What Frequency Works Best for Billing Your Lawn Care Customers?
There are many ways to bill your lawn care customers. Annually, quarterly, monthly, bi-weekly or even weekly. What about simply billing the customer only after you've performed services for them? The right billing method can help you obtain customers and retain customers so you need to make sure you have a good billing method in place for you lawn care business.
For every single business owner billing methods will be different. Don't be so stuck in your "billing method ways" that you aren't willing to make any exceptions for a few customers. For instance, if your current billing method always charges people on the 1st of each month but you have a customer who would like to pay on the 5th because that is when they receive their paycheck, be flexible and allow the customer to pay on their terms when they have special circumstances.
Being flexible with payments isn't for every customer. If you aren't receiving your payments on time and it is a recurring thing, then you need to give a warning to the customer and if things don't improve stop servicing the lawn. You can't work for free. Let your competition work for free if they want to.
Now all that being said, the best billing method I have seen work for our company is the monthly billing service. The monthly billing service allows you to catch up on jobs if there has been inclement weather and gives customers a consistent bill to pay every single month that rarely changes. It turns into a simple monthly expense instead of a big payment at the end of the year or a weekly payment thatthey have to write another check for.
When customers are simply billed once a month they don't see 4 payments for the month (which seems like a lot of money) and they don't see big payments coming out of their checking account if they were billed quarterly or yearly. Bottom line is, the perception to the customer is that lawn care services are affordable, instead of looking at them as draining their bank account. It also allows customers to put the expense into their monthly budget.
The best billing method is to also bill your customers at the beginning of the month before their lawn is serviced. If the check bounces or card is declined, then payment must be received before you will perform any services for the customer. It's also great for cash flow to charge customers up front for the services instead of waiting until the end of the month. Performing 4 weeks of work, just to have the card decline and no payment received will put you out of business really fast.
The most frequently asked question that I receive when telling customers that I bill up front for services is: What if the weather is bad and you can't service my lawn?
I'm always straight forward and honest with these customers. I tell them that they are receiving the full month's service no matter how many times I service the lawn. If I can't service the lawn because of weather I'll let the customer know that when I come to service the lawn the next week I have to spend twice as much time on the lawn because of the extra growth. I have to empty the bag twice as much and spend the exact same amount of time servicing the lawn for the month even if I only service it 3 times instead of 4.
For the times I don't service the lawn because it has been extremely dry, I explain to the customer that this rarely happens and when it does I do not service the yard but I also don't charge any extra for a month with 5 weeks in it and when I service the hard 5 times that month they still pay the same amount. I explain to the customer that a 5 week month is far more common than an extremely dry month so they get the benefit of paying less.
These are the methods that have worked the best for me in my lawn care business but every single business is different. Find your groove when it comes to billing. Stay consistent, flexible, try to get your money up front and never work for free!