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"We just don't have the money to pay you"

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DodgeBlizzard, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    I have a customer (small restaurant) that I called for lack of payment. A little background. This is the third year we've plowed for them. First year, great on payments. Second year, they were slow on making payments. This year I had it set up for late payments and service to stp after 30 days. That went for all of our customers. We got hit with small storm after storm for five weeks straight. Due to the amount of storms, we billed five invoices in about five weeks. I know it put a strain on peoples pocketbooks. But I have huge bills to pay, too. After talking to the restaurant manager, and hearing how the food vendor just showed up and wouldn't leave the supplies until they had payment in hand, I knew what was coming my way. I don't work for free and they were at 45 days past due on their 2nd invoice so we stopped service. Instead of making payment, I got wind of them calling other plow guys. Like us plow guys don't talk. So the manager of the restaurant can't do anything else for me and she says call the owner. I call him up and we chat. I said we're out X amount of dollars and we're 45 days old on the 2nd invoice. I said if money is tight, let me know and we can work it out and get back on track. I offered a solution of him giving me 7 post dated checks, dated once a week for the next seven weeks. I figured this was a win win situation. But he flat out told me during the winter, he doesn't have enough customers to cover his expenses. Hmmm, I guess that's why the food vendor is now on COD. That's great for the vendor but I don't have that leverage. The snow is already off the lot. The owner says he will see if he can make a payment this weekend but I'm not holding my breath. To date, we have invoices 51 days old, 38, 32, and 23 days out. If this was the only customer, it wouldn't be a big deal. But with winter the way it was, we're waiting on a pile and it's getting frustrating. My question is this.....at what point do YOU guys do something? 60 days? 90 days? It just blows my mind how this guy wouldn't call me and say money is tight. He doesn't try and work out a payment plan. He just calls other plow guys. Here's a thought....why not use your snow blower and do it yourself? That's what I would do if my bank account was empty. Yes guys, I've already had thoughts of pushing the snow back onto the lot. Yes, I thought about parking the plow truck against the door. But being realistic, how do you get people to pay when they flat out tell you they don't have the money and they don't take you up on the options of post dating checks? :gunsfiring:
     
  2. Bartlett_2

    Bartlett_2 Senior Member
    Messages: 226

    I hate it when that happens. Always towards the end of the season, too. If snows coming you can use that as leverage, but after the season's over, it gets harder to collect. I've always tried to keep after it until paid, which in that kind of a situation, can take some time. Or you could send it to collections, or sue, which can eat some of the settlement, but there's no guarantee you'll get your cash... I hope you are able to work it out with this account, good luck!
     
  3. deicepro

    deicepro PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,124

    I feel your pain and frustration. I patiently wait 30 days knowing I won't get paid until were closer to 60 days. After 61 days they get a face to face visit and a friendly reminder that I'm not feeling friendly anymore....
     
  4. Ford Guy

    Ford Guy Member
    Messages: 39

    I have the same issue with some of my customers, and have every year i've been in business, 11 years now. I've had pretty good results with sending a first notice letter for 30 days past due, then a 2nd notice after 60 days, then threatening collections after 90 days. Usually takes the 90 day letter to get them to pay, but i charge overdue interest. Some customers I will kind of give the benefit of the doubt as long as they're up front and honest with me, but others I suspend service.
     
  5. Joe D

    Joe D Senior Member
    Messages: 605

    At this point your out x amount. If they have been a good customer I would work with them. The post dating check thing is illegal in MA so I don't know if you can do that.
    Ask the guy for a realistic date on payment and keep plowing. Or drop them and small claims court.
     
  6. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Send a letter to him that you do not want a company business check ,you want a money order or cashiers check.But if he does snd you a business and it bounces make sure you file a police report for bad check writing ,courts don't stand for that.Or run to the bank it's drawn on and see if they will cash it even if they will charge you service fee to it
     
  7. brianbrich1

    brianbrich1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,084

    I had a management company about 4 years back try to mysteriously skip some invoicing when they sent checks out. Thank god for my wife catching it as i overlooked...It was for 2 invocies for a total of 800.00.... This was caught in march so for a month they denied even getting the invoices( which is hard to do with them being sent email the same as the others) Then for the next month it was check is in the mail.:dizzy:Then for another month my phone calls were deflected away by the secretary. So starting in June I said I will call there office everyday at 3:30 and leave them messages or what not till I got a check. This went on for a few months until in the mail one day was my check...In the end the amount was not worth the lawyer as it would use thatup...so I accepted it as a loss or eventually would get my money by calling nonstop...Needless to say neverplowed for them again..
     
  8. Shoreline

    Shoreline Member
    Messages: 59

    Eat at their restaurant and when they bring the bill, tell them you simply don't have the money. I know, you would have to eat a lot of food to come close to what your bill is but just maybe they would get the picture. Sorry about your luck.
     
  9. thelettuceman

    thelettuceman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,216

    Around here, plow guys are friendly competition. We tell each other who to avoid. That does not help you out in this situation. If you see someone else plowing, give him/her a heads up. I hope you get your money.
     
  10. seville009

    seville009 Senior Member
    from CNY
    Messages: 735

    You could barter, as one of the other posters mentioned, but probably they owe you alot more than you could eat before they close down from lack of business.

    Best thing to do is to sue them and obtain a judgement asap. They probably owe others if they owe you. It's likely that they have not been paying over payroll and sales taxes, and the government will step in to get what's left over before you do if you don't act quick.

    Bottom line is that he was willing to screw you, so there's no reason for you to be nice to him.
     
  11. NBI Lawn

    NBI Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,797

    I find if funny that lawn and plowing is overlooked by customers all the time...until you are an hour late. They just expect it to be done and then take their time to pay it if they pay it at all. I had a residential mowing customer that owed for two months, large balance owed. I called mulitple times and never got a good reason why it hadn't been paid. I mowed EVERY Friday at exactly 1:00pm sharp. After his bill was past due for 60 days I didn't do his lawn. By 4:00pm that day I had a Voicemail from him asking where I was!?!? He had company coming over that night and it was not acceptable that I hadn't been there yet :dizzy:.I had a check by 4:45pm and his lawn got serviced.
     
  12. doo-man

    doo-man Senior Member
    Messages: 387

    I think you should invite 30+ friends to a night out to eat there and when the bill comes hand her your invoice and say I think were covered !!!!!

    I would also try to stay there by the register and tell them you will take your payments with every customers bill that is paid. Might be a little wait but I bet you would get your money !!!

    I am currently going thru this with a few customers and I have about had it. I told them I would seek legal counsel if there is a resolution next week. They said there gonna look at the books and get me something !!!

    Well something is better than nothing !!
     
  13. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    I don't understand this mentallity. Their waitresses invest in a pair of black pants and a white shirt and they get paid every week....plus tips all day long. The cook invests an apron and he gets paid every week. I bring my truck, my plow, my salt, my shovels, my snow blower.....oh and I even pay people to have work done at THEIR PROPERTY. I'm the one that gets there an hour before anybody else shows up. And you say I should continue to work for them? Why?
     
  14. swtiih

    swtiih PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,179

    The guy states that winter is slow and money is tight. I would remember that for next year and have a plan of payment ahead of time or each time service is rendered.This of course is if you even retain him for next year.
    As for your current issue. I think you should talk with him and come up with a specific payment plan that will pay you off in lets say the next 2 months. Stop by every Saturday or whatever day for the payment. Give him a chance but don't let him miss a payment. In the meantime at least contact a lawyer to see what they suggest. Not sure how much is owed but I hope you can collect.
     
  15. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526


    I would need about 100 friends eating a nice dinner to say we were covered. But since I don't have a 100 friends that's not an option. But then again, if I said I'm buying Dinner, I just might find that many. haha
     
  16. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    You still serviced his lawn after that? I have a high pain tolerance level and not too many things get me worked up. But if I mowed for two months and don't get paid......then get a phone call saying it was unacceptable because I wasn't there on that day?.......I think I would have handled that differently then you did.
     
  17. Winterized

    Winterized Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    If the deadbeat is a person that you can go up to his house, do that a few times.

    Supper time... weekends when they have a house full of guests... you get the picture.
    Shame them out the money owed. Fine line to walk as to harassment I know, be careful.

    Friend pumps poop and that's how he get's paid when all else fails.
    Seems only accepting credit cards would be easier though.
     
  18. elite1msmith

    elite1msmith 2000 Club Member
    from chicago
    Messages: 2,762

    i would call him back, and work out a deal. Tell him its your policy for all accounts over 60 days to file law suit for lack of payment, file police report for theft of service, and to file a property lien on his property. Tell him you will gladly take small payments, even 100 bucks per week in exchange for him signing a payment aggreement admitting to owe the debit. have it be a stricked aggreement, and 1 missed or late payment will require a visit to court. Tell him look, i know times are tight, but you can either start paying me now and we can keep it friendly, or your going to have to pay your laywer to defend you, plus pay me.

    which ever he chooses, understand...if you owes you money, he owes others. your more than likely not going to get it in a lump sum, and if it goes to court, it will be 120 days at a min before you see an course of major action happen to the point of collecting..and thats if you push hard. i have seen these situations drag out for 16 months before the person got their end.

    and in the spirit of helping others, if your dirrect cost of servicing his lot is low (IE - you plow it so there is no labor, and you dont salt) then i would contiune to do so. it will just make your number bigger for the court room.

    you have to keep in mind that if they are really bad off, they may file for bell up, and in that case your the last person to get your get paid, and its unlikely, but if you start now you just may get the judge to award you payment sooner than that all takes place.
     
  19. NBI Lawn

    NBI Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,797

    That account is huge for me though. I really hadnt had a problem with the guy in the past so I stopped mowing as a reminder more less. I still have the account, this will be the 8 season.
     
  20. Stan

    Stan Senior Member
    Messages: 579

    I like that idea!!!!
    DO IT