Are You Asking For Your Money?

posted 31 Oct 2013, 06:51 by Dean Allan   [ updated 31 Oct 2013, 06:56 ]

Slow paying clients are a fact of business life and it amazes me how reluctant some business owners are to ask for their money when it comes time to chase slow payers.

One of the services that we provide is a debt collection service, where we will follow up with your clients to get your accounts paid on time and I would like to share with you a little technique I used recently that resulted in one of my clients finally being paid for services that they provided almost 5 months ago.

This particular client (of mine) had received numerous payment promises from a late paying customer (of theirs), yet 5 months later the account remained unpaid.

Not knowing how to proceed further, my client asked me if I could try and recoup the funds for them. 

The situation had got to a point where their client was no longer answering phone calls from them, but they did answer my call (I can only assume that they answered because they did not know my phone number) and were surprised to hear that the matter had been referred to a debt collection service.

The owner was most apologetic on the phone, explaining that the account would be paid immediately after a property settlement that was taking place in approximately 2 weeks time. 

Two weeks later the property settled, but my client's account remained unpaid - so I tried to call again and guess what? 

No-one answered the phone (I wonder if they made a note of my phone number the first time I rang?!!!).

What could be done? 

That's easy - I simply called the non-paying customer using another phone, this time on a Sunday afternoon and guess what?

The client answered!! 

When I asked why the account had not been paid the reply was almost laughable - the owner said that they do not work on weekends!!!

When I enquired what working on weekends and paying overdue accounts had in common, the reply was short and sweet - the phone was hung up in my ear!!!!

What should I do? 

Again, the answer was most simple - I sent an email to my client - cc'ing in their non-paying customer - explaining exactly what had happened and I asked my client if they now wanted me to lodge a claim with the Small Claims Tribunal for the matter to be heard in court - and of course all costs incurred in referring this matter to court would be added to their customer's unpaid account.

A short time after sending this email I received a call from my client asking why I had cc'd their non-paying customer in on the email and as I explained, if the matter did go to court, the magistrate hearing the case would see that we had done everything reasonably possible to get the customer to pay their account before having the matter heard in court - and this, of course, would normally be looked on favourably.

I also suggested that my client ring the non-paying customer the day after the email was sent before making a decision on whether or not to proceed - which they did - and guess what? 

Their client not only answered the phone, but was most apologetic and paid the account in full the same day!!!

The solution to non-paying customers is quite simple - ask for your money and if it is not forthcoming, keep asking!!!

If your account remains unpaid, refer the matter to the courts, explaining what you intend to do to your customer in a polite and professional manner during every step of the process and I have found that on all but one occasion (and I have been providing debt collection services since 2006) your customer will almost always pay your account in full, or at the very least enter into some kind of payment arrangement with you until the account is paid in full.

If you have provided a product or service and your client is happy with the product or service provided, you are entitled to payment in full - don't be afraid to ask, or at the very least, get someone to ask for you.