collecting payments for regular domestic maintenance


just looking to see how others work out payment terms for any regular domestic maintenance work, i seam to always end a season with a fresh collection of  bad payers and end up writing off as a loss as you can only call , post reminders or turn up for payment so many times before its starts costing you more in time etc. ive yet to find a debt collection service who will chase £60 here and there but to me i end up with maybe 6-10 non payers end of year at various amounts ,i like to keep my service friendly so never take the hard approach for being alittle late, as not forgetting most of my clients are busy people and often simply forget and soon enough pay when reminded. my problem is deciding on a cut off point,as sometimes you carry onto month two and then before you know it there is two months due and next i know im chasing payment which i never see. i do offer direct debit as a payment method where i offer the ability to spread years costs over 12 monthly payments, although majority have opted to be invoiced for works for the month on the final visit of each and every month paying by bacs, and a few who claim to never be near a bank so cant pay in direct to bank or dont do online and has to be cash ( but never in ) which leads to me racking up 3 months visits without payment. way i see it i have kept my side of the deal turning up carrying out the work, so not alot to ask to be paid and on time surely? my thinkings are that for current season ahead to reduce my time & costs spent dealing with  bad/non payersi make same rule over the board, if you opt out of paying by direct debit, services will be offered on a month to month basis with all invoices to be settled no later than the final working day of each month and your responsibility to settle,  no further work will be carried out until current invoice paid in full.. as i say dont want to end up with deficit every year but same time dont want to come over too strong either, as largest majority pay me with no problems but even your most regular client can turn a bad payer at any time.. any thoughts on this appreciated

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            • PRO

              think that would be pushing it lol, i settle for payment soon after or atleast anytime in some cases ha

  • PRO
    Hi Matt
    I invoice every Saturday morning, the invoices are all issues on a " payment due immediately" basis, no 30 days, if after a week I haven't received payment, or a valid excuse, service is withdrawn....or at least that threat is issued.
    It seems to work for me to date.
    • PRO

      think im just going to toughen up a tad, from here on its online invoicing  after each job, but if 2 invoices become overdue services will stop until paid in full. given reminders are sent there will be no excuses, and if they live a hectic life stlye they should set up direct debit to make matters easier. plus reduces the impact on me if become non payers as in past ive gone up to 2 months before cutting off and that can be 6 visits in some cases where as if invoicing after each visit and cut off after 2 non payments that will become only 2 visits ive lost payment for.

  • We give all customer a copy of the quote with terms and conditions printed on the bottom that clearly state that should two consecutive payments be missed the service will be suspended until payment is received in full.
  • PRO

    Suppose you stop cutting due to non payment and then go back 2 or 3 weeks later to resume after payments made,you're then faced with a bigger task.Do you then charge extra for that?

    I think we have to ask ourselves,what is it about me or my company that is consistently attracting poor payers?

    • We have never had a non payer Steven, at least not a big enough one to worry about most if they miss on payment pay double the next time.

      But in the same breath a lot of our maintenance plans are on Standing order so they pay on the 1st of each month (in advance) for 2 visits that month
      • PRO

        i only have around 15 out of 100 on direct debit monthly plan, i think im going to make more incentives to attract clients along this line as in long run its easier on my part. 

    • PRO

      we have it in our terms that if there is a break in frequency due to cancelation/suspension of services then additional charges will apply. in other words regular rate is only applied for all consecutive visits as stated with no breaks.i no longer do monthly cuts so all grass cutting clients are on same schedule 2 per month low season 3 per month summer months.

      • Our standing order customers all get 2 visit a month, their Standing order is paid at the beginning of the month so they are paid in advance so it takes out the hassle of chasing payments
  • I would never wait that long for payment. I have learned my lessons and I will bounce any customers off that do not meet my payment terms. I definitely won't be waiting a whole month and continue going, and ending up with 3 months deficit. They are tax deductible but that wont put food on my table.

    All my customers have to pay me by BACS. Its 3 days from date of invoice sent. I do have some flexibility if customer is on holiday etc. My invoice also clearly states that i send them to debt collectors which will impact their credit rating.

    I have no cash or cheque customers. Too much hassle.

    If a customer starts telling me about the issues they are having paying on the internet then we cant work together. I have even shown a few of my oldies how to use online banking and they love it. 

    One offs or big jobs they have to prepay. I send them all of the invoice or a part depending on job size etc and expect to be paid. If no payment, then no visit. Especially those who never seem to be there or landlords living far away or in another country. 

    I have my bills to pay and they wont wait on me so I expect the same from my customers. If they cannot afford a gardener then dont have one. I have become pretty hardnosed. This year I have had no non-payers. Last year a customer still owes me £50. But I know its a waste of time chasing her as she is bloody mad.

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