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Forum topic by Joseph Jossem posted 12-22-2012 04:12 PM 2075 views 0 times favorited 42 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2443 days

12-22-2012 04:12 PM

Once in a while I get customers that cost me money and my sanity.They change order mid construction dont pay on time and expect everything free.Usually I walk away from the situations but that is getting expensive.What do you guys do with these type customers they seem good at the start but go down hill fast.I mainly get these types in home instalation I think in the future when stuff goes wrong I should place a lein on the property to recover losses.

42 replies so far

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2376 days

#1 posted 12-22-2012 04:20 PM

Don’t hesitate on putting a lien on a project. I had 2 cabinet shop’s close their doors on me and even though I have several liens already in place I will still lose my a$$ this year….. Trying to work with people for me just does not pay off, they take advantage of you and will burn you….. After you put a lien on them they may steer away from you and if that is the way they want to do business then you don’t need them.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3823 days

#2 posted 12-22-2012 05:33 PM

I specify a 50-40-10 payment schedule so the work
doesn’t go to the client location until it’s 90%
paid for.

If the client won’t cough up the money when the
work is ready for installation, you’re covered because
in your agreement they’ve agreed to pay for storage
if any delay is their fault.

I don’t know your specific situation and it’s easy to want
to please people and get the job, but if you aren’t
aware of every concession and what it may cost you,
you may get backed into doing additional work you
hadn’t agreed to, or worse, not getting paid at all.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2529 days

#3 posted 12-22-2012 05:35 PM

changing things is called a change order, put it in writing showing the change in the price, and make them sign it. Just doing that will usually cause the client to behave more correctly. As for billing well, I’ve had issues with not getting money exactly when I need it to, but that’s pretty much a part of almost all businesses

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Dave Witkus's profile

Dave Witkus

29 posts in 2320 days

#4 posted 12-22-2012 08:21 PM

You mean they are not all like me and fly over and place cash in your hands? hehe….anyway….that 50-40-10 sounds like a good idea.

-- After you wipe away all the hype, who you really are is synonymous w how you treat people.

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#5 posted 12-22-2012 08:38 PM

The 50 40 10 is the only way to fly, he who controls the money controls the transaction. I have taken many jobs that I get a payment for the next stage of the process before I start that part of the job. I never start a job with out 50% down and if they object I explain trust is a two way street ,I need them to invest in the job to show they are committed to a good working relationship .Offer references and If they still object don’t do the job.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2859 days

#6 posted 12-22-2012 09:27 PM

a1Jim…I’m not in any trade business but I have friends that are (HVAC, glass, custom cabinets, etc.) and I shake my head at their stories. so seems to me that it’s critical to get the agreement in writing (one only needs to watch one or two segments of “Peoples Court” to figure that out).

payment terms…you have a battle there since there are probably as many non-performing tradesmen as there are non-paying customers…as a consumer I would be leery of a 50% downpayment …so perhaps the agreement should require 1st payment upon proof of purchase of materials…

a wise customer should be building a file on the contractor the same as the contractor should be building a file on the customer. as a contractor I would stress that point up-front…it puts the customer on notice that they are dealing with a pro.

the customer always has the state consumer protection office but something I read about blood and turnips (a judgement worth nothing is really worth nothing)...the contractor probably has a better chance (the power of the lien is HUGE in terms of costs to remove and in the case of a home, probably violates the terms of their mortgage).

and then we get into “profiling” issues as you contract with a client. I won’t go there of course other than to say that my custom glass friend would always price up if he knew the customer would ultimately find some minor flaw and negotiate down.

and business is indeed “mind-games”.

Merry Christmas

View Don W's profile

Don W

18989 posts in 2742 days

#7 posted 12-22-2012 09:33 PM

you’ve got to know your laws as well. In NY its against the law to take a down payment for services. I always did as teejk described, first payment when the material arrived. And depending on the length of the project, A well laid out payment schedule.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29972 posts in 2513 days

#8 posted 12-22-2012 09:38 PM

I do 50% down 50% on delivery. The firsy 50% usually covers my expenses so I am only down my labor.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#9 posted 12-22-2012 09:57 PM

teejk and Don

Your both right My proposal states what I’m to do and not do,time frame subject to lots of conditions,weather,labor loss,material delivery and more and even little things like the use of a bathroom when on a on site job. I include disclosers,exceptions,plus a lot more .any changes to the job they always sign change orders whether it involves extra cost or not, I even have them sign paper work saying I suggested something and they said they did not want it done. when I’m through with a job the customer signs a statement saying the job is completed to their satisfaction.
It is important to know the law in your state,as an example if you do construction work in Oregon and you are not licensed there’s no way the customer has to pay you unless it’s under $500 and you stated you are a handy man.
So even if a customer talks you into doing a job they don’t have to pay you for jobs over$500 unless you have a licence, on top of that you can be fined up to $10,000.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View REO's profile


929 posts in 2249 days

#10 posted 12-22-2012 10:20 PM

I have found that it is difficult to please everyone EVER. It takes a lot less work to piss ‘em all off!

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2859 days

#11 posted 12-22-2012 10:29 PM

Don W…there is of course no way to assure that the materials will be dedicated to that customer (and with every economic down-turn the “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” mentality comes true) but that payment requirement upon delivery (and proof of payment to the supplier BTW…in many states a supplier can lien against the customer if the contractor doesn’t pay), it does add a sense of comfort to the customer.

A professional looking agreement (you don’t need a lawyer in most cases) can be prepared with a template available for MS Word. And to repeat, put the customer on notice up-front that they should keep a file on you since you are keeping one on them. We all like making stuff and probably hate the back-office stuff but it goes with the territory. If a customer balks, the “bat alarm” should be going off.

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2859 days

#12 posted 12-22-2012 10:38 PM

REO…easy enough for the one-time customer…but we ran a grocery store for years and my dad taught me to keep my mouth shut…”keep them coming back…a nickle here, a dime there, pretty soon you win and the customer loses”.

a friend in the plumbing/HVAC business knows it as well…cranky customer he simply lets vent…they stay mad for awhile but sooner or later they call back for more work (then the cycle repeats!!!!).

business is “mind games” (Terry Tate Office Linebacker…google it and enjoy)...

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2859 days

#13 posted 12-22-2012 10:49 PM

a1Jim…Oregon is probably typical of many states…but I think those rules are the result of “cowboy” contractors. Of course we enact rules that catch nice fish with the intended carp…nothing will change other than the legitimate contractors will have to spend more $$$ on licenses (and in Wisconsin at least) annual training courses. consumer of course doesn’t realize that a sucessful business doesn’t “eat” those costs.

if I keep going I’m going to get political so I’ll stop!

Merry Christmas to all

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#14 posted 12-22-2012 10:54 PM

Venting is one thing not paying is another. After being in business for around 40 years I’ve learned not to even start a job if I don’t feel good about a potential customer. Who wants troublesome customers to comeback ? Usually they slow your work down,argue about how much and when to pay and challenge the job you have done even when they watch you build something for them with out question while building it. If I made the mistake of doing business with a person like that and they call back I tell them I’m back logged for two years and to call back then :))

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2365 days

#15 posted 12-22-2012 11:02 PM

i normally only do small side jobs for people like beds,end tables,benches,tables so on these i require 50% down 50% at pick-up.i had to many people to have me price to much stuff and want me to build it i tell them i need 50% down then there pet rabbit had to go to the vet or some good story.i’m like monte labor is about half and the materials is half,so i to look at it as labor lost.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

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