Small business owner frustrated with customer who routinely pays late

Small business owner frustrated with customer who routinely pays late

Small business owner frustrated with customer who routinely pays late

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by Rozanne "Roze" Worrell

WVEC.com

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Dear Roze:

I’m so over it.  How should I deal with a customer who never pays for my services in a timely manner?  I always have to email her and tell her I haven’t received payment.  I hate doing that, but I don’t know when I would get paid if I didn’t.  I don’t think I should have to pester people for the money they owe me for services I’ve already rendered.  This customer knows payment for my services is due when she gets my bills.  Before I start working with someone, I lay out my services and fees and give them a sheet that details it all.  What makes this even more frustrating is that this woman is always telling me how appreciative and pleased she is with all my work.  I say she needs to put her money where her mouth is sooner than later! 

Show me the money now

Dear Show me the money now:

In as much as I can empathize with your situation and would initially consider having a talk with your customer, I can also see things from the perspective of your customer.  Some people have the attitude that paying a bill a week or two after having received it is acceptable behavior, similar to the way they handle many of their utility or credit card bills.  Another point to consider is if your service is one that your customer can obtain elsewhere, is it better to receive your payments a couple of weeks later than you prefer versus losing the business all together by offending them with your pestering?

Looking at the matter from your perspective, I would recommend having a discussion with your customer, emphasizing The Golden Rule.  Oftentimes, people can see the error of their ways when they are presented to them in such a manner.  You can calmly and respectfully ask your customer how she would feel if she was not paid in a timely manner for the work she has done.  Most people, especially those who work for someone else, rely if not expect to be paid promptly. 

I suggest you take either tact depending upon your competition and the nature of your relationship with this customer.  The bottom line, handle the issue in a way that will not jeopardize your business with this person.  Best of luck! 

Dear Roze:

I read your May 8th column (“Reader upset with college student’s lack of business etiquette”) where you say it’s best for job candidates to send thank you notes in addition to emails after their interviews.  This might sound like a dumb question, but don’t you think your advice is better suited for female job candidates?  Typically, guys don’t write notes, but we have no problem emailing a person after an interview.

Male job candidate

Dear Male job candidate:

I cannot budge on this advice; it remains gender neutral.  If anything, it is this type of follow-up that can separate you from your competition.  On more than one occasion, I have had clients tell me that their personalized handwritten notes left their interviewers with a more positive impression of them and/or gave them an edge over the other candidates.  These notes do not take too much time or effort to do, but their impact on the success of your job hunt can be huge!

© 2012 Rozanne R. Worrell

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