Chasing Slow Payers has three simple and fundamental rules. We’ve already discussed the first rule – Start early and tell everyone what you’re doing.
The second rule is Always Be The Good Guy:
The third is Become very hard to ignore.
So, to the second rule : Always Be The Good Guy.
If you did the work, you shouldn’t be the first person to chase for payment. By having someone else initially following up any overdue accounts you can remain the Good Guy and be paid more quickly at the same time!
Many business owners feel that they should phone their own customers – “in case they have any queries about the account or with the work done“. But, why not just assume that all’s “A OK” until you’re told otherwise?
Forewarned is forearmed
Some of your customers at some time must have
* queried the product or service or
* feel that they were charged too much.
But, if that customer is phoned by the person that did that work the discussion can easily turn from a very friendly “When do you feel you’ll be able to pay your account?” phone call into a defensive
* “This is why it took so long to do the work” call or
* “This is why the charges are higher than you expected” call.
Why? Because before the business owner phoned his customer he had absolutely no idea why his account hadn’t been paid. He was unarmed, unprepared for what was coming. He naturally starts defending his bill because he’s probably proud of the work done, may have already discounted the account to some extent already and is quite happy that all was “A” OK.
The danger here is that calling unprepared like this, the all-important Customer-Owner relationship is at serious risk. The goodwill.
Ignorance (of the work done) is power
However, if someone else phones then, if there is a dispute
1: They can note down the details and any queries.
2: They can empathise (when relevant), and
3: They won’t go into defensive mode because …. they didn’t do the work!
They’re best, quite simply, because they’re not emotionally involved with the work done. So, if the customer gets excited or the language becomes “colourful” this person won’t get too upset. After all, it wasn’t their work that was being criticised and they’ll still get paid for what they do anyway.
They’re simply being information gatherers, performing a simple administrative function. Merely curious why the account hasn’t been settled …. yet.
OK, so the messenger gets shot twice
After this person (let’s call him “The Messenger”) has made the call, the next thing for them to do is to tell the person that did do the work what the customer had to say. And …. Whammo. The owner will react. It’s only natural.
* What a load of rubbish.
* We had to do a lot of extra work ….. He must’ve forgotten about that.
* I can’t believe he said that about me after all the effort I put in.
Does the Messenger really care what the disputing customer said about the owner and the standard of the work done? Maybe. But nowhere nearly as much as the owner.
After the heat’s died down, then the owner can then address the situation calmly. From a position of knowledge, not emotion.
Well thought out.