Performing the work was never the problem at Vineland Landscaping. Getting paid for it was.
Will Gruccio, president, calls his company’s billing system “our No. 1 problem, financially speaking,” and its overhaul “our biggest undertaking.”
Like many companies, Vineland used to bill for its services after the fact, when a construction job was completed or at the end of a month of maintenance services. But because it took so long get bills sent out, customers wouldn’t get their March bills until the end of April, or sometimes later. At one point, the company had $130,000 in payments more than 90 days late.
“It’s still impacting us in a very negative way,” Gruccio says. “We were growing fast. We didn’t have a handle on the amount we were billing. Some people got a bill two months after a service, and we’re still paying for it.”
Over the winter, Vineland reworked its billing system. It is moving some of its customers to pre-billed contracts, so they will pay for maintenance services before they’re completed, and it is processing bills more efficiently so they are received the first week of the month after services are performed.
And much like the Dirksens in Oklahoma, Gruccio and his team are paying more attention to the profit margins on their work. Vineland has revamped its estimating process on construction and maintenance to make sure new accounts are priced profitably.
“We used to just bid on how long we thought it would take,” Gruccio says. “We kind of made up our per-hour pricing. We did it based on competitors and we knew what the market dictated, but we didn’t know our actual internal figures.”