How to Collect Pool Cleaning Payments: Tips & Best Practices
Picture this: it's the early 1990s, and you're running a bustling pool cleaning business. You have no problem securing clients, but collecting payments is nothing short of a logistical nightmare. You're chasing after checks, fumbling through cash transactions, and struggling with the occasional bounced check. Fast forward to the 21st century, and the pool service landscape has changed dramatically.
We've been blessed with an array of convenient digital payment methods, so collecting payments should be a breeze, right? Well, even with these modern conveniences at our fingertips, many pool cleaning professionals still find themselves navigating a complex labyrinth of payment options, often struggling to receive timely compensation for their hard work.
In this article, we’ll look at
- Setting payment expectations
- Offering multiple payment options
- And automating payment collection
Even more importantly, we’ll look at how you should follow up on a late payment, plus how to keep accurate payment records. With all that said, it's time to buckle down and get paid up.
Table of Contents
- Setting clear payment expectations
- Offering multiple payment options
- Automating payment collection
- Following up on late payments
- Keeping accurate payment records
- Final thoughts
The importance of setting clear payment expectations for collecting pool cleaning payments
Managing a customer's expectations is a major part of running a successful business. Whether we’re talking about getting paid on time or the process you use to clean pools, clearly stating your expectations up front is far and away one of the most important business practices.
Once you’ve set these expectations, it will give your customers a clearer vision of what they need to do and when they need to do it. So, how do you set clear expectations? Here are some best practices.
Agree to payment terms early on
We've all been on the receiving end of a surprising invoice, especially when it comes to service-based businesses (and not the good sort of surprise). Some businesses perform their job and then send the customer an invoice 30 days later, charging a seemingly arbitrary price for their services. This isn’t the way to manage your customer's expectations and keep them happy.
Instead, you’ll want to make sure your customers know what to expect regarding the total cost, payment terms, and payment deadlines. And if you can't determine your precise cost, give them a range and stick to the high-end so they can be pleasantly surprised if it ends up being less expensive.
Ask for a partial (or full) payment upfront
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re going to perform a monthly pool cleaning. The U.S. national average for pool maintenance companies that do that is around $132 per month, so that’s the figure we’ll use.
If you don't ask for a payment upfront, you could be several months deep in pool services before you figure out that there is a problem. While $264 doesn’t seem like that much money, it can quickly add up – which, when compounded by several other clients, can quickly put you out of business.
Instead, if you ask for a partial upfront payment, you’ll receive 25%-50% of the pool cleaning cost immediately. This will prove that your customer is serious and it will help you minimize any losses. If the prospect balks at the idea of you collecting an upfront deposit, that's a red flag. Don't be afraid of walking away from a bad deal – or a bad client.
Add your payment terms to the contract
It's not enough to have these terms settled with a "handshake deal." They need to be signed and in writing, along with a formal contract and proposal of the agreed-upon services. (It's all about managing expectations, remember?) If your customer refuses to pay, your signed contract will prove that they did know and agree to your payment terms upfront.
Offer as many payment methods as possible
Let’s face it, almost no one carries cash or has physical checks anymore. Therefore, if your pool maintenance company doesn't already accept electronic payments, you'll want to prioritize this. Overall, having multiple payment methods is easier, and more convenient for you and the client, and leaves a paper trail.
State your payment terms again on the invoice
When you collect payments, make sure everything is clear. Even if the client has agreed to the contract terms they’re probably not keeping them top-of-mind. Therefore, it's important to restate payment terms clearly on each invoice, even recurring invoices.
State your payment terms on your website
Finally, be sure your website also mentions your payment terms. We’re not talking about putting it in fine print deep on a buried page, either. Put it right on the main pricing page.
People like knowing what to expect; setting clear expectations makes this easy. Plus, being transparent with your rates imparts a sense of confidence that you know what you're worth and that you're willing to turn away customers who aren't willing to pay.
Offering multiple payment options for your pool cleaning business
Some companies still operate on a cash and/or physical check basis only, but they’re looking more and more like dinosaurs every day. If you want to keep up with your customers, you should offer multiple options. These include credit cards, ACH, PayPal, and even contactless methods like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Each method you accept – aside from cash and checks – will charge your bank account a fee. Some companies have decided to make their customers responsible for this fee, but we don’t advise doing that. Instead, you should look at it as the cost of doing business.
Current credit card processing fees range from 1.43% to 3.5% of the purchase price. If you accept ACH, you will have a per-transaction fee of approximately $0.29. However, in some instances, it could cost upwards of $10, so be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Meanwhile, PayPal has a variable scale, depending on your transaction type. Their average cost, though, is $3.49 + $0.49. In other words, you’ll receive $96.02 for every $100.
Skimmer Billing, a feature of the Skimmer pool service software, is designed to streamline your payment process and help you offer a variety of payment methods to your customers. Skimmer Billing simplifies invoicing and payment collection and is included with every Skimmer subscription. It allows you to accept multiple forms of payment, including credit and debit cards, ACH, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
By offering these options, you're meeting your customers' expectations for convenience and increasing the likelihood of receiving timely payments. For customers who prefer traditional payment methods like cash or check, Skimmer Billing has you covered. It allows you to log, track, and report on manual payments, ensuring that all transactions are accounted for in one centralized system.
Automating payment collection for your pool maintenance services
Every owner of a pool cleaning company knows time is truly the most valuable resource. Juggling the day-to-day operations of your company, from providing quality services to managing your team, is the real challenge.
One way to save time and increase efficiency is by automating as much as possible, including collecting customer payments for your pool services. Skimmer Billing can help facilitate payment automation, allowing you to focus more on growing your business and less on chasing after recurring payments.
Automating payment collection for a pool company has several advantages. First, it helps reduce the time spent on manual invoicing, tracking payments, and following up with clients. By automating these tasks, you free up valuable time to invest in other business areas, such as marketing, employee training, or expanding your service offerings.
Second, payment automation helps improve your cash flow. When you automate payment collection, you reduce the chances of late or missed payments, which can significantly burden your business's finances. With Skimmer Billing's AutoPay feature, customers can opt into automatic payments for routine pool services, ensuring you receive timely payments without the hassle of chasing after them.
Third, automating payment collection contributes to a better customer experience. In today's fast-paced, digital world, customers appreciate convenience and efficiency. Skimmer Billing allows you to send electronic invoices and provide multiple payment options, including credit and debit cards, ACH, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
By making it easy for your clients to pay for your services, you're more likely to maintain a loyal customer base and even attract new clients through word-of-mouth referrals. Skimmer Billing seamlessly integrates with your Skimmer software, making implementing payment automation in your pool service business simple.
Not only does it help you offer a more convenient and streamlined payment experience for your customers, but it also helps you save time, improve cash flow, and focus on what matters most - providing exceptional pool services.
By embracing payment automation with Skimmer Billing, you're investing in the long-term success of your pool service business, ensuring that you can continue to grow and thrive in an increasingly competitive industry.
Following up on late payments
In any service-based business, following up on late payments is an inevitable part of the job. You already know that chasing down pool owners for overdue payments is time-consuming and frustrating.
However, handling late payments professionally and efficiently is crucial to maintaining healthy cash flow and positive client relationships. Here are some tips for following up on late payments while using Skimmer Billing to streamline the process:
Set clear payment expectations
From the outset, ensure your customers understand your payment terms and deadlines. Skimmer Billing allows you to include payment terms on your invoices and set up automated payment reminders, helping to reduce confusion and encourage timely payments.
Be proactive with reminders
Don't wait until payments are overdue to remind your customers. With Skimmer Billing, you can send friendly, automated reminders before the payment due date, reinforcing the importance of prompt payment and helping to minimize late payments.
Maintain a professional tone
When following up on late payments, staying professional and polite is essential. Skimmer Billing enables you to customize your payment reminder emails, allowing you to craft a respectful and courteous message that maintains a positive relationship with your customers.
Offer convenient payment options
Make it easy for your customers to pay their overdue invoices by providing multiple payment methods. Skimmer Billing accepts credit and debit cards, ACH, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, ensuring that your customers have various options to settle their outstanding balances quickly.
Keep track of payment status
Skimmer Billing's real-time reporting features simplify monitoring outstanding invoices and overdue payments. With this information at your fingertips, you can quickly identify which clients require follow-up, helping you stay organized and focused.
Be flexible and understanding
Sometimes, customers may be experiencing financial difficulties or have legitimate reasons for missing a payment deadline. By being empathetic and open to discussing alternative payment arrangements, you can maintain a positive relationship with your clients while ensuring your business receives payment.
Following up on late payments can be a delicate task, but with Skimmer Billing, you can streamline the process and maintain a professional approach.
By leveraging Skimmer Billing's features and following these best practices, you can minimize late payments and keep your pool service business running smoothly.
Keeping accurate payment records
Maintaining accurate payment records is essential for any pool service business. Proper record-keeping helps you stay organized and provides valuable insights into your company's financial health. Furthermore, accurate payment records are crucial for tax purposes and in the event of a financial audit.
Skimmer Billing can simplify the process by helping you:
- Monitor cash flow
- Improve customer relations
- Streamline tax preparation
- Support financial audits
- And plan for future growth
Skimmer Billing's integrated invoicing and payment tracking features make maintaining accurate payment records for your pool service business simple. By leveraging Skimmer Billing, you can stay organized, monitor your company's financial health, and ensure compliance with tax and financial regulations. Ultimately, accurate payment records are crucial to a successful and thriving pool service business.
Unpaid bills can hurt the profit margins of any small business, especially when it comes to pool companies where business is mostly seasonal, and the competition takes no prisoners. In theory, the process of collecting pool cleaning payments shouldn’t be that difficult for any pool maintenance company.
In practice, however, getting pulled in a million different directions is easy. Therefore, to ensure customers pay, pool cleaners should always:
- Set clear payment expectations
- Offer multiple payment options, such as automatic payments
- Follow up in a timely fashion on any late payments
- And always keep accurate payment records
In fact, your payment records will help you do everything from collecting outstanding bills to preparing your taxes. Therefore, it’s critical that you take the time to set up an invoicing system and always mark your invoices once they’ve been paid.
If you're ready to take your pool service business to the next level and learn more about how Skimmer Billing can help you save time, get paid faster, and provide a better payment experience for your customers, check out our features page or click to watch a live demo below.