If you’ve ever been in charge of receivables at a construction company, you know that getting paid isn’t always easy. Before the fall of 2020, Kim Fannin — the office manager at Chabert Plumbing in Texas — constantly dealt with the pain of chasing down payments on top of dealing with her day-to-day billing and office management tasks.
“I’ve done billing for other companies, but I’ve never done construction billing, and it’s a completely different animal,” Kim explained.
Not only is construction billing complicated, but it also tends to result in some unpleasant conversations.
“I’m really friendly, but when it comes to dropping the hammer, I’m not really good at it. I just feel awkward, and I shouldn’t feel that way. We did the work so we deserve to get paid,” said Kim.
In the fall of 2020, Kim started to protect their lien rights on jobs, and getting paid seemed to get easier overnight. She uses Levelset as a partner to send payment paperwork (like preliminary notices), get payment insights, find property information, and manage payments — and it was a complete game-changer.
Read on to learn more about what Kim’s work life was like before using a construction payment solution, and how Chabert Plumbing was able to take on bigger jobs after using protecting lien rights.
Life before protecting lien rights with Levelset
Chabert Plumbing works as a subcontractor under some large general contractors.
“It’s not that these GCs are trying to take advantage of us, but it’s really easy to push around the little guy,” Kim said.
Not only did Kim struggle with collecting payment, but she also had to deal with the stress of tracking down payment status.
“Before we started using Levelset, we just had an accounts receivable spreadsheet. Each month, me and the owner, Pete Smith, would look over it and send emails and kind of ask where payment was,” Kim explained.
This process was extremely time-consuming and frustrating. Kim knew that there had to be a better way to collect payments.
After protecting lien rights through Levelset
When Kim and Pete first considered using Levelset to send notices, they felt uncomfortable with the idea. They knew about notices, but had some concerns about sending them.
“Sending notices can feel intimidating if you haven’t done it before,” said Kim. “We didn’t want to ruin relationships with our customers or make them feel we were being aggressive. However, sometimes sending a notice is enough to get the ball rolling if you aren’t getting paid. If you’ve never done it before, it may seem like you’re picking a fight. But what you’re really doing is you’re saying, ‘I did my work, I did my part, and it’s your turn to step up.’”
This change of heart came about when the company was getting paid on a particularly large project.
“We contacted Levelset, and we filed a notice of intent to lien. That was enough to get the contractor to take us seriously. They thought that they could push us around, but after that notice, they paid us quickly,” said Kim.
After that they decided to use Levelset regularly to send notices. Some of their notices go out automatically, and for some of the notices ,like the notice of intent to lien, Kim will get her boss’s approval before sending.
“I get an email reminder about an overdue payment, and then I can talk it over with my boss and he can say, ‘Oh, I know the check is in the mail’ or “You know what, we haven’t been paid. Let’s go ahead and send that notice of intent,’” Kim explained.
It’s not just the notices that are helping Kim do her job (although that’s a huge part of it!), but Levelset is making the process so much easier.
“When you’re a business owner or an employee at a company like ours, you have a lot on your mind. You have projects with deadlines, you’re working with tons of other contractors, you’re dealing with employees, and trying to get new clients. It’s a lot,” said Kim. “So, to have a company like Levelset looking over your shoulder and making sure you’re getting paid – that’s priceless.”
Levelset not only helps Kim with sending notices, but it also helps her track down property information and avoid risky customers.
“Levelset’s Scout Research fills in the blanks for me so that if I ever send a notice of intent to lien, it’s going to the right person. Otherwise, I’m just struggling and emailing everyone to try and get the right information,” said Kim. “Another great feature in Levelset is Payment Profiles. We can decide before we even put the time and effort into estimating a big project whether that contractor is someone we’d like to work with or not, which is really great.”
At the end of the day, Levelset is helping Chabert Plumbing run their financial operations more efficiently which means they can take on bigger jobs.
“Levelset has given us the confidence to take on bigger jobs because we know that we’re going to get paid. There’s not even a question that we’re going to get paid, because we know that with Levelset’s backing and Levelset’s help, we’re going to get it done,” said Kim.
Ready to get paid faster for all of your construction work?
Kim’s story is incredible, but it isn’t unique. Thousands of small, but growing, construction companies use Levelset to protect their lien rights and speed up payments.
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