So there I am, standing at the door dreading what I have to go through next. Actually, I’ve done this a hundred times before and only a relative few have turned out to be the nightmarish encounter I’d never want to repeat. Most of these “heart to hearts” end up with a positive resolve, all parties back to square one and I walk away feeling better than before and sometimes even with a check. A few however, turn ugly at the speed of light where defensive postures are struck up immediately and tones and volumes escalate to a point that even when you try to come back to something rational, it is too late, the heated exchange is on. Those are the encounters that although few, are the ones I dread most and the reason I put off any involvement of this side of my business. That is, until everything else has been done and now it is up to me, the last line of hope to be recompensed for services rendered; time for collections.
Collections is a harsh reality of any business and a necessity for survival for the single operator. Without money flowing in, bills go unpaid, plans get put on hold and an over all strangle hold can ensue which can be very tough to get out of. Here are just a couple of my view points on getting paid for your hard work. I’d love to hear some of yours.
Have A Policy
I’m a big believer in policies for pest control companies big or small. Shoot, for the big company it’s just par for the course and it seems the peon client bends and bows to the pressure this behemoth uses to have their way. For the small guy however- “He aint got no policy in place and he if does, I could care less, it’s just him, he don’t have no lawyers backing him up!” Ok, I’m stereotyping a bit here but if I had a nickel for every time I saw this attitude first hand……
Payment Due At Time Of Service
It is my companies policy to be paid at the time of service and that is what we tell each new customer as they come on board. That said, I’d estimate 1/2 of all our accounts do not do this. I truly don’t know how this morphed into such a high percentage but there it is. It usually starts as a “my husband has the checkbook” or something similar and before you know it, the policy the client now enjoys is- “I’ll pay you later.” (ps. I’d love to strangle the guy who invented the 30 day payment rule- but I digress)
Getting Paid Ahead Of Time
Great if you can get it and I know some who have a real knack for what my computer program calls “advanced pays.” Unfortunately, this section of my pc system has tons of memory left in it due to little use- how bout yours? We offer a discount for advanced pays and are extremely accurate on the balance, ie: make a mistake or two and it’s unlikely you’ll get a big check next year. Would love to hear some success tips on this!
Credit Card Or Online Payments
For the mega company guy who WAS reading this post, this section is a joke. They have taken credit cards for years and have sophisticated systems in place that squeeze every last excuse and dime out of a customer. For those of you not in the top 100 list yet however, consider getting a merchants account where you can process credit card payments. You can have a machine that sits in the office, online accounts the customer logs into (your web site) or even have an app on your phone where you can receive payments right there at your clients home. I’ve only been ‘right’ 3 or 4 times in my 27 years of marriage, taking credit card payments was one of those times. 😉 It works!
Oh PLEASE! I have used several and I must say I have been sorely disappointed with each one. Even when they got ‘one’, I had to cough up 40%. Mind you it may not be entirely their faults but the success rates of a collection agency for a small company like mine who has mostly $40 dollars or $100 dollar claims is dismal. Most take my accounts but I can tell that they really do not try very hard because of the small return. (I can’t say I blame them) I find the biggest reason for failure however, is that the “alleged bad debtor” has more rights than even I do & I’m the one who’s out the $$$. There are so many rules against the process of collecting and if the person just claims harassment once or says “you’ve got the wrong #” they are forced to quit and that’s about all that can feasibly be done.
The School Of Hard Knuckles
So here I am back to where I started. It’s a cold morning and my knuckles sting from the rapping on the door. I’m nervous because my gals have clued me into the whole sorted story of how the non payment of the bill has come to this point. Very quickly once the door opens, I’m gonna become the sympathetic owner whose just trying to pay his bills or the rich bastard whose company never solved a problem or the staff was rude or- egad, who knows? Fortunately, I only end up doing this 3 or 4 times a year and out of that I turn out to be the good guy most of the time. And I must say- most of the time my customers turn out to be just fine as well once we all talk it over and they see I want what’s best for them as well. Nobody wins when harsh stances lead to hard feelings on either side and this includes even the times when you don’t get paid. At those times I find it’s best to just consider my bruised knuckles a light life’s lesson and just walk away.
What say you?