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13 Levels To Collecting Payments from a Non-paying Client (Don't go to level 8!)

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What can you do when a client won't pay and won't talk to you?

Well, below you will find what you can do, and even what not to do.

In my experience, lawn care clients typically pay on time, and the few times they don’t pay immediately. They do get around to it.

But, what should you do when a lawn care client refuses to pay you? 

Worse still, what if they won’t even talk to you. 

Well, we probably shouldn’t have, but….

We asked lawn care pros how they handle such situations. And below you will find their conventional, and unconventional responses. 

WARNING! Our advice, DON'T GO PAST LEVEL 7!!!!

What to do when a lawn care client wont pay GreenPal

What To Do When A Client Can't or Won’t Pay

It’s simple, if your client won’t pay you willingly, sometimes all you can do is hope they do the right thing

While you may be able to repossess a landscaping project, under certain circumstances. 

You can’t uncut a lawn.  But you can use these strategies to secure payments.

Level 1: Communicate with Them

In most circumstances, a client will communicate with you about why their payment is delayed. 

And if this is the case, it's best just to have patience and work with them. After all, we have all had off days. 

If however, your client doesn’t pay you or make arrangements to do so. It’s time to evaluate whether you should pursue the issue further, or simply cut your losses and move on. 

Our Research Suggests: According to our research, 29% of lawn care providers simply opt to take the loss.

Level 2: Decide Whether To Let it Go or Escalate

There are 2 options at this point. You can either let it go, and chalk up the loss. Or you can escalate.

Some landscapers suggest its simply not worth the time required to collect payment, and it's best to move on.

Let it go it s not worth the time

Other lawn care providers went a bit further in saying that it really depends on how much money you need to collect.

Depends on how much money you are owed GreenPal

But only you can make that determination for yourself. If you do decide to persist on collecting the debt, and your client won't talk to you, here are a few ways to kick it up a notch. 

Kicking it up a notch

Kicking it up a Notch!

More than likely, if your client is still communicating with you, they do plan to pay you back. And keeping the communication going is one of the main things you can do. 

But, when they no longer answer your calls, texts or emails... What are you to do?

Well, below are a few ides from other lawn care pros.

Knock on the door and say wheres my money

Level 3: Knock On The Door

If they don't answer you on the phone or email, and you feel it's appropriate, some lawn care pros suggest to simply go knock on the door. 

It's a fairly obvious next step in collecting money if your client won't communicate with you on the phone any longer. 

Simply be sure to keep your attitude in check, you don't want to let your client to put you in a position where things escalate. 

Be forewarned, there may be some clients that its best not to approach in a direct fashion like this, but if you feel the need. Only you can make that chose. 

Leave a not on the porch

Level 4: Write a Note and Leave It on the Porch

The next step lawn care pros suggested to escalate your collection effort is to leave a note on the porch. 

You can leave a simple note, that does not have to be too wordy stating that you will send the debt to collections. Or you could also tell them you will be seeking a judgement in court. 

Or you could even mention a "Theft of Service statute" if your state has one. More on that in Level 6!

Hire an attorney to write a letter

Level 5: Have your Lawyer Write a Letter

If you still want to avoid taking your client to court, consider having your lawyer write a pushy letter. 

Many lawn care pros have reported that this is a successful approach that has worked for them. 

While it may be an option that is too price for some debts, it can be a good way to avoid court for larger collections. 

Time to take your cleint to court

Level 6: Time for Court

If despite your best efforts, you still can not collect payment, you may want to bring the matter into court. 

Here's the deal, this is a process, and it can take a long time. But some lawn care professionals will do it out of shear principle. 

Look, it's not a fun process, but if you can get a judgment, you can place a mechanics lien on their property. Which may not pay off immediately, but you will be able to collect your payment if they should sell their home in the future. 

If they owe you money put a lien on it

Look into your state's "Theft of Services" statutes:

This is crazy but in many states like North Carolina, and Georgia there are theft of service statutes. You may be able to use them in securing your payment.

With the exception of level 13, the rest of these levels are not recommended methods for collecting payments from your clients but were simply too funny not to include. 

Our Research Suggests: According to our research, 35% of lawn care providers take their clients who do not pay to court.

Turnip seeds in the lawn

Level 7: Turnip Up (Not recommended)

This one is a bit passive-aggressive, but funny at the same time. 

And to be honest I didn't know why this lawn care pro suggested turnip seeds. But apparently, they sprout quickly and can grow as much as 4 inches in a night. 

So they can be quite a pain to get rid of. And unlike dandelion seeds, they won't be likely to spread into the neighboring lawns of your client. 

Embaress them often and frequently

Level 8: Embarrassment (Not recommended)

A surprising number of lawn care professionals reported using embarrassment as a method to get your lawn care clients to pay. 

While it is probably not very effective, it can pass the time by if you get joy out of that type of thing. 

Our Research SuggestsAccording to our research, 29% of lawn care providers opt to get petty when their lawn care clients do not pay. 

Dump dirt on the driveway

Level 9: Gravel in Front of The Garage (Not recommended)

One lawn care provider suggested that dumping some dirt in front of the garage would be a good way to get back at your previous client.

This one is pretty aggressive, but it does have room for plausible deniability. The dirt could have simply been delivered to the wrong address afterall. 

Waterballons full of round up

Level 10: Roundup in The Lawn (Not recommended)

Again, these stratagies are not recommended, in fact I would strongly advice against it. 

But more than one lawn care pro suggested using water balloons full of Roundup. Which leads me to believe it's not a joke.

Crazier still, there were several different methods lawn care pros suggested for using Roundup. Such as this one:

Spray Pay me in thee lawnRelated Reading: The hidden dangers of Roundup exposure

Have some fun in the front lawn.

Level 11: Muding in the front yard (Not recommended)

One lawn care pro subtly hinted that they would go muding in the lawn and calling it even. 

Kidnapping a garden gnome

Level 12: Hold the Garden Gnome for Ransom (Not going to say not to)

Listen, if you can find a way to pull this one off, it might actually be pretty funny. 

I have a hard time believing even the homeowner would be upset with this one. Although I have been surprised more than one time.

A good gnome ransom note may be the key to securing your payment. Keep a credit card on file

Level 13: Avoiding Non-Payment to Begin With

Here's the deal, the best way to collect payment from a non-paying client to begin with. After all, collecting debt can be a huge hassle, and being good with handling money is simply a part of good business operations.

So your best bet is to avoid non-payment issues to begin with. Several lawn care pros suggested that they always keep a credit card on file, and they never have a non-payment issue. 

Another good idea is to always take 50% deposits in advance. This will at the very least ensure that you don't get stuck paying for material and resources that you installed.

Read more about dealing with non-paying clients

Credit card on file

What do the lawn care pros say?

According to our research, most lawn care providers opt to take their clients to court when they do not pay, with 35% of lawn care providers saying this is the route that they go.

On the other hand, 29% suggest that they simply opt to let it go and take the loss when a client does not pay. However, just as many said that they opt to get petty and use dirty tactics should their hard work go unrewarded.

Finally, 7% reported to us that they will send the debt off to collections and let them handle getting the money for them. 

Collecting Payments from Non-paying Clients When They Won't Communicate

Lawn care professionals share 13 strategies for collecting payments from clients who won't pay.

Key takeaways:

  • Communicate first. Try to work things out directly with the client.
  • Consider escalating. Options include:
    • Knocking on their door
    • Leaving a note
    • Having a lawyer send a letter
    • Taking them to court
  • Avoid unethical tactics. Don't damage their property or embarrass them.
  • Prevent non-payment. Require deposits or keep credit cards on file.

Most lawn care pros take clients to court for non-payment.

Look, there are a lot of methods you can use to collect payments from non-paying clients. 

Some are traditional, and typically that's all you need. Others are a bit unconventional, but they are options none the less. 

However, typically it's best to just chalk up the loss or put a lien on your clients property. The last thing you want to do is wind up in legal trouble all because your client wanted to stiff you.

Are you a vendor on GreenPal? Here is how to handle disputes with your clients like a pro!

If not you can sign up as a lawn care vendor here.

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