Times are rough. Creative financing may be the way to go in your area. I would ask for half now and negotiate the balance time frame. A little bit of flexibility will go a long way. Especially when the economy picks up. Helping out the customer today will create a loyal customer tomorrow. This is a potentially slippery slope as you will turn yourself into a cash flow business.
An example i lile to use is with my cell phone company AT&T. I lost my job 3 years ago and got i to a financial bind. The company gave me a 3 month deferment on payong the bill ( i have been a customer for 10 years ). What do you think the odds are that I would switch companies now....not likely.
charge @ completion unless it like a compressor then I give a price for replacement of comp or larg repair and collect that,if they decline i collect my service charge. I have had to except a few half payments and charge remainder on a few jobs. It.s part of the game but you have to be assertive and demand as much or all of you sc or people will try to play ya. If you do good work and are honest with your coustmers they will usually be good back.
Have to check your state laws too. In Florida a contractor cannot demand deposit before the beginning of work.
Hmm, I'm going to have to look in to this.
I have a few commercial accounts that pay your diagnostic charge before anything is done. Then if parts or more labor is needed to repair or replace, I present them with a proposal. The amount on the proposal is paid upfront before anymore work is performed.
Also, I demand a down payment for certain jobs that I'm uncomfortable having a lot of money tied into.
when the call comes in from the customer for service, the question back is "how will you be paying today? cash, check or credit card" If they cannot commit, you don't go.
I have NO problem firing a customer if he or she is not cooperative.
As to the woman that is out of town and selling the house? I'd take a credit card from her over the phone, charge the estimated amount right then and there and let her know that if it is less, she will see a refund. If it is more involved I will be calling for authorization to charge more. This is NOT a return customer and likely will not even be a referral, so I don't feel too bad about being bluntly businesslike. Not an option for her? I will tell her to call some of my friendly competitors and even give the phone #'s.