Author Topic: Service Business Marketing  (Read 2056 times)

APowers

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Service Business Marketing
« on: January 22, 2018, 10:01:26 PM »
I decided to jump in and see if I can start my own business. Goal is to hit 6 figure annual net income asap. But I think I need help with marketing, i.e., getting leads.

Maybe I'm just impatient, because it's only been a week...but with multiple ads on craigslist, I've gotten exactly two calls.

My business is a handyman/cleaning service, ftr.

Is there a better way to be marketing. Eventually, I'm sure I'll get some word-of-mouth, but I feel like it's taking too long to get off the ground.

Advice as to how to better turn up customers?

Smokystache

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 05:09:27 AM »
When you've needed a similar service in the past (plumber, HVAC, electrician, etc.), how have you found someone? Ask friends/neighbors how they find service people - make a list. These days it seems like there are lots of lists (Angie's list, etc.). Have you investigated how to get on those lists? Do you have a website? Does it come up as one of the top 3 when you try google searches similar to your services (community specific)? Does your website look professional? Do all your friends and family know you are starting this business so they can give referrals? Do you have a Facebook page for your business (most people are FB these days are 50-80 year olds - probably a perfect demographic for needing handyman services)?

And not to be discouraging, but a $100k net income means that you're making $2000/week = $400 day. .... so if you're able to book yourself out at 5 hours a day at $80/hr or 4 hours a day at $100 an hour .... but this means that you'd need to charge your customers for all parts & supplies AND you'd need to have a constant supply of customers every single working day of the year - don't forget about cancellations, bounced checks, etc. My impression is that handyman services would repeat occasionally (couple times a year at most?), but cleaning services would be much more steady and you wouldn't need to find as many customers. Shooting for a high goal can be useful at times, but you should also understand the math. Perhaps where you live, people will pay $100/hour for handymen services ... they wouldn't in my neck of the woods.

Good luck!!

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2018, 08:22:51 AM »
Back in the day I had to find this out the hard way.... we passed out a few thousand flyers with no calls. Normally with a few thousand flyers we would get calls. So I started to notice something, Merry Maids does not market house cleaning, commercial cleaning, termite control, weed control and furniture repair all in the same ad..... they own all of those businesses ya know. So if you want to do more than one thing, just make separate ads for them. But then again, I had to learn the hard way to choose 1 and concentrate on that 1 business at a time so until you have one of those things in a position to where you can branch off, you should only do 1 business at a time.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2018, 08:24:23 AM by SC93 »

oldladystache

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2018, 10:50:02 AM »
Pass out flyers in your target neighborhood -

dripping faucet? I'll fix it free

Just to get acquainted. While you're fixing the drip you can mention all the things you can do. Once they know you they will remember to call you when they need you, even if they don't have any immediate needs

craiglepaige

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2018, 01:59:07 PM »
I think the absolute best thing you can promote, when it comes to house services, is punctuality. MotherF'R how much I hate when someone tells me they'll be over at -insert time- only to show up late or not show up at all.

Last year I told a tree cutting company owner to go rightfully F himself after he didn't show up for the first appointment, without calling nor answering the phone when I called him fifteen minutes after the agreed upon time and then cancelling the second appointment because he had softball practice. He then tells me he'll call me if he's EVER in the area to come see the tree I wanted cut. Like wtf????  So you want me to just wait for you with $2500 cash in hand and have to beg you to come get it?? Go F yourself.

I called another company, turns out it was a friend from high school. Called him on Wednesday, tree was cut by Friday. He got my money and my advertisement on the front lawn.

For the love of Jesus, please be punctual and mindful of others' time. That will go along ways. 


Bicycle_B

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2018, 02:20:12 PM »
I'm full of terrible ideas for other people.  Here are a few for you.

1. Visit neighborhood associations if your city has them, introduce yourself to the members and pass out cards/flyers/pens.  Obviously, just do neighborhoods near you.  And stress that you're a neighbor.
2. I know a handyman whose only advertising is pens.  He hands one to anyone who asks what he does.  Swears he gets calls years later. 
3. Leave a canister of your pens by the sign-in sheet at the neighborhood meeting. 
4. Yep, like previous poster, knock on doors when the phone isn't ringing. 
5. Start a blog:  "Handyman's First 100 Calls" or (if you live in the Neighborly Manor Neighborhood) "Neighborly Manor Handyman".  Include the address on your cards/flyers/pens, mention when door knocking.  In the blog posts, be respectful of privacy, just say what you did and that you were on time and how satisfying it was to meet the customer's need, plus one or two minor personal details about yourself.
6. Simple website, no blog.  List every single thing you can do, plus every keyword that relates to them, plus every keyword relating to your location and the nearby neighborhoods. 
7. Post semi-fake Yelp reviews for repairs you have done, to start traffic to the website.
8. Contact every realtor who made a sale in your area, or advertises in your neighborhood.  Introduce self, ask if they want a free listing on your website.  Give them a container of your pens, tell them to keep it in their car.  Every month, call them back and ask if they would like more pens. 
9. Search the licensed trades databases maintained by your state for people who have licenses (electrical, plumbing, HVAC) in your zip code.  Contact the license holders, say you'd like to meet them and you're offering free donuts/tacos tomorrow 7:30 at your local donut/taco shop, and if they have cards, you'd like to refer them customers on jobs beyond your handyman skills.  Give them your pens and say if customers ask them to do work outside their trade, give those customers your pen.  Every month, give them more pens and another taco/donut.
10. You don't need 10 of these ideas, 9 are enough.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2018, 02:30:44 PM by Bicycle_B »

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2018, 02:44:35 PM »
Pass out flyers in your target neighborhood -

dripping faucet? I'll fix it free

Just to get acquainted. While you're fixing the drip you can mention all the things you can do. Once they know you they will remember to call you when they need you, even if they don't have any immediate needs

I'm not sure if what I said was taken wrong or not but just in case... to clear things up... I didn't mean, if you are advertising to be a handyman to only advertise 1 thing that you do. Handymen do a number of things so it would be fine to put down a list of 5-10 things you do and then say something like... if you don't see your problem on the list, please give me a call or text to see if I do what you need done.

Make sure you use texting. I don't even take calls any longer, my phone message says.... Hi, Text me please. Thank you. <<<< This gets me around all those damn telemarketers.

If you choose to actually knock on doors, in most cities you will need a special permit. In some cities you will also need one for flyers. Nowadays people get really upset at both knocking AND flyers. People will call just to b!tch you out for leaving a flyer on their door. The reason for a permit is because door knockers and flyer people do kill innocent people. That is THE reason they have the law in most cities. Think it can't happen in your city or small town.... think again.

^#6 on the list above.... a simple website. I design and do SEO (as a few people from here can testify and they can also testify that my sites are on the 1st page of relevant google searches) and there is no such thing as a simple website. But yes, a good website with actual good SEO will help.

Yes, be on time. The reason a lot of guys aren't on time, such as the tree guy, is because he makes so much money from the customers he has he can pick and choose what he wants to do so he just blows people off without thinking that he is wasting their time. A good example of what I always say.... when you work for yourself, if done right, you can make so much more than with a J O B.

For free I'm not naming the easy ways that you can get customers because I figure if you want customers very bad, a handyman business is one of, if not the easiest business to get customers. So you need to put some effort in to it.

APowers

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2018, 08:20:24 PM »
Wow, thank you all for the help!

I think I can take some of these suggestions and put them into action in the next few days.

When I'm looking for someone, I'll either look on Google maps and call down the list, or I'll go with someone that I've actually seen and liked their work (i.e., word of mouth from a friend/coworker). OR, more likely, I'll decide to just do it myself, because it's cheaper and I trust the guy to do a good job.


-I have not looked into getting on Angieslist. I didn't even think about it-- I assume it costs money? I'll check it out.
-I don't have a website. I've considered making a website, but that also costs money, I think. And I've never really dallied with website building. I'll see what I can do on that front. I think this might take some learning.
-I'm pretty new in town, so don't really have family or friends to start with. I'm working on the friends part, but that's a struggle for an introvert.
-I do have a few pretty basic business cards. I should probably make sure I'm giving those to customers so they can give my name/number to others. I should probably also print a few more.
-I do want to mingle more in the neighbourhood meetings, etc.
-I like the idea of getting/giving referrals from/to other professionals. I would hate to give a referral to a tradesman whose work I don't know, though, so that might be kind of hard. Also, buying donuts/tacos for a bunch of people sounds expensive.

I sound like a cheap, miserly skinflint, don't I? Lol. I guess I am...which is probably why I have the skillset that I do. *sigh* But still...I feel real pain spending money on a hope that someone will call me, or tell their customer to call me. That just feels like gambling and wastery to me.

----------------------------

Craiglepaige-- TIMELINESS. YES! It really grinds my gears when people don't show up at the time they agreed upon. And don't even bother to call. I HATE it. Also, when I call contractors to get estimates and they NEVER CALL ME BACK. I mean, do you not want my business? Well, okay then. These are two things I refuse to ever do as a businessman/service provider-- be late or non-responsive.

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2018, 08:42:55 PM »
Every time I refer someone they turn out to be a dud so I stopped. Every day people ask if I carry stoves or refrigerators and I say no. They ask if I know anyone who does.... NOPE.

I did that once and it backfired....

MaaS

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2018, 09:13:56 PM »
I do this for a living.  *Don't worry, no pitches inside!*

Facebook and AdWords are by far the best local acquisition channels.  But, it's all about execution.  They can easily be money pits if mismanaged. Look into the concept of interest targeting.  In short, they let you target people based on things people have recently shown interest in.  It's shockingly, and a bit creepily accurate.

Organic search is of course the holy grail (due to the "free" nature) but it takes a lot of time and effort. Anyone who tells you they can "make you rank #1 on Google" in a month is lying. Just a warning!

Another consideration is launching a referral program once you begin getting customers.  If this board has taught me one thing, it's that people will do anything for a $10 Amazon gift card.  You can manage this with a simple web form with personalized URLs (usually done via a URL parameter).  Provide your customers the link and you'll be shocked how many will share it socially.


SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2018, 11:08:48 PM »
I go through Craigslist now and then and about once a year I find a good salesperson through there. As I was going through just now I happen to think..... it's always been that someone else can make an ad and get 0-5 customers yet when I make an ad I get 20+ new customers. So make sure your ad is good because it doesn't matter where you advertise, if you have a bad ad, it will fail.

For example, I took the last line from 2 girls that have a house cleaning business....... We have our own vehicle and can come to you!

So I HAD to email and ask if it was cheaper if I brought my toilet & shower to them to clean. lmao

Just because YOU think you have a good ad or a friend says it is good.... it might not be. Tell whom ever is judging it for you to not be nice. Explain that they will hurt your feelings more if they tell you it is good when it actually sucks.

And by the way.... it's 2018 put in your phone number and let people know it's ok to text.

mustachedali

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2018, 11:24:16 PM »
I decided to jump in and see if I can start my own business. Goal is to hit 6 figure annual net income asap. But I think I need help with marketing, i.e., getting leads.

Maybe I'm just impatient, because it's only been a week...but with multiple ads on craigslist, I've gotten exactly two calls.

My business is a handyman/cleaning service, ftr.

Is there a better way to be marketing. Eventually, I'm sure I'll get some word-of-mouth, but I feel like it's taking too long to get off the ground.

Advice as to how to better turn up customers?

Have you tried reaching out to your direct network first and building upon that?

SeattleCPA

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2018, 06:28:20 AM »
I'm not so sure that two calls in a week is bad. Maybe it's not great. But what if those folks become customers and then regularly call you back.

I understand the two calls probably weren't quite this good in terms of revenue generation, but if you pick up 2 new customers a week and each customer calls you out a couple of times a year and each house call generates $200 of revenue for you, your ads this week mean maybe $400 of work this week... and $400 of work some other week later in the year, next year, maybe year after that etc.

If some thing happens next week and week after that and week after that, etc. the grinding math of arithmetic growth means that by next year, you should be way more than half way to your revenue goal.

BTW, making it through the slow revenue phase in those early weeks and months is a challenge in other service businesses, too, including running a small CPA firm.




APowers

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2018, 08:45:57 AM »
I decided to jump in and see if I can start my own business. Goal is to hit 6 figure annual net income asap. But I think I need help with marketing, i.e., getting leads.

Maybe I'm just impatient, because it's only been a week...but with multiple ads on craigslist, I've gotten exactly two calls.

My business is a handyman/cleaning service, ftr.

Is there a better way to be marketing. Eventually, I'm sure I'll get some word-of-mouth, but I feel like it's taking too long to get off the ground.

Advice as to how to better turn up customers?

Have you tried reaching out to your direct network first and building upon that?

My direct network? I'm not sure what you mean here. Do you mean friends and family? Family is in another state; and friends, well, friends are mostly non-existent at this point. I'm sorry to be such a negative Nellie...it's just, making friends is hard, and harder still when I don't know how to go about even finding people to be friends with.

Another consideration is launching a referral program once you begin getting customers.  If this board has taught me one thing, it's that people will do anything for a $10 Amazon gift card.  You can manage this with a simple web form with personalized URLs (usually done via a URL parameter).  Provide your customers the link and you'll be shocked how many will share it socially.

My SO says a referral program is a great idea. I'm clearly not the target market for my business, because my reaction is that if I can be giving people $10 discounts, then I'm charging $10 too much. So why wouldn't I just lower my price $10?

I don't feel like I understand marketing at all. Like, if you want to give out free $10 gift cards, I'll take one....but if you don't give them out, that's fine too, it's no harm done to me.

I go through Craigslist now and then and about once a year I find a good salesperson through there. As I was going through just now I happen to think..... it's always been that someone else can make an ad and get 0-5 customers yet when I make an ad I get 20+ new customers. So make sure your ad is good because it doesn't matter where you advertise, if you have a bad ad, it will fail.

For example, I took the last line from 2 girls that have a house cleaning business....... We have our own vehicle and can come to you!

So I HAD to email and ask if it was cheaper if I brought my toilet & shower to them to clean. lmao

Just because YOU think you have a good ad or a friend says it is good.... it might not be. Tell whom ever is judging it for you to not be nice. Explain that they will hurt your feelings more if they tell you it is good when it actually sucks.

And by the way.... it's 2018 put in your phone number and let people know it's ok to text.

I do wonder if my craigslist ad is good. Then I wonder how I would even tell, since I really struggle to grok effective advertising.

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2018, 09:41:40 AM »
I think the same as you about discounts. I've never really given discounts in any business. I always made sure my workers did a good job and was there on time. That pretty much spoke for itself. People would rather pay twice as much for good work than 10% off for crappy work. Once you start getting people that want a 10% discount that means they are the cheaper people and I learned that the cheap people are people you do not want to work for. They will always find the least little thing wrong and want the cheapest price.


HipGnosis

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2018, 05:22:06 PM »
I do this for a living.  *Don't worry, no pitches inside!*

Facebook and AdWords are by far the best local acquisition channels.
Could you please give a recommendation on where to go to learn about AdWords?

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2018, 09:20:36 AM »
I would try marketing to landlords. If you own a rental house (or several) or apartments you'll always have work that will come up. Some people do it themselves but many prefer to hire someone to handle those maintenance requests from tenants.

One way to find landlords would be to look for houses currently for rent in your area on Craigslist or elsewhere. The person you're going to reach is probably the owner. If you're just starting out offer them an hour of service for free (labor only). If you show up on time and do a good job they will probably call you back. Building up that kind of business is going to give you a lot higher value than getting a bunch of one-off jobs from homeowners. That landlord might have 20 houses and be calling you multiple times a week. Or they might have a large job like preparing a house to rent that could be a day or two of solid work just doing all the little things that are necessary after a long-term tenant moves out. A property management company would also be a good source as they may have dozens or hundreds of properties - though they often have in-house maintenance personnel. Still, they might have some overflow work if you prove yourself.

I work in commercial real estate and our property management department is next to me so I have heard a lot of calls to service businesses. It is a constant complaint that even in a city of over half a million people, there are literally just a handful of decent service companies in any particular area (janitorial, roofing, landscaping, etc.). The good ones are always booked and can quote high prices because presumably they have more work than they can handle. One person used to work in L.A. and it has taken her a while to adjust to the fact that there aren't dozens of companies she can call if one starts acting flaky or just does a bad job.

Do a good job and you will have more work than you can handle. Answer your phone and return calls promptly, even if it's to say you're sorry but you're too busy at the moment. We've all experienced the frustration of having to call multiple companies/people just to find someone who will provide a quote, or even answer the phone.

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2018, 12:15:22 PM »
I actually had this conversation with the OP in private message already but for anyone in the future..... working for landlords, apartments or anyone like that, the work is always there. And it is there for a reason, maybe a few reasons. 1st of all, when you work for someone like that, the time lines get changed a LOT and throws your schedule off. The pay is very low compared to working for home owners, sometimes you have to wait on your pay... 30-45-60-90 or will you ever get paid??????.... <<< that part really sucks compared to working for a home owner that pays TODAY! You won't feel like you are your own boss, you will feel like whom ever owns/manages the property is your boss.

The reason these 'J O B 's' are a dime a dozen is because the guy who was doing it before got fed up with the BS and low pay. If you work for a home owner you can make $40-$50-$100+ an hour... do you really think a landlord or apartment complex will pay you that much?

As far as home owner work.... there is more home owner work than landlord/apartment type of work, you just have to get out there and get it. Home owners call back the same guy time and time again when they need something done. Always answer your phone every time it rings (or have them text you) and you will always have HIGH priced work with home owners. Within a year you will be needing help and will have to decide if you want a helper or not. If done right, you will probably need a helper after only a couple of months.

profnot

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2018, 11:56:25 AM »
All the local hardware stores have lists of contractors with phone numbers.  Ask if you can be added to their lists.

Visit property management companies. 

Yes, you need a website - even if you get work by referral.  Websites are the new flyers.  A business isn't "real" unless it has a website and one page is fine.  You can make one for free at wix.com  I'm very low tech and I used it build my website.

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2018, 11:13:50 PM »
Also try Weebly.com for a super easy website. Making a site on Weebly or Wix is the very easy part. You need to learn a little SEO for it to do any good and you will need to build a little SEO in to the site as you go. Without SEO it's like your site is 1 star somewhere within the 300 billion in space.... same thing. It just sounds hard... if I learned it, anyone can.

My Weebly site ranks on 1st page of Google for key search terms in over 12 different towns. That's coming from a guy that had to look it up to even know what the hell SEO meant.

FiftyIsTheNewTwenty

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2018, 08:49:45 PM »
I had a similar business that was successful for over 15 years.  I sold it to my employees because  I wanted to move on.

Almost from the beginning, I had more work than I could handle.

My big piece of advice is to stay as local as possible, to eliminate driving time.  Time is money!  I was always aware of this, but should have worked harder at it.

Steer clear of discounts, referral bonuses, etc.  It's not necessary.  People want someone good and reliable, and are happy to pay the going rate.  They'll tell others, and others will call.  You don't want hagglers and bottom feeders.  It's unpleasant, spreads bad feelings and bad talk around, and can literally waste your time.

New tracts of brand new homes are great places to promote.  Lots of people will need things done, and everyone is talking with their neighbors about who does what, who to get, etc.  They're all networking with each other -- surf that wave!

Certain customers are social kingpins who will give you tons of referrals.  Of course, be good to them, and their friends!

Always be cheerful.  People appreciate another cheerful person in their lives.  Being that person makes it easy for them to call you.

People really do use Angie's List these days.

Church bulletins have always been, and still are, great advertising for local businesses.

Simple website, good SEO, but don't get too hung up on it.  Get a few good links from community organizations, etc.  Use the Get Listed service at moz.com to get your data into all the directories.  It's advertised as an annual service, but you probably only need to do it once, unless your info changes.

Don't game Yelp.  Or other reviews.  They can and do find out, and will issue the smackdown from hell.  You don't have time to mess with a problem like that.

Address any bad review promptly, professionally, and politely.

If you're going to use social media, be very disciplined about it.

Don't screw up and get bad reviews.  The secret to my success was always doing a good job, not making mistakes, and not ever having to come back for a re-do.  Time is money!




SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2018, 11:48:44 AM »
^^^ This right here ^^^

Don't even give a discount to your grandmother. Like it was said above.... no need to.... unless your work sucks.

Fishindude

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2018, 01:25:03 PM »
I'd get the word out to owners of multiple properties; landlords, apartment & condo complexes, realtors, etc.
Single family home owners are only good for one job at a time, these guys may be good for lots of repeat work.

SC93

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Re: Service Business Marketing
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2018, 03:33:40 PM »
I'd get the word out to owners of multiple properties; landlords, apartment & condo complexes, realtors, etc.
Single family home owners are only good for one job at a time, these guys may be good for lots of repeat work.

But here is what you don't understand. Would you rather do 1 job and work 6 hours and make $300 for a home owner or would you rather do several jobs and work 20 hours for $300 for people that own/manage properties?

What's that? The 20 hour job for $300 will have more work for you? Yes, true.... people that can work a calculator do not want that work and that is why there is so much of it available.

Not to mention it is really great to be paid TODAY by a home owner rather than waiting who knows how long on anyone other than a home owner to pay. I bet I have 25 jobs from 1999 that I'm still waiting on pay from. I know 1 company that still owes me over $30,000 vs 0 home owners that owe me any money.