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Regions Facility Services, a Florida-based trade contracting business, almost never had issues with non paying customers prior to COVID-19. However, in the spring of 2020 when many businesses were forced to close, they began to run into some slow payment issues.
Hal Bolter, the company’s president, did a Google search to see what he could do about these slow payments and discovered Levelset.
“It seemed too good to be true. The first notice was free, and I thought, it can’t be right for me to get this kind of service for free,” said Hal.
Within a few minutes he was able to easily file mechanics liens on customers who were suddenly unable to make payments.
The Background: Regions Facility Services before payment problems
Regions Facility Services has been in business for more than 17 years. They provide maintenance and repair services for commercial kitchens in restaurants and senior living facilities in Florida, Georgia, Texas, and other locations around the country.
“We come in after the restaurant closes and make repairs without the facility needing to shut down. We typically do complex repairs that a handyman can’t do,” Hal explained. “So think about the health inspector who comes in and sees mold behind the dish ring. You’ve got to clean it out, put it back together, and not disrupt operations while doing so. That’s where we come in.”
In Hal’s experience, Regions Facility Services had never faced payment collection problems because they exclusively work with financially-secure companies. “So when you think of our top clients, think of those national brands that often have large war chests and capital reserves and great banking relationships,” said Hal.
“We’ve never had to strong arm our customers using liens or even notice to owners to get paid because we do repeat business with clients and we use the next purchase order as our leverage to get paid if there’s a problem. Also, we’re in high demand because we have a unique service offering,” Hal said.
However, in the spring of 2020, things began to change.
The Situation: Economic troubles causing slow payment
When unforeseen circumstances arise, it’s not uncommon for businesses to stop making payments even if they have the cash to pay. This isn’t because they have bad relationships with the people who do work for them, but because it feels like the sensible thing to do when the economy seems uncertain.
“With COVID-19, the restaurants were forced to close, so they had no revenue and they certainly weren’t going to fix anything when they didn’t have money. And the senior living facilities wouldn’t allow anyone inside,” said Hal. “So we came to a revenue halt, and we were nursing our receivables to continue business operations.”
Hal and his team began making calls to their customers’ accounting departments, but their calls weren’t being returned — and checks weren’t coming in the mail. With the lack of communication and with news of certain brands going bankrupt, Hal knew that the business needed to take more serious actions to get paid.
“Getting paid is not usually a problem for us. But this pandemic created a situation where some of those national brands got in hot water financially, so we just needed to turn to someone to help us get paid. That’s where Levelset came along,” Hal explained.
The Solution: Using Levelset to file mechanics liens
In April, Hal quickly filed mechanics liens on jobs with customers that had already declared bad news publicly. He also sent a notice to owner (or, preliminary notice) to each customer that he thought presented a risk, and when these customers failed to respond, Hal decided to file mechanics liens on his jobs with those customers as well.
“Hopefully that will grab their attention and get us paid. If nothing else, I knew it would at least put a damper on their ability to liquidate their assets and would hopefully get us paid some day,” said Hal.
Filing a lien was the best option for Hal to attempt to get paid once customers’ businesses were going south. Even if Hal doesn’t receive payment right away, he is more likely to receive payment in case these customers go bankrupt, since mechanics liens are considered to be secured debt in bankruptcy proceedings.
Armed with this information, Hal was ready to file mechanics liens, but because he hadn’t dealt with slow paying customers in the past, he wasn’t entirely familiar with the process for filing a lien.
“So I went and Googled ‘file a lien’ and Levelset popped up. Ironically, I didn’t trust it at first. But as I read more, all roads brought me back to Levelset,” Hal said.
Hal found that it was simple and fast to follow up on the notice to owner by filing a mechanics lien. “It took maybe two minutes per document. It was just a click to convert, and then I had to put in the amount of the job and pay. It was easy,” Hal described. “I’m no expert, but I would say that I can’t imagine not using Levelset. You’ve taken something that has a lot of mystery to it and made it easy.”
In fact, Hal would highly recommend Levelset to any subcontractor dealing with payment problems or wanting to get ahead of payment problems.
“If you were considering using Levelset, just give it a try. I think you’ll be very impressed with how the service is set up, how the dashboard is laid out, your access to your projects, and the notifications you’ll receive,” Hal said. “To me, Levelset does for collections what Indeed has done for recruiting and what Salesforce has done for sales and marketing. It keeps those important activities front of mind.”
Looking for a quick solution to payment problems?
Whether you need to occasionally file a lien in rare non-payment situations like Hal, or whether you want to protect all of your payments by sending notices on every job, Levelset can help you out. Learn more about how you can get paid in times of instability. Or, file a mechanics lien now to secure payment on a job.
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