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View Full Version : Hey guys, I need your opinion... Yes that means everyone!


musician/lawnman
12-04-2008, 12:40 PM
I have a client that signed up for annual service with monthly billing on 3-1-08
He owns a large cornor lot with alot of plant beds, shrubs, & trees. Our agreement was $100/mo to include mowing, line trim, edge, blow off, & then trimming & pruning of all bushes & trees under 15' in height. Weed control was not included & the client handled that himself. In mid June 08' the client was going away for a couple months & asked me if he left out some spray & a sprayer could I spray the weeds for him? He said I could charge him extra if need be. I said no, I would spray for him that there would be no charge, it's not a big deal.

Bettween June 25th & Sept 25th in addition to our regular work I treated the beds with his supplied chemical & sprayer on 5 or 6 occasions. After using the gallon he had mixed I noticed it wasn't working very well, When I went to mix gallon #2 I found the label on the bottle of concentrate was not legible as it was left outside, I called the client by phone & explained that it wasn't working very well & that I didn't know the proper mix for this off-brand product, He wasn't sure what the mix rate was off hand either & said "I just mix some in". So I did, but it didn't kill anything. I up'd the doseage & still nada. So slowly the weeds overtake the beds despite the spray (Mind you I've called him about this already).
The client returns to town around the week of Oct. 1st. He comments then that the weeds are out of control & I said "I know, that's why I called you, It wasn't working!" So he spends time out in the yard & pulls all the weeds, there were times I was there mowing, trimming & pruning while he was outside & he said nothing to any effect that he was mad at me. Not here we are in December I call the client because he owes for the months of October & November ($200). He now feels that I am responsible for the fact that the weeds got out of hand & he's pissed. He want's to cancel our agreement on the lawn & bushes (because of weed control that wasn't included- I sprayed them for a couple months with his stuff as a courtesy). The kicker to this all is the client refuses to pay the $200 he rightfully owes for the services rendered (that were actually in our agreement!) during the months of Oct. & Nov. He states he spent 5 full days & his cousin helped for 3 days pulling the weeds & that he feels this labor more than eats up the $200 in question.
I feel like it was a courtesy to spray, I didn't charge him & on top of it he was NOTIFIED that it WASN'T WORKING.
He feels that despite the lack of charge, I agreed to "take care of the weeds" & had I not agreed he'd have found someone who would have to done it in his absence. But since I said I'd spray that it's all my responsibility & that I should have pulled all the weeds or had my men do it.

The bottom line to me seems that the spray didn't work for me, He says it works. I don't know how thick he mixes it because I still don't even know what the proper mix is!? The label was destroyed, & when I called he didn't know either? It was not a product I am failiar with. ( I don't even carry weed killer as I am not certified, though legally- if a customer supplies both chemical & application equipment it falls under a "yardman exemption" & I can apply weed killer that way). I suppose I could have tracked down who sells that crap, got in the car, gone to the place & read a label on their bottle but hell?..... this was a courtesy thing after all.

What is you're honest opinion on this one guys? Am I wrong to want to get paid here? If I am fine, tell me. Either way after I get some responses here I plan to print the whole thread & send it to my now former client.
Thanks for taking the time to read & respond. -Chuck

Steve
12-04-2008, 01:27 PM
WOW! This is one heck of a situation. I will file this one under, you can't make everyone happy all the time. Who knows what is going on. Maybe he is having other issues in his life.

If it were me, I would still want to be paid. The upside is you probably can get the money, the downside is he may bad mouth you.

I think my next step would be to use the collection letter (http://gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=7627&page=2) and see if that works, if not take him to small claims court.

What is your thought on this?

ritchiem
12-04-2008, 01:59 PM
Rough...

Putting myself in his shoes I can understand his frustration. He goes away and thinks that the weeding is being taken care of. Even though you called he still thinks you have it under control.

Personally I don't think you should have done it probono...you should have charged him for the weed control...at least your time. Basically if you charged for the service and noticed that the chem apps were not working you would have manually pulled them because you were in charge of weeding the beds and you wouldn't be in this situation. Did you ask him to scrap the chem apps and recommend a manual control?

However, he has no right (nor a legal leg to stand on) to withhold payments because of a verbal agreement on a different service. You had a signed agreement for services that were completed on time and at a high quality standard. That he owes for....no questions. The crappy and good thing is that it is only $200.00. If you take him to small claims you eat up all that money because your time is worth more. I would send him a collections letter stating that you would like to clear up this bill, and it is unfortunate that you can no longer work together.

Phil R
12-04-2008, 02:02 PM
Dude. I say 'dude' with that tone we use when we really are....pissed.

You know; "D-U-D-E" That way. :)

I get the same kinda crap over and over (if you recall, I am a window cleaner...soon to be lawn guy). The economy causes some folks to loose their minds.

The idea, to me, is make a profit by working hard and being fair/honest. This is a tough call for some. Not me.

They get two calls, one letter then a certified letter then they get a lien. End of story.

The certified letter states that "I have tried to bend and flex to your side. I am done. You have 3 days before I carry the paperwork to court and file a lien. You asked for the work I am now asking for the money. You have until Friday, at noon, to reply via certified letter holding a cashiers check."

This often works. But, it also looses the client. which ...you have lost anyway..

I have seen more bankruptcy papers this year than all the other yeasr combined.

Mike's LawnCare Landscape
12-04-2008, 02:20 PM
Yea give him the letter .
If he hase any thing to say then charge him for your time for applyiong His weed killer. If he thinks should not pay you now /now you sould think that he should pay you for the extra hrs that you but in !!

Steve
12-04-2008, 03:00 PM
They get two calls, one letter then a certified letter then they get a lien. End of story.

Phil what is your view on why you go with the lien versus a small claims court where you can get a judgment for the money owed?

musician/lawnman
12-04-2008, 04:36 PM
The whole situation is frustrating as hell I can tell you that. The part that makes it suck even more is that during the last month (which he is refusing to pay for) I spent hours & hours there doing a full fall clean up & trimmed everything on the property! (which is included in the monthly rate but still that's assuming that I'll get paid) So Everything is freshly trimmed for the winter & so he's gonna try to gig me for October, & November on top of cancelling a $100/month agreement going into the slower months..... auugh!
I bet he'll probably let the place go completely neglected til march & then hire some other poor schmuck for next season.

Steve
12-04-2008, 05:14 PM
I feel for you in this situation. I think something that's important to keep in mind is not to take this as a personal attack on you. His behavior seems strange to me and you just never know what is going on in his life. Did he lose money in the stock market. Is he having trouble making ends meet. Is he afraid of losing his house.

We just don't know what is going on with him but we know he has a contract with you and he owes you money. So, if he sees that you are not going away and he is going to have to deal with all of this, he might just decide to pay you for what you have done up to this point and move on with his life.

Let us know what you decide to do.

Little's
12-04-2008, 06:36 PM
So your regular agreement is for mowing etc, which you did, right? Make it clear that he owes you for the work performed, and then have him send you a bill for the weed pulling he had to do! haha

Just kidding, chalk it up as a lesson learned and go find another customer to fill his spot.

StartALawnCareBusiness
12-04-2008, 09:50 PM
Chuck:

It sounds like you are at one of those crossroads where you wonder if it is worth attempting to salvage this customer or just dump him and spend your time gaining other clients.

Here is what I have done in situations like this. Tell him your position once more just like you told us above and let him know that you truly feel like you handled the application of the chemical to the best of your ability. Let him know that you continued to maintain his lawn according to your contract and that you feel you should be paid in full for the duration of the contract.

Now comes the hard part. Once you feel he has a balanced viewpoint on the situation, trust him with control of the outcome. Ask his ideas for an equitable solution.

I think he is just frustrated...maybe at the weeds or maybe at something else in his life, like Steve said. He just wants to blame someone. Maybe he left the lid off the chemical and it rained and diluted the solution. Maybe it was old or never worked in the first place and he's embarrassed to admit it.

Anyway, lay it out to him and ask him what he thinks is truly fair to both parties. My bet is that you will be able to salvage this business relationship.

Good luck:

Keith

musician/lawnman
12-13-2008, 10:37 PM
I sent him a certified, return recipt letter restating my position & requesting payment one more time prior to proceeding with legal action & the lein on his home. He sent one back restating his only now he has fabricated some imaginary 2nd phone call when supposedly I told him "no worries, the weeds were under control" into his side of the story. He goes on to state that he'll counter sue for his labor time should I take his dumb righteous *** to court.

This guy is such a jerk I'm taking it all the way just on principal.

Steve
12-13-2008, 10:41 PM
Well, I would say consider your options and if you decide to go through with it, then keep us posted on how it goes step by step. It will help everyone who finds themselves in this situation.

Little's
12-13-2008, 11:51 PM
Right on Chuck. If your gonna do it, take it all the way!!!!

Phil R
12-14-2008, 06:03 PM
He can not counter sue in small claims.

Lien the property. Cost ya about 70 bucks for the year.

YOU have the leverage. Call me next week.

quickcleanlawn
12-14-2008, 06:37 PM
That sh** sucks Chuck. Take his *** to court.
remember that deal I was talking about a few weeks ago, yea there trying to beat me out of 3600 bucks.they keep giving me some bull, saying they havent gotten paid, and I'll get paid when they get paid. After fighting and arguing all last week there promising me to be paid in full tomorow, if not we will be going to court too.
Good luck chuck.
P.S.
Dont be like me and let that sh** spoil your Christmas.

Steve
12-14-2008, 07:32 PM
He can not counter sue in small claims.

Lien the property. Cost ya about 70 bucks for the year.

YOU have the leverage. Call me next week.

Phil,

What is your view on the pros and cons to putting a lien on a property vs going to small claims court?

musician/lawnman
12-14-2008, 08:34 PM
I was told it only costs $10 to file the lien. I checked at the local county building.

Steve
12-14-2008, 09:49 PM
I was told it only costs $10 to file the lien. I checked at the local county building.

But as far as I know, you only get paid from a lien, when the property is sold. Is that correct?

musician/lawnman
12-15-2008, 06:31 AM
Yeah, the lein would have to be satisfied prior to any sale of, or refinancing of the house, but if the guy just owned the home & keeps it for 20 years you'd better not be holding your breath. That's why small claims court is better in this case, you get an immediate judgement, If you win they are court ordered to pay, failing to do so is breaking the law.

ritchiem
12-15-2008, 10:02 AM
Good luck with it Chuck.

barry
12-23-2008, 08:48 AM
That is why we need a dead beat list.

barry lawns n more

Phil R
12-24-2008, 01:55 PM
Sorry for the late reply.

winning in court only leads to a judgment. No way to collect. However, the difference is that you often get the chance in court but before YOUR turn...and under the lawyers/judges advice...to settle before court. if not, Mr Judge man gets pissed when the other guy loses.

Liens are finiky here. BUT they work IF you keep em up to date.

You have the right to push this as far as you want to. Also, these things can be announced in the paper. That helps deflect any bad mouthing done by him about you. It also sets folks up to know you are a serious business man.

But...then there is the chance he will win. But..he wins if you do nothing.

You will run out of time if you do not act. He may sell the property or worse...foreclose. whatever you decide...do it next week bro. It sounds from over here like he is is some $ strain . Do it before the bank does.

This crap gets old...but it gets worse when the economy hits the flusher.

I wish you the best man.

Oh...I got your message the other day.....Just been busy with my Dad. he is better now. I will speak w/you after the holidays.

Steve
12-26-2008, 01:56 PM
You have the right to push this as far as you want to. Also, these things can be announced in the paper.

What do you suggest be published in the paper?

landonkade
12-26-2008, 03:45 PM
So how is the small claims going chuck

I am in the same situation with a guy i did landscaping for i told him the price for the work and was ok with the price. After i finished I gave the guy the bill($600) and he was like o lord how am i going to pay for this. So what i did was i told him $200 a month for 3 months. He said ok that works out better. First month came NOTHING, Second month came NOTHING, third month came NOTHING, i also called him between those months to remind him he said its in the mail, NEVER seen nothing. The fifth month i went to a lawyer to see if the lawyer can send him a letter, he said yes, letter was sent and heard NOTHING. So December of 2008 will be 6 months now going on this. So i sent him a small claims letter and told him to respond in five days or i was going to take action. Guess what, NOTHING YET.

So chuck you might be a step ahead of me on doing the small claims so tell me how that goes for you.

The bad thind is, is that he is a PREACHER............

Steve
12-26-2008, 05:56 PM
Yikes! Matt keep us posted.

tuscangardens
01-07-2009, 03:00 PM
whats up everyone.



you guys are funny,

but i guess you gotta get your money...one way or another....:cool:

landonkade
01-07-2009, 08:58 PM
whats up everyone.



you guys are funny,

but i guess you gotta get your money...one way or another....:cool:

tuscangardens
you will probaly will come across that situation one day

tuscangardens
01-08-2009, 09:31 AM
Ive been through it more times than you would think....the property management company i owned, i was in court for alot of diffrent stuff, including collection of $$$$:eek:


and landokade....your link does not work to your website.:)

Steve
01-08-2009, 11:02 AM
Ive been through it more times than you would think....the property management company i owned, i was in court for alot of diffrent stuff, including collection of $$$

What advice do you have for newer lawn care business owners who find themselves in this situation? How should they handle trying to get a customer to pay?

tuscangardens
01-09-2009, 07:35 AM
First i wouldtry to call the customer and settle out of court

or, you could hire a "situation resolver", you can find these guys usually at a red cross or other free organization in your area, they help you out so you dont need to go to court.

Id also try to type up a legal form that states you are going to be taking them to court, some people get scared and pay right away

or the final stage spend the $100.00 and take them to court....if you have a contract, and did the job(s) right, then there will be no problems getting your $ plus the late fees, plus the 100 you spent on court.

i would never set up payment arrangements, come on....thats just begging not to be paid..
if you do , make sure EVERYTHING is in writing, every detail...then when they dont pay, take them to the court with documents.


ive never had to go as far as to put a lien on someone for landscaping services...:D

never back down in court, if you lose, which you prob wont, appeal again. most of the time the dead beats know they are in the wrong and dont show up to court anyways.

now, if you win in court, and the people still havent paid, you go to the clerk of judicial records in your town, where you could actually hire a sherriff to go to the house with you, (another $100.00), and TAKE STUFF FROM THEIR HOUSE WORTH THE BALANCE OWED!!

ive done it before and it seems to be the only way to actually collect on some people evern though they get preyyt mad...but hey....pay your bills....we all do.

I hope i helped a little

this is how it is done in PA, your state may differ.

WE DO NEED A DEAD BEAT LIST!!!
I ACTUALLY THINK THAT THEY HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THAT IN THE COURTHOUSE!!!!

SEE YA...PAUL

tedmain
01-03-2011, 07:43 AM
In my 16 years in this business, I have learned that no two things in Landscape and Lawncare are ever alike except...the cheapskate. Every customer I have had that wanted to skimp on this and that and "they will do some themselves" or wants to pick apart a lawn care plan, has been difficult or downright impossible to please, and 50% chance they wont pay and you'll have to take them to court. This is why contracts are important as well as getting a good feel for the kind of person they are before any service is provided! In the begining I would break my back trying to please them thinking that "If I can please this guy, everyone will know how great of a service I provide"...Boy was I wrong! And that "never quit, never say no" attitude almost cost me my business in the begining. You have to value your service and yourself, if they dont want to pay the price, say goodbye. Of course listen to their needs and explain that maybe you could trim every other week or something very little like that, but the ones that act like you are overcharging...RUN AWAY. Most other companies would agree with me in that for the most part, the ones that pay up front, pay full price, are not only easier to do, but the business relationship is more friendly and little "favors" can be given more to the customer.

Steve
01-05-2011, 06:32 PM
Ted you bring up a lot of great points.

In the begining I would break my back trying to please them thinking that "If I can please this guy, everyone will know how great of a service I provide"...Boy was I wrong! And that "never quit, never say no" attitude almost cost me my business in the begining.

Can you tell us where was the breaking point for this method of operating? How did it almost cost you your business and how did you change it? How did you realize that it was even a problem?

I think many newer businesses never even catch this. They are so focused on people pleasing, they put everyone else's needs in front of their own. Even when it comes to profiting.