When chasing slow payers, treat them as you would like to be treated yourself – at all times. Because IF YOU DON’T allow people to “save face” (retain their pride) when dealing with them – they will do so themselves. The following true story has been included by way of example. (I was another Branch Manager at this company when this happened)
Many years ago, the Branch Manager of a large Finance Company in Mackay, Queensland, had to repossess a washing machine from an overweight, 50 year old mother of five who lived on the top floor of a three storey block of units. Now anyone that’s ever lived in a block of flats (I have) knows that everyone knows everyone else’s business – or would certainly like to.
Mackay, Queensland, Australia – sub-tropical climate – mid-January (middle of summer) – high humidity – extremely hot. Manager – wearing a white, short-sleeved shirt – sweating profusely – an unpleasant task to be done. Assistant Manager – same attire – equally hot. They arrive at the units, climb the six sets of steps to get to the top and knock on the door. (Neighbours peeking.)
“Come in. Come in”, she said. After the door was closed she burst into tears – couldn’t live without the machine – 5 children – dirty clothes, etc, etc. (Repossessions are NOT fun.)
The Manager had no choice, many repayment arrangements had been made but broken and his supervisor had instructed him to take the machine if she didn’t/couldn’t pay. So, lifting the heavy machine, getting grease on their hands and clean clothes, the Manager and his assistant carefully negotiated the machine down the six flights of steps. (Neighbours still peeking.)
With their now-wet shirts clinging to their bodies they eventually heaved the machine on to the company ute (a truck with a tray that carries heavy stuff!), shut the side-flap and started to get into the vehicle to drive away.
AT THAT PRECISE MOMENT … as the Manager’s left foot was in the vehicle, his right still on the concrete, he heard the woman’s voice from above. With a sidelong glance at her nosy neighbours she shouted,
… until it’s fixed properly”.
(She had saved face.)