Apologies to Morrissey and Marr, but it was too good a title not to steal.
Customers who won’t pay up … what do we do about them?
It’s a tricky one isn’t it, we don’t want to lose the prospect of future business with them but at the same time if they repeatedly fail to settle their bills according to our terms then that future business doesn’t seem so profitable any more. It’s easy enough to deal with if they simply won’t pay: we either write off the loss and resolve not to work with them again or we suggest getting a third party involved (sounds much better than spelling it out). Either way the relationship is soured.
But what about when the offending party pays a portion of what he owes, promises to settle the rest “soon” and then offers more work? Well, when it’s an issue which seriously affects your cashflow I think you have to draw your line in the sand and stand by it. You politely explain that unfortunately you cannot take on any more work from them until the account is settled, after which you will gladly carry on. It’s the only thing to do, the alternative is to become a doormat. If the customer is genuine they will understand your position and make efforts to put things right (and they will also respect you more and be wary of lapsing into the same situation again). If the customer is a rogue they will throw their hands up in horror that you’ve even suggested that they are in the wrong and you will lose their custom.
Our advice? Stand your ground, be nice, but if your gut instinct says you’re dealing with a rogue, you probably are … let them go.