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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  • Its the nature of the beast i am afraid but i am always out no more about £100. Mostly when I visit at the start of next year they give me the cash owed. You could add it to the first invoice of the next season and this should get them to pay up. I also wont lose a whole years business for the sake of one forgoten payment. Complete non payers are a different matter and i treat them rather differently
    • hi graeme - agreed although annoying bad payers still pay albeit eventually, more so the non payers.but sometimes the bad payers turn out to be non payers. even had one new client end of the season who we visited 4 times up to october and to date not a penny 2 months later. wouldnt take risk turning up next year in hope of getting paid as could be making the damage even worse. but i know what you mean i wouldnt cut someone off for a £30 grass bill losing out the whole year, but does go back to my original question where do you cut it off as the debt creaps up and up

  • PRO
    We collect payment via cheque, bank transfer, standing order and direct debit.

    We use quick books online which produces a summary statement on each invoice and prompts customers who might miss a payment.

    The people who are willing to pay via electronic means are favoured as they are easier and quicker to reconcile in our accounts, plus cheques take a few days to clear and take time to fill out paying in slips etc.

    Going back to your question about non payers we have taken people to small claims court in the past (and had judgement awarded for us in every case). The process is very easy however most people will pay up before any case is ever sent to court.
    • hi nick

      i will have a look into quick books sounds ideal. dont get me wrong clients who pay by direct debit is great as runs simular, bacs not so simple  as i have to trawl my online banking screen checking off whos paid but in fairness dont take me long.i have a look at qb the now thanks

  • PRO
    I'm trying to put customers onto direct debits now. Previously, I've given weekly payers 4 weeks before I stop turning up, that usually gets a payment through fairly fast, for monthly visits, I don't go until the previous visit is cleared, again the threat of the garden not being looked after is often enough.
    • hi tom - think half the problem is i can carry out 3 visits within a month in summer then invoice at the end of each month so by the time i do that im ready to start the next visit and if no payment in i carry on and before i know it thats 6 visits and 2 invoices i think i will go down the easy books road and invoice per job and like you once an invoice is a month late stop services until paid, least this way its going to be 3 visits max compared to 6 over due

  • I get paid by cheque, direct debit and by BACS generally at the end of each day so I am very fortunate not to have to chase my customers. I always make it crystal clear that I expect payment at the end of each job and it works well for everyone. Also ensure you pay in the cheques promptly so that the customer know where he is financially as well
    • hi andrew - thanks

      do you ever get those who say they only want to pay cash but never in?

  • PRO
    We use xero which works much the same as Nick's system and it sends a reminder to clients after 7 days, found after setting that up I have all bills paid no later than the 10th of each month. Over the years I have had a 3 strikes and your out approach to bad payers whilst also being aware of setup the customer has in place, I.e. Some customers live overseas so payment can take a while sometimes........ you have to set the rules, it's your businesss.
    • thanks

      yes i have a 3 strike rule then advise to continue with services need to set up ongoing services by direct debit to continue, only had to apply this twice in my time tho. sadly the others who were late just kept racking up the debt until i cancelled awaiting payment to never see a penny. i will compare the xero programme too v quick books anything to make payments easier is a life safer

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