The first rule about debts is to try and avoid customers who don’t pay what they owe you. If the amount is going to be large, get a deposit first, get a credit report, or both.
When you get a bad payer:
- Get onto the customer quickly.
- Follow up on a planned basis and minimise the time between each follow-up.
- When ringing the customer, get a commitment of how much will be paid and when.
- When following up by phone, write notes of the commitment made and preferably the actual words used by the customer.
- If you still have trouble collecting the debt, confront the customer with each of the promises and what was said.
- If you still can’t get paid, warn the customer you are going to take debt recovery action. If this does not produce results, carry out the threat promptly.
- If you're dealing with a company, the threat of winding it up can be very effective for those who are first in.
That's why it pays to act quickly. You don't want to be last in line when the money runs out.
The second rule is to avoid having your business dominated by one firm. If you possibly can, diversify your customer base as quickly as you can.
What if the company is too big to be concerned about your threats? There is little you can do other than reread rule 2. If the bad-paying corporate is only a small customer, some people load their bills to them to allow for bad payment practices.