM
This will actually be the first time that I have ever used them, but I do know that the local attorney, that represents the city here uses them all the time. *The minimum amount that they go after is $50.

They charge anywhere from 25% to 50% of the total amount due that the customer owes. *The amount due depends on the actual amount, and the amount of time since the bill has been late. *For example, bills over $150 and over 180 days old they charge 25% fee. *Now bills $150 and over 365 days they charge 50%.

10-26-2006, 01:03 PM
Well, it's good to know about this as an option.

11-03-2006, 10:16 PM
A little update on this situation: Case 1 was sent to the credit bureau last week. I have made contact with Case 2, and she assured me approx 10 days ago that I was getting payment, yet still nothing. I just sent her a letter informing her that she has until Monday at 4pm to pay the total amount, or I am sending it to the credit service company. I already have the paperwork filled out just sitting on my desk waiting to be faxed there.

I guess not bad. I only have two past due accounts. I have heard a lot worse from other LCO's in the area.

11-04-2006, 08:48 AM
I have a question if the customer dose not pay by the the time you allow the can you keep add on late fees month after month?
The reason I ask is that a person that lives down the block from one of my customers stop me and ask if I wood cut there lawn and start a monthly contract. So I cut the lawn and got paid cash on the spot. We back a second time and cut again. Later in the week I went back and knock on the door and the son said that his dad was out of town. He will be back on Wed. So like a fool I cut a again and went back on Wed. The some gave me a false name and number? So I just learned a leason.

11-04-2006, 10:22 AM
When it comes to a very low bill, such as Case #2 in which her bill was only $27.00, I am usually pretty lenient. *For example, if they pay the bill by the end of the week, I may waive the late fees. *Or I may tell them, "Hey, another due date is coming up again, and I would hate to charge you another late fee, can you pay it in the next week, to avoid another late fee." *

Like I said, I usually try to work really hard with customers to get them to pay. *But ones that abuse my "friendly" bill collecting procedure feel the wrath. *

This is how I usually handle the situation when it comes to a customer though:

1. *The first invoice is sent out with a due date on it.

2. *If the customer is new, and no payment has been received 3 to 5 days past the due date then I will call them to remind them, and also send them the original bill again with a past due stamp on it.

3. *If after that time a week has passed, and still no payment, then I send out a late fee with the invoice. *They then have a certain amount of time to pay that late fee with the original service provided by a certain due date.

4. *If they still fail to do that, I usually no longer make phone calls, I start to send letters, and also don't hesitate to send out late fees 1 day past the due date.

5. Now recently, if the bill is over 3 months past due, I stop charging late fees, notify the customer that I am sending them to the credit bureau, and let the credit bureau handle it.

Also, if it is a new customer, and they are over a month late on their first bill, but after that month they still pay it, I will no longer provide services to them. *They are in a nutshell cut off. *

Also a word of advice, if a new customer asks for multiple services to be conducted, for example fertilizing and grass seeding. *First do the fertilization and send out the bill the next day. *Then wait before you provide the grass seeding to see whether they are going to pay the first bill. *It's better to test the waters first with a new customer, compared to going full tilt and losing your @ss on services that you provided to them.

11-04-2006, 02:09 PM
I didn't realize you had to pay to put someone into the credit bureau. We have 4 customers who are past due paying us. 1 owes us $95.00, the other owes us $75.00. They have owed it since July & August. These 2 moved and not sure where they are. We were thinking about going to our County office to put a lien on their property but we found out they were renters. So, we lost that money. The other 2 are small amounts ($25.00) owed since end of September. I guess I am too lenient. I haven't charged a late fee yet. I guess I need to though. Do you charge a flat fee or a percentage for the late fee? How often can you add it to their bill? I mean is there any law on adding late fees?

11-04-2006, 07:21 PM
I have spoken to approx 4 attorneys regarding late fees, and 50% of them say that you can only charge a set amount, such as a percentage, while others say that you can charge whatever you want for a late fee.

11-04-2006, 08:56 PM
So do you think if I charge let's say a $5.00 late fee this month and they don't pay by next month, I can add another $5.00 each month they don't pay?
We also have a couple of customers who have said, I 'll put the check in the mail tomorrow but they never do. It gets to be a hassle after awhile. I guess you can only be nice for so long.....

11-04-2006, 09:00 PM
Yup. Nothing wrong with that. I charge a $20 late fee every 30 days the bill is past due.