I guess it is all part of business, certainly one part that I do not enjoy…not being paid by your client.
When you bring on a new client you work hard to learn their personality, likes, and needs. You perform the service that they have asked you to do. You answer all of their telephone calls and texts, no matter what time received. You cancel and reschedule appointments for them because they have a hard time staying on task. You give them your best and they thank you and tell you that they appreciate the work that you are doing. When the job is done, you send their invoice and…wait for it…”crickets”. Now this particular person will not answer my calls or e-mails.
I help small business owners. The majority of my clients are local; right here in the Dayton area. Most of us know each other or at least have knowledge of each other. Can you image the gall of a small business owner in your own town not paying for services received? What does that say about the person? What does that say about her business?
When I contacted my attorney, she confirmed to me that this one of the painful parts of owning a business. So that you don’t have to learn the hard way like I did, I am sharing 3 Things that I Learned from being RIPPED OFF by my Client.
1. Get Your Money Up Front: The majority of Personal/Virtual Assistants that I come in contact with collect the fee for their services before the work is started. My business is still in the growing stage and I made the decision that I would not pre-collect for local small business. To cover myself, I work from a contract that was drawn up by my attorney. I have had the pleasure of working with wonderful people for the last 2 years that pay their bills. Then I met her! Now I have to collect my fees up front for all new clients for fear of non-payment.
2. You Cannot Always Trust People No Matter How/Where You Meet Them: Wow, this one is hard me. I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by wonderful people. Networking in Dayton is huge! I met this client through a large, well-known networking group. If you are reading this from the Dayton area I am sure you know this group and have probably attended many of their events. This is another reason that I felt confident in taking on the work without collecting up front. We have many of the same people in common! This is certainly not the fault of the networking group. I truly enjoy the people who I have met through the group and a few have become very close friends. Then I met her! Now, I can no longer trust the fellow members of my networking groups.
3. Use Your Resources: Harvey Mackay, author of Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, lists the 16 cornerstones for a solid network. He discusses the industries you need have in your networking circle. Along with an accountant and a banker, an attorney is on that list. Have an attorney on retainer! As I mentioned before, your attorney can help you with contracts and can move forward if/when you have to use the legal system to collect what is owed to you. Be familiar with the Small Claims Court policies of the cities your client resides in. If the unpaid debt is under $3000.00, you can file the necessary papers, go through the motions, and be awarded judgement for the amount of the unpaid debt plus your court costs. Don’t forget your local BBB (Better Business Bureau). It is very easy to file a complaint against the business online.
It is really sad that as business owners we may have to go to the extremes that I have listed above. It is because of a few other small business owners that are unprofessional and dishonest and won’t pay their debts. I, for one, have always paid my bills, both personally and professionally. I would feel like a big loser if I didn’t. I certainly would be concerned about my good name and the good name of my business in this small town if I was stiffing other business owners. Obviously, she doesn’t care about her name or her business. What I (and now you) can do is learn from my past, use our resources, and move forward. As for her, what is it they say about Karma?
About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. If you are a small business owner that needs more time during your day (and you pay your bills 🙂 ) contact me! http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207