It seems I hear more & more business owners (not just lawn service companies) complaining about slow paying clients. I even read an article the other day about one of the risks of doing commercial lawn maintenance is the slow payers and the possibility that you may not get paid at all. I don't know why the trend is going this way but I'm sure the economy slowing down has something to do with it. But there just seems to be a lack of pride with a small percentage of people who really don't think it matters if they pay you or not. I have been very fortunate to have 99% of my clients pay on time and less than 1% beat me out of any money. There is always a risk when you don't get paid each time out to cut someone's lawn but when you require that you obviously miss out on some business because it is inconvenient to leave a check "under the mat" or prepay and frankly some folks need a little extra time to pay. I just set a limit of how far I will go before cutting off the service. It is hard to do that because if you stop service and then they pay right after you have messed up your route and if you stop service and they finally pay you after 2 weeks you don't want to go back and cut an overgrown lawn for the regular price when it was their fault you could not keep it neat and on schedule.
There is one outfit in Texas that required a credit card on file and at the same time each month would run it through and get paid. That is a great way to do it and the client is more likely to not worry about it & keep you on longer since you have made it easy to pay. There is another company in my area that won't service the lawn if a payment is left for them each visit. That is a safe way to operate but there is a percentage of lost business because of it also. Contracts are good if can swing it. No one uses them in my area much. However I may start using a simple agreement that does not lock them into the service but just acknowledges there is an agreement for service so if there is ever a need to collect a debt from them you have something to work with. Have a great week!