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Would YOU work for a customer who you had to take to court in the past?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by DodgeBlizzard, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Like the title says....Would you work for a commercial customer that you plowed for in the past and owed you money? You had to file at the magistrates office and go to court. You got your money and a few years later, they call you back and want to use your services again. Would you? If no, how would you handle it? If yes, how would you go about it?
  2. beanz27

    beanz27 Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    I'd say yes if they pay IN FULL before season, and charge them double what you were before. Otherwise hell no.
  3. trustyrusty

    trustyrusty Senior Member
    Messages: 174

    Simple. Say I'll service your account on a cash only basis due to collection problems we've had with you in the past. Payment in full after every service. If it's too big of account to even risk one service either prepay or decline. Once you tell them they will likely be offended and find somebody else.
  4. NBI Lawn

    NBI Lawn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,797

    Sure but I would remind them of the payment issues and because of that arrangements would have to be made for prepayment.
  5. Antlerart06

    Antlerart06 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,437

    I say No thats a H**L NO
  6. joe2025

    joe2025 Member
    from NEPa
    Messages: 49

    It depends on what the account means to you and your company. Is it worth the possibly aggravation you might have to go through to get paid? If you want the account then I would say you need to negotiate payment terms that work for both you and the client. Is it under new management? Are you dealing with the same people that you dealt with in the past? If you take it on again you need to come to an agreement that works for you. I wouldn’t let payment go beyond 15 days after an event. They should understand such a requirement based on past payment history and since they called you they either appreciated your service or they are looking to screw you somehow because of the court issue. If they are professional I would tend to think they appreciated the work you’ve done for them in the past. If you can sleep at night with whatever agreement you make with them then why not take on the account again. It’s hard enough gaining new accounts in this business and it’s made even harder when you have to consider saying no to someone. Whatever you decide, good luck with it and I hope it works out for you.
  7. buildinon

    buildinon Senior Member
    Messages: 583

    You have alot to consider, and alot of ways you could go about it.
    Is it worth the touble?
    Will they pay?
    Will I have to sue them again?
    Is the amount gained worth the trouble the caused before?
    The list could go on....

    But then there is the options of how to take them back on...
    Work out a pre-payment schedule for services, as in a seasonal price or a prepaid amount for snows to come.
    Have a very, very tight contract with stating the payment terms, and if they are not met then you can walk away and you know the rest.
    As someone else stated, is some one else running the property for them? As I have had property managers switch on me but the same firm handle it still, but had two totally diffrent results from the company. Never hurts to just talk with them, and find out or explain the past.
    Just decline the offer in a very professional way, as in your schedule is full for this year, but you look forward to being able to assist them in the future.
  8. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,522

    The only way I would do it is if I was like my insurance company. I too would want to have the policy (in this case a contract) to be "fully earned", meaning that they would pay in full, prior to the season starting, or if it's per push, prior to each event. This would be, as my insurance policy is "non refundable". If not, the blade wouldn't drop on the property.

    Beware, though. If they refused to pay previously, and you took them to court to get your money, they might be vindictive in the sense that they're looking to file a claim on your insurance if they realize just how negatively it can affect you in the future.

    On second thoughts, I would tell them to go scratch. Thumbs Up
  9. Flawless440

    Flawless440 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,543

    Hell no, there is way to much work out there... It's not hard to land new contracts.. I have 9 customers i'm taking to court this year.. I wouldnt piss on any of them if they were on fire. I cant stand low lifes
  10. RLM

    RLM PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,270

    As others have said on a "pre-pay" type arrangement. Lots of businesses or people can get into financial issues at times, they paid you once things got better, which is a good sign of good faith. Do I would say yes, but it all would depend on how thugs went that you haven't said either. The one time I had to take someone to court..... They lied through their teeth in every statement. Even then it was an HOA , so the people are probably different now than they were back then, he'll the president that had signed the contract died before it went to court & he was the one that breached the contract.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  11. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    If I was in commercial plowing, my approach would be like this;

    1) If the management has significantly changed, it is worth at least the discussion.
    2) If the management is the same, conditional on THEM assuming FULL liability, and full seasons (minimum double your normal rate) payment IN ADVANCE. Contract should read to the effect that they accept that it is there responsibility when you plow over the owner's mercedes with him still in it, etc., and that they agree that your plowing service is provided on your whim. You do not guarantee speedy or quality service, or even showing up at all.
  12. Brian Young

    Brian Young PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,382

    Not unless they were under new management. People like that just dont change in my opinion. I saved a friend from making a mistake during fall clean up season, he asked us to suck up the leaf pile after he got them to the curb. Well it turned out to be a guy who decided to pay what he thought was his fair price. (not even half the bill was paid).
  13. scott3430

    scott3430 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,003

    I just don't think it's worth having a customer who you had to take to court to get paid.

    I have realized that these types of customers don't respect a persons business, when it's time to pay for the work.

    Not worth the stress. Move on.
  14. peteo1

    peteo1 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,658

    Jason makes a good point....

    If its commercial and under new management then yes but with a very one sided contract.

    If residential then I'd refer them to one of the hack job "contractors" that I don't like.
  15. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Well here's the details. It's kind of comical actually. I had a pretty good contract wrote up from day one. Everything was wrote up per push, with a separate line item of sidewalks, plowing and salting. I believe we worked for two years without a hitch. Halfway through the 3rd year, we got a lot of snow and they changed their trigger point from 2 inches, to keeping their lot wet at all times. I explained their invoices were going to increase greatly if we get a lot of snow. Well when they got their bill and the communication got quiet. I think multiple owners and lack of communication was a big part of the issue. But their is only one owner on my end, so I filed. So an hour before the court time, I'm driving by the place in question and I will never forget what I saw. I will set the scene. It's a pretty warm Spring sunny day. The snow is all melted and the season has been over. I happen to drive by their facility and I see a guy WITH A SHOVEL acting like he's shoveling snow from the sidewalks in front of the building. I did a double take. I just HAD to turn around to see if my eyes were deceiving me. When I came back around, he was now on the side of the building, continuing the shoveling motion. I'm laughing and thinking to myself, this is how this guy is preparing to go into court? Is he timing himself to see how long it's taking? But why? The prices were all set per push, not by the hour. I go to court and the guy re introduces himself as I have only ever met him during the initial meeting three years ago. He says he thinks this is all a mis-communication issue. I said well not on my end. He agreed and then introduced me to his daughter. He said she just started studying criminal law and thought it would be a good experience for her to see an actual case. Plus he's never been to court and wanted to experience it also. I didn't know what to think at this point. So court starts and I show the judge our contract and emails and bla bla bla. Then it's the defendants turn. He starts talking about my prices and how long it took him to shovel the sidewalks. The Judge saw right through it and maybe he even drove by and saw him, because he asked him when he did his time comparison, was it 5 degrees in the middle of a windy snow storm or was it a day like today with the sun on your back? I was laughing on the inside. He admitted it was a day like today. Then the judge looks at the contract and asked why the time mattered, when nothing on the contract was on an hourly rate? The owner said, but he's making x amount per hour just to do sidewalks. The judge said well you signed the contract and had no complaints for the first two years. We got a lot of snow and ice and I'm sure your bills were high, but it's no fault of the contractor as he did the work you hired him to do. He agreed and said I would get my check in two days. And I did. So fast forward to the present time. I was hesitant, but said I would consider servicing their lot, but it would come with different terms. I let them know I would only do it with a $1,000 dollar retainer fee. That was close to the amount of what they owed me from before. I would hold the retainer fee unitl May 1st. Their invoices would not be paid from that retainer. Invoices would be paid in full every 15 days or work stops until it is. They wanted skid loader work to move all current snow piles that the other guy placed in prime parking stalls. I gave a price of $75/hr for skid loader work. Hourly rate starts with loading and ends with unloading at our shop, with a 4 hour minimum. If they wanted snow hauled away, it would be $75 /hr. If their were any additional charges, such as dumping fees, they would be charged also. Out of the question terms? I didn't think so. Were they strict? You bet. Were my prices elevated? A little bit. Do you think I heard back from them?
  16. BC Handyman

    BC Handyman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,838

    I think you handled it great! Perfect in fact. Perfect terms!
  17. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,106

    They probably took your prices to the other guy who put snow in prime parking stalls and got a better deal:rolleyes:

    I would've put them on cash up front, no contract, then not shown up....let them gain "experience in court" when it's their dime. What did you charge them for your day in court? Or did they only pay for services rendered?
  18. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,593

    RUN AWAY!!!! Life is way too short to do business with assho$#s.
  19. theholycow

    theholycow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,180

    Disagree. While it would be sufficiently protective, it is unprofessional.


    You know that saying "don't stick your dick in crazy"? Well, don't drop your plow on crazy either. I would not want to go near that, just politely refuse and back away slowly.
  20. jasonv

    jasonv PlowSite.com Addict
    from kannada
    Messages: 1,114

    Protecting yourself is not unprofessional. Its SANE. When you're dealing with a potential hostile adversary, set terms that protect yourself against all potential problems. They brought it on themselves.