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Invoicing / Late payers

Hi everyone,


This is my first post on Landscape Juice. I hope i'm posting in the right place, I didnt see an introduce yourself section. 


I set up my own small gardening company (soft landscaping/maintenance, domestic customers) last spring and it’s been going really well. I’m lucky, I love my job. However I’m getting increasingly cheesed off by customers that don’t pay and need chasing.


I’m just looking for some perspective on what is normal and whether I am overreacting... I tend to get itchy after 4 or 5 days, especially if it’s over £100 and I have had to fork out my own money for tipping fees.
What sort of timescales are reasonable / normal? I don’t specify on my invoices when payment is due by which I appreciate needs to change, should I start saying within 7 days? I just took it for granted that people would pay within a few days, like I do if I use trades people. Clearly I have been naive. 

I'm also considering one of those izettle card readers for one off jobs (my regulars are good at paying me straight away), thoughts? 

Thanks in advance

Sarah 

 

 

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Replies

  • PRO

    Why give them seven days? Job done, pay up. People forget when they think it can be left. Also consider how easy you make it for them to pay. An invoice with a click to pay link will help

    • PRO

      I find most people prefer to pay by bank transfer obviously they need your bank details but usually they ask , payment by cheque seems very rare today . 

      You could just add on your invoice '' your remittance would be appreciated within the next seven days ''  I use stickers i buy from a stationers for this purpose which also include some bright red now fourteen days overdue stickers but never had to use one fortunately .

      If it is payment by cheque only a tip i got from my bank manager when i opened a business account was to include a self addressed envelope with a first class stamp on it with your invoice, Its amazing how many people dont bother or forget to buy stamps .

  • PRO

    The ideal is for your clients to pay on the day (by whatever means) so, that needs to have been discussed at start of Contract/job.

    Your Contract / T&Cs (if used) should set payment expectations clearly, with your Invoice re-enforcing those terms (in a firm, business like manner) and clearly showing the remittance address and Bank Details.

    If prompt payment matters to you, always send 1st class pronto or drop Invoice at end of the visit, otherwise the Client can pick up a sub-liminal message that 'delays' are acceptable.

    If you email Invoices, then look at one of the payment gateways and embed a click to pay link (Go Cardless etc).

    I've seen numerous Invoices with requests for Bank payment, yet have no bank account details specificied.

  • PRO

    We specify 5 days for payment on our invoice just under the job total.  It says 'Payment should be made within 5 days to the following account' followed by the account details.  Tends to result in prompt payment in our experience.

  • PRO

    7 days on my invoices, some people seem to 'forget' or lose the email in their junk box, more than once as well.

    It is the time spent chasing it up that gets me. I've recently tried texting invoices to smartphones, which seems to get a more speedy response.

    One or two from last season were always late, this year I've got them on to standing order. It was easier than I expected. I've worked out the yearly cost, given them a bit of discount incentive and so far so good. 

    BACS is great for those that don't need chasing.

    Also have a card reader this year - I'm taking as many of the others as I can on the day, and it is really working. So cash and cheques are now pushed as less preferred payment methods, saves on bank visits.

     

     

  • PRO

    I have just been paid for a £180.00 job, materials and labour, completed half way through last November. I have invoiced with hard copies five times, as well as emailing them, the last three times I have hand delivered the printed invoices; and the last one was printed on red paper. 

    That’s probably 1.5 hours admin time for a half day job. With the other administration not counted in the time charged, a half day job became a full day job.

  • Thanks everyone for your replies.  

    I’ve given it some thought and decided to insist on cash on completion for jobs where I don’t know the customer. For times when this isn’t possible (like if they are out/at work) I’m going to use John’s idea of the stickers, saying payment within 5 days. I think 7 is maybe a bit too long.

    Scott, pleased the card reader is working for you. I may yet end up getting one. I agree that the chasing up is particularly annoying.  

    Andrew, 5 months wait for payment?? What a joke, jeez. At least you got it in the end!

    Thanks again everyone.

  • With regular garden maintenance, we invoice monthly and expect payment within 30 days -some of our customers pay by DD, but a few that aren't still require a little chasing.  Most are on annual 'contracts', so it's the same monthly amount, 12 months of the year, which makes the whole thing easier for us and the client. 

     

     

  • PRO

    Hi Sarah, if my customers haven't or don't want to pay with cash or by bank transfer I've a izettle card reader which cost £30 and a portable printer £100 second hand, which comes in handy when the customer has no mobile or computer I can just print the reciept straight away for them.

  • PRO

    For small jobs II carry two NCR copy books around with me , one to hand write quotes and one to hand write invoices, then ask for payment.

    I have a Paypal card reader connected to my mobile IPad with Bluetooth, though it could piggyback off my phone.

    So customers can pay by cash, cheque, card or bank transfer.

    The five month delayed payment was a small commercial job, I am getting very wary of doing any commercial work, where you are not dealing directly with the paymaster.

    Last Monday I broke my phone screen and I’m using a older phone that has storage issues, so it hasn’t got my banking app on it. Yesterday I accepted a cheque off a older lady customer who used to work in a bank, she was rather surprised when I said that I should be able to take a photo of the cheque to pay it in, without the bank ever physically handling the cheque itself. I plan to try paying it in when the SIM card arrives for the new phone I have bought arrives and I set the phone up.

    My window cleaner, who is also one of my customers, has just started using an app that will email invoices with the intention that people will pay by transfer. 

    A conversation I have had with my window cleaner and others, is that when doing repeat maintenance work such as mowing, some customers particularly commercial customers seem to think it is okay for you to do the job several times before you get your first payment.

    For example one guy had cut the grass weekly for a hotel eight times and the hotel considered that the payment had only just become for the first four; and that is a prompt payment by commercial standards.

    Buy to let landlords seem to think you should wait until at least next rent payment they receive from their tenants, it used to be standard practice with farmers to get paid when they wanted the next job done and if you mentioned you needed some money you would be told you could have it when the milk cheque arrived.

    Andy.

This reply was deleted.

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