Online Billing Pleases Customers, Wife, and Contractor Himself

Ken Hennebert, owner of KLC Lawn & Landscape in Maryville, TN, is the proverbial wearer of many hats. He handles sales, administration, and the physical production of work in the field. He does it all mostly by himself, with occasional assistance from a part-time employee. Hennebert's wife Sarah helps out in various aspects quite a bit too.

Business has been good—to the point that tasks such as billing, collecting and banking are becoming a real time suck again. Thus, Hennebert is all for simplifying his life on the administrative side of the coin.

He began invoicing customers electronically (via an email sent from QuickBooks) six years ago. "About 90% of my customers get their bills electronically now," Hennebert relates. Last June, he took it one step further and began accepting online payments from customers.

"It's an add-on feature to QuickBooks," Hennebert explains. "The neat thing is that you don't even have to pay extra for it. QuickBooks makes their money through the fees associated with each online payment you accept."

When customers receive an electronic invoice, they are now given the option to pay online. They can use a credit card, debit card or their checking account.

"The fees actually aren't too bad at all," Hennebert points out. "It's something like 50 cents per check, and 3.25% or 3.5% for a debit or credit card. The way I look at it is that for every $100 in revenue, I'm spending no more than $3.50 for this. When you factor in all of the time I'm saving—not having to sign checks, fill out deposit slips or run to the bank—it's well worth it."

Another benefit, Hennebert adds, is that the payment is deposited into his bank account within 48 to 72 hours. An invoice shows as paid in QuickBooks, so he's alerted to keep an eye on his bank account to make sure the payment is deposited. He's never had a problem here.

"Only 5% of my customers who receive an electronic invoice are still writing checks," Hennebert says. "Most of my customers are now paying online. Using a checking account is the most popular method. But quite a few like to use a credit card; they like to rack up points for rebates and frequent flyer miles, or whatever."

Hennebert doesn't care—because either way works just fine for him. His costs are low, and his time savings are huge. "Now I can spend more of my time producing work, or selling more work," Hennebert says. "Or, I can actually do things like take a vacation with my family." Now that's the best reason a multiple hat-wearing landscape contractor could think of.

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