Recently I was having a discussion with three business contacts about what tasks we found difficult as business owners, and I was surprised when two of them said they hated chasing up debts. They said that they felt embarrassed asking for payment and it was one of the jobs they often kept moving down their list of things to do. Now there are a couple of tasks I do put off but asking for my money is not one of them and I think it’s because I do think of the money as mine, not theirs. Why is that? Well, any money I am asking for is either money for work done, or money for work to be done but, whatever the situation it is money we have agreed will be paid by a certain time.
This means that, once the agreed date has passed, they owe me my money. The other thing is that, if enough people do not pay me, I will no longer be able to pay my bills or keep my business. Now sometimes the situation changes, and the terms have to be renegotiated, who could have foreseen the business challenges of the last two year.
Now I am lucky, I have great customers and usually when they do not pay it is because they have forgotten, or their payment processes have failed. Very rarely it is because they are being difficult. Therefore, when I contact them, I assume the former and not the latter. I remind them that payment has been missed and ask what I can do to help them to make the payment. It could be they need duplicate or additional information, and it might be that I can discuss making payment with someone in their accounts department.
My approach is always positive, never aggressive, and always in a spirit of working together to resolve the problem. It has always worked, and I have never had a bad debt. My current business is slightly different because people can, when money becomes due, decide not to continue their membership and thus payment is void, but, if they say they will be renewing I ask them for the money. Until I had the discussion with my contacts, I didn’t realise that other people didn’t like to do it.
How do you feel about collecting money due?
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