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Re: Grinding back when good clients start to Grind

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Michael Sigmon
Re: Grinding back when good clients start to Grind
on Aug 2, 2010 at 7:10:10 pm

I think this is a valuable perspective. When an ongoing client suddenly becomes slow to pay, take the time to find out the real story.

Sometimes balls do get dropped. I've had this happen more than once, and all it took was a courteous phone call or two to get it straightened out and get paid. One time very recently, the client paid EARLY but I never received their check for whatever reason. Mail really does get lost by the post office, every so often. This was a client who had been slow-paying on four previous occasions, so it would have been easy for me to assume, 'there they go again, the SOBs' and go off on them. But, I didn't. One polite phone call later and they FedEx'd my check for next day delivery, which was totally unnecessary (a slower service would have been perfectly acceptable). Clearly, having a level head about it paid off.

Sometimes clients are having cash flow issues but are reluctant or ashamed to talk about it... so they lie to you or tell lower-level flunkies to give you a story. Making the client comfortable with leveling with you as to why they are slow to pay, can reveal quite a bit and possibly offer a path to resolution.

And... sometimes they are just trying to float their business on your back. Maybe they are going downhill. Maybe the boss' son took over and he has no clue how to run the show except into the ground. I've seen over and over that exact situation, where a family member (usually the son) takes over a business and has no vision other than cutting costs and grinding vendors.

But... at least take the time to find out. That's just good business sense.

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