How to Start a Professional Painting Business – The Non-Paying Customer


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All businesses run into the non-paying customer once in a while.  This is why it is important to get a signed contract and money up front for some of the labor and all of the materials.  This way, you are not out of pocket for anything.

You can deal with a non-paying customer by putting a lien on their property.  In order to do this, you have to issue them a Notice Of Lien.  This liens the property so that when they go to sell, get financing or even refinance, the lien comes up.  The lien will stay on the property for 7 years in most states.  The lien is filed in the county where the property is located.  Be sure to follow all of the rules for issuing a lien when you are doing this.

You can also move the court so that the lien is satisfied.  You can do this on your own or have an attorney do this for you.  If you lien the house properly, the judge can issue an order for the lien to be satisfied or the house sold.  You should be aware of how you can collect for work that was done but not paid for whenever you start a service business.  Whenever you do work on property, you can put a mechanic’s lien on the property to reclaim the amount due to you.

Most customers will pay.  Some might ask you for a waiver of lien as well as a materials waiver of lien.  You can download these forms online or get them from the county in which the property is located.  If the work is done and paid, then you are basically telling the customer that you have been paid and waiving all claims to future monies due.  Most customers will not ask for a waiver of lien because they are unsure about mechanic’s liens or do not even know that they exist.

Before you issue any waiver of lien, make sure that any check has cleared and any credit card payment has also cleared.  Many credit card companies will dispute claims for their customers.  If you have already issued them a waiver of lien and they decide to dispute the claim with the credit card company, it leaves you in a poor position.  Again, this is another reason why you need to have a signed contract before you perform any work.  These disputes are usually only good for 30 or 60 days at the most, so you can wait until then to issue the waiver.

You can join a local trade association to learn more about starting a service business like a home painting business.  You should also join your local chamber of commerce as this is a likely source for getting business.  Always do the right thing by the customer, never try to cut corners by cheating them with inferior products and fix any problems that occur and you will have a profitable home painting business.

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