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  • Property managers...

    Right now one of my biggest customers is a property manager. When we first met, he liked my truck, service, the whole enchilada. I told him I get paid upon completion of the job, no "billing". After doing an emergency repair on one of his properties, he let me know he had to make a special trip to the accountants office to get a check; they usually do bills twice a month. In an effort to get more business from him, I told him that I could deal with that to make his life easier. At first, the payments came in a fast timely manner. Then, he started using my service a lot. Great, right? That's when things changed. One of his properties is an older condo on the beach. He gets a call from one or more tenants claiming there's water all over the floor, carpet's soaked, not sure where it's coming from. He call's me, I go there and find the problem. CI stacks and waste pipes are breaking open, 20+ year old heaters are going, 18 year old dishwashers leaking, etc. If the problem turns out to be a main stack, it winds up being the associations bill. Sometimes it pushes over a month, but I do get paid for it. If it's determined to be an owner's bill, I give him(the property manager) the bill and he passes it on to the owner. This is where it gets ugly. Guess what? Sometimes the owners are slow to pay or disagree that they should have to pay. I don't want to (and feel I shouldn't have to) go after the owners for the money as they were not the ones who called me. On one bill that a woman refused to pay last year, I pressed him about it, and he said, "I don't know what to tell you Rich, I do work for these people.." That really pissed me off. Came to find out, he rented this particular woman's unit out for her, so he really did work for her directly. I got paid from her after 8 months and threatening a collection agency. Last summer, I sent what I thought was a professional letter reminding him of our payment policy and that we were having some trouble collecting certain payments. He hit the roof and said that if he got another letter like that again, he would never use us. Times are tough and we are a small company, but we hoped he got the message. Now, we are in the busy season and I'm back to giving him the same bills months overdue. I have one bill from May of last year, it's only $180, but I've submitted it at least 6 times and have yet to be paid. Another bill for over $1700 from November. What would you do? If I push the issue, we could lose him and his referrals (he does refer us a lot). Losing this customer would mean having to acquire more business to make up for the loss. It's the principal that drive's me crazy; I love plumbing, but I have better things to do than keeping track of and chasing down old bills. Love to hear your input and opinions..

  • #2
    Re: Property managers...

    I had a customer who managed "alot" of commercial property. They gave me an average of 3 service calls a week. I was happy with doing the work, all staight forward sewer/drain calls.
    But... The average wait time from the time of submitted invoice to time of payment was 6 plus monthes !
    No thank you was my response after a year of following up on "late" invoices ( we had a discussion on payment within 30 days).
    For the time spent chasing my money and putting their calls a priority I could have used that time and effort towards building more customer base.
    Just my own experience.
    BTW, I am doing fine without this customer being a customer. Also we parted ways with an understanding why I couldn't work with a pay schedule so whacked out.

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    • #3
      Re: Property managers...

      I would cleanse myself of him. I get the same BS. You get rid of one and shortly after along comes another one

      What really ticks me off is returned checks

      What can you do it's just part of dealing with general population.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Property managers...

        If you want to try and salvage him for a customer, you need to have a 1 on 1 in person. Explain your situation and your policy. If he says he will make right on it, then give it another shot. If he stalls or gives you excuses, tellnhim you can't afford to finance his jobs beyond 30 days, as your suppliers have the same policy too. Even your credit card co. Does the same.

        You'll know in that face to face exactly where you're at.

        Rick.
        phoebe it is

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        • #5
          Re: Property managers...

          CUT HIM LOOSE , You'll eat You liver on this turD forever ! The Man up stairs will replace Him with a human being. Good luck.
          Last edited by toolaholic; 01-19-2013, 04:24 PM.
          I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Property managers...

            What Rick said. Take all the past due bills with you. Get payment for all of them. If he refuses, dump that customer and send the bills to a collections agency. Some money received is better than none.

            Unless you like working for free?
            ~~

            ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

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            • #7
              Re: Property managers...

              Originally posted by Plumber Punky View Post
              What Rick said. Take all the past due bills with you. Get payment for all of them. If he refuses, dump that customer and send the bills to a collections agency. Some money received is better than none.

              Unless you like working for free?

              Plus, this will now show up on his credit rating, which could haunt him for a while and hopefully make his life a little more miserable, especially if its listed as a charge off which was never paid. After a few of those he will be in deadbeat status. Find out who else works for him and see if they are in the same boat as you. Pass the word around that hes a deadbeat and maybe he'll have trouble getting anyone else to work for him.

              In short turn his abuse back against HIM.
              ---------------
              Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
              ---------------
              “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
              ---------
              "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
              ---------
              sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Property managers...

                Wow! This struck a nerve! Actually, I like him on a personal level. He's an older guy (65) who's thinking about retiring as his job is very stressful. His phone constantly rings with people bitching about everything and anything. He feels like he's doing me a favor and thinks he's making me rich from all the business he sends me. He probably feels it would be wise for me to write off a bill here and there rather than "bite the hand that feeds me".. That drives me crazy.. In the 4 years I've been in business, I've (outside of his account) never been owed or shorted by anyone. Part of it might be luck, but I'm quick to turn down work if I get a bad vibe over the phone. Because of the real estate crash (our area one of the hardest hit), there are a ton of rentals in this area. If I get called by a renter who wants me to do work, I insist that I speak to the owner of the property beforehand even if the renter tells me they will pay. If I get "Uhhh.. He's really hard to get in touch with.. I'll pay you for today and just take it from next month's rent!" No dice. Call someone else. Do I like turning down work? Not at all. Suppose I do the work and then the renter gives me a run around for payment? Can I go after the property owner? He could say he doesn't know who I am and that he never gave permission to even be in his house. He could tell me to pound salt and that his best friend owns XYZ Plumbing and does all his plumbing work. Go after the renter? Waste of time. I can just imagine what would happen if after every job I put a bill on the table and said, "Just pay within 30 days and we're good". I'd have to keep track of all those bills, payments, etc. We're not talking about major projects in the thousands of dollars- OK, I rebuilt your toilet, pay me X. Great, here's you receipt, call us if you need anything else. I'm going to take your advice and confront him face to face. If he hems and haws it will be obvious he's not taking me seriously. At that point, I will tell him no further work until all past bills are paid. It's at that point he will think or call me an ungrateful XXXX, and let me know he'll never recommend me again. My response to that is simple: The phone book is filled with plumbers, take your pick. Try a new one out every week. It's true I'm not the only one in the area who does good plumbing work. BUT: any company you will like, worth it's salt, will not go to your jobs in hope of getting paid or wait over a month. After a month, most companies will be on the phone and will do no further work until you're caught up. After two months, they will threaten court or collection. He knows I'm small and figures our personal relationship buys him time.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Property managers...

                  Rich,
                  For more than 20 years I did the service work for probably the largest hotel company in the country. I was the go to guy, 24/7 for any and all plumbing work that the maintenance men couldn't handle.
                  For those 20 years, I was paid in 10 days via, direct deposit. They were my KEY ACCOUNT, to the tune of a couple hundred K per year.

                  Then things started changing in their corporate structure. Various managers who handled maintenance issues started getting Quarterly incentive$ based on how little they spent on keeping things running. So when a hotel needed a new water heater or boiler, and it looked like it could mess up their bonus, they would systematically postpone paying me.

                  Over a period of 2 years, they went from 10 days direct deposit, to 178 days on a $46,000.00 boiler job. All because of a "maintenance man" figured out how to game their bonus system at my expense.

                  On the 178th day of that invoice, I drove out to the hotel where I'd installed their new system. There I told the "Chief Engineer" that I was going to become as infamous as Charles Whittman and Lee Harvey Oswald if I didn't get paid today. He explained that he'd approved my bill for payment on the same day as we had completed the work, as had his GM. He then brought me a cup of coffee told me to relax a bit and he'd check into why I hadn't been paid six months ago.

                  Five minutes later the GM appeared along with the paper work approving my payment that she had sent to the "Regional Maintenance Manager" who was holding up my payment. Long story short. MY MONEY was in MY ACCOUNT within an hour.

                  After I was paid I never did anymore work for the Billionaire Brothers , but I don't lose any sleep about getting paid.

                  Today, 90% of my work is for property managers, who all pay within 10 days. Any issues with owners, billing etc., is their job, not mine. I've only had a one that tried to make me collect from an owner who refused to pay the bill. He learned real quick that in commercial work in Arizona the materials belong to me until I'm paid in full. When I showed up to reclaim my property, he was more than happy to run to the bank and get my cash.

                  Bottom line. Get the money.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Property managers...

                    Sounds like he does pay you for your work it just takes him a long time to pay you. The 1 st thing you need to fiquire out is can you live without him as a customer & the referrals he gives you. I would go to him & tell him your company is having problems due to cash flow (it's ok to BS the BSer(him)). And that you discussed this problem with your accountant and they made some recommendations. The recommendations are : 1) He fill out a credit application 2) that you file liens on the property of any properties that have a balance 10 days before your state's law says you must file a lien by. 3) that you raise your prices by 6.38%. 4) that you collect interest on any pass due invoice. I would tell him that you do not want to this, but that due to the fact you are not being paid in a timely manner you are financially left with no choice. Remember if his job is as stressful as you think it is you are helping him reduce that level by you performing your job effectively. Yes there are other plumbers out there that are able to do the job, but he will have to take the chance that finds one on the 1st try.

                    90% of my work is commercial ,so late pay is part of life. Getting paid on everything you do on account is a skill just like performing the work is. It takes time & study to achive a high success rate. I have 1 customer whose accounting system is so messed up he either over or under pays me. When he over pays me I just keep it and apply it to the next job I do with him. By the way collection agencies are a waste of time you can do the same things they do (which is call the customer and keep calling until they pay you) and not be charged 20 - 50 % of the amount of the invoice.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Property managers...

                      One of my first PM accounts started with me 1981. When I sold my business they stayed with the guy I sold it to. Now 32-years later I don't think they have ever been under $120.000 per year in service work. They didn't always pay fast but they always paid. Looking back, I'm glad I never gave up on them.

                      Mark
                      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Property managers...

                        Just like when insurance may or may not be in the picture. Talk to him one on one. If its the association problem, fix it. If not, bill the association for time spent and leave a card. If the association wants you to do the repair on the owners behest, get your money from the association and let the association recoup the money. I would never kick a good customer to the side as long as they pay. This may take some talking to resolve minor issues and that is all I see, minor issues.
                        AllurePlumbing.com
                        • leak detection
                        • drain cleaning
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                        • and other specialties.

                        Greensboro NC, Winston-Salem NC, High Point NC, Thomasville NC, Kernersville NC

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                        • #13
                          Re: Property managers...

                          I'd cut him loose Rich, but I also know the area you work in very well, so you're in a no win situation.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Property managers...

                            Call him and remind him of your policy on payments and tell him to catch up and from now on it's COD with a credit card when work is performed.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Property managers...

                              Originally posted by ChrisConnor View Post
                              Call him and remind him of your policy on payments and tell him to catch up and from now on it's COD with a credit card when work is performed.
                              Carry your smart phone and the Square adapter to run the card immediately. Who says the card is any good with this joker?
                              ~~

                              ... it was plumbed by Ray Charles and his helper Stevie Wonder

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