When you went to buy your computer, you paid for the computer in advance. When you went to the dentist, you paid your $5000 bill <grin> on the way out. And yet, when it comes to collecting money in your own business, you’re running up against a big, bad wall.
So how do you get paid on time?
In March 1999, I went to the doctor with a massive headache. I was also getting a dull ache in my chest. And the headaches and pain wouldn’t go away. The doctor said I had a pretty nasty case of high blood pressure. The reason? Some of my ‘best’ customers weren’t paying on time.
Some bills were three months old...
Some bills were celebrating their first birthday! And with each passing day, I’d get more and more frustrated and dejected. I felt I really needed the work, and would do the work with great gusto, only to slip into a loop of delayed payments. My high blood pressure was literally caused by the mounting number of dues owed to me.
Then I changed the rules
As you should do too. See, the biggest problem with payment, is simply the fact that you don’t have rules. If you have rules, then at least the client pays attention to those rules. If all you’re going to do, is do what everyone else does, then the client treats you like everybody–or in some cases, like a nobody.
So the first step is to make the rules
When you sit in front of a customer, the following needs to be sorted out:
If you’re dealing with a product
1) The specs of the product
2) The time frame of delivery
3) When the customer is expected to pay the bill
4) The penalty for not paying on time
1) XYX company will create a website that enables you to upload your own information.
2) The website will be up on 15th August 2005.
3) The customer is expected to pay the full amount by 12th August 2005, or in stages of the project.
4) The penalty for not paying on time is that the website will not be delivered to the customer + other interest penalties.
I know what you’re thinking
The customer is not going to bend over backwards to play by your rules.
Well, humour me.
Set the rules at the first meeting. Get the customer to sign off on the rules. And once the customer realises that you won’t play ball, unless they keep to the rules, they’ll keep to the rules.
Yes, even the big companies play ball
Your services and products are bound by the contract you put together. The key is the penalty. Many suppliers I’ve worked with in the past, have had a torrid time collecting amounts from clients, till they put the penalty clause in place. Even the most dumb accountant sees the penalty factor and will stick to the rules. Make sure you keep your part of the agreement too. If you say payment must be made before delivery, then don’t deliver unless you’re paid. If you break the rules, clients learn really quickly and know you won’t keep your word.
Set the rules. Keep to the rules. And you’ll spend a lot less time at the doctor, as I did.
Sean D’Souza is a marketer with a deep understanding of how customers think. He has worked extensively with one of the best advertising agencies in the world on copywriting, writing TV commercials (and learning how to do them in 5 seconds), graphic design, cartoons and web design.
Specialties: Understanding why customers buy. And more importantly what stops them from signing on the dotted line, at the very last second. The science and art of persuasion. Learn more about Sean at www.psychotactics.com.