Dump Water, Fla.: “I have never charged a late fee, but with the way fuel prices and business expenses are headed, my business needs to get paid on time. I have informed all of my new customers when they sign a contract for my services that I bill on the 15th of each month, and that they have until the 4th of the following month to pay, otherwise I will have to enforce a late fee. I have had no problems with existing customers, but I have had almost all of my new ones late their first month. I was wondering what people think is a fair percentage to charge for a late fee, or should I charge a flat rate? Any positive input will be helpful.”

Litchfield Park, Ariz.: “Good luck. I have never been paid a late fee. Tried it when I started, but didn’t get it and lost the customer. Just be happy they pay you. My opinion, of course.”

Zone 5: “What exactly does your contract state? Giving people a two-and-a-half-week grace period is just stupid, by the way. When it comes to the late fee, always remember that you are not a credit card company, do not charge like you are. I would say about 5 percent for the late fee, but if you want to be a d***, you can always charge something like $5 per day or something like that. You need to put the late fee charges in your contracts. Once said contracts are signed, then you have a leg to stand on. Remember, you’re a business, not just the guy that cuts grass. These people wanted a pro, that is you.”

Midwest: “We charge a $25 admin late fee. No problems over the last year since we started.”

Tampa, Fla.: “You have to be careful with late fees. In my state, you can’t charge whatever you want.”

Dump Water, Fla.: “First of all, a grace period is the time you have after the bill is due. I bill on the 15th of that month, which means I’m billing them before the work is complete (not stupid) and, yes, I give them an additional four days to pay. But, not only credit cards charge late fees. I get charged late fees if I don’t bring movies back on time, or if I pay my GL insurance late, or my electric bill, my water bill, my gas bill, my cable bill, etc. The world seems to revolve around late fees, so what’s a better reason why we can’t charge them other than I’m just being a d***?

“The reason I asked is my contract states there would be a 3 percent late fee added to any late payments received after the due date, and I wanted to get people’s input on a percentage rate without having to give away too much info (you know, checking to see if I’m being fair about my percentage rate.) But, thank you for your useless input.

“I have never, to this day, ever charged a late fee to anyone. I just [thought] that if I did, maybe that would motivate them to pay on time. It’s just a thought that has never been an action.”

Illinois: “I charge 10 percent of balance for a late fee. They pay it when they are late.”

Ohio: “By law, if you bill 30 days of service, they have 30 days to pay you. I charge a $10 admin late fee, plus 1.5 percent on all invoices over 30 days late.”

Orlando, Fla.: “What law? And, where is this a law? Nearly everything that is billed is based on 30 days. So, I can pay my mortgage, credit cards, phone bill, utilities, insurance, etc., 30 days late and not receive a late charge? I think not.”

St. Pete, Fla.: “Not a single thing you mentioned is a service. And, the guy who brought it up was in Ohio, I think. Does anyone understand the concept of a state law?”

SFLQPRU Clubhouse: “Those are real businesses. Lawnboys aren’t.”

Gambrills, Md.: “You need to check the maximum interest rate that your state allows you to charge. If you charge over that rate, and the case goes to court, you will collect 0 percent interest. Judges don’t take kindly to those who charge usurious rates.”

SFLQPRU Clubhouse: “We don’t charge late fees. We don’t get paid late. We get paid for everything we do, but then again, we know how to run a business.”

Dixon, Calif.: “So, you’re telling me you have never had a customer pay late or forget to pay. You are full of s***. We bill out at the end of the month for that month and payment is due by the 10th of next month. If payment is not received by the 15th of the month, we charge 10 percent unless the customer calls us and has a good reason. But, we only have a few each month that do this. Just remember, when the one-year contract is over, charge them a little more than you would to make up the difference.”

SFLQPRU Clubhouse: “We used to. Then we decided we weren’t going to deal with those people [that pay late] and changed our billing system.”

Washington, D.C.: “So, what is your billing system now? Do you only work with select customers or do you charge credit cards, etc.?”

SFLQPRU Clubhouse: “Just like buying something off the Internet. They charge the card before they ship and so do we. Same thing at the gas station, pay before you pump. That, plus we do select our customers somewhat. Not everyone that calls and wants to be a customer is accepted.”

North Port, Fla.: “Here’s what I charge and I never had anyone going into the second time late fee for not paying an old invoice before the due date:

“First time late: $15

“Second time late: $20

“Third (or more) time late: $30 plus 4 percent interest on balance due.”

Atlanta, Ga.: “We bill monthly for services rendered in the previous month. We add a $15 late fee if the customer has not paid the balance before the next monthly invoice goes out.”

Space Coast, Fla.: “I started assessing late fees after a 30 percent-plus delinquency rate for May, completely unacceptable. So, I added an addendum to my billing invoices that states that if a payment has not been received by close of business on the due date, at $15 late fee would be assessed. Since the implementation of this policy, I have had only three late payments in the past two months. I know that just about every business I deal with has a fee for delinquency, so why not LCOs?”

Kansas City, Mo.: “OK, here is my question since this is my first year of business. Where did all of you go to find out what your state allows for late fee charges? I am in business with a lot of customers in Kansas not paying, but have my business in Missouri.”

Gambrills, Md.: “You could probably do a Google search for it and find it easily, or go to your state attorney general’s office with the question.”

Weatherford, Texas: “Ten dollars for every week after two weeks they’re late.”

“In Your Own Words” is contributed from the lawn and landscape forum at www.lawnsite.com. Visit them, and join in the discussions.