Get paid in full – steps to take to get paid – Up Front – tutorial
You’ve done the work; you’ve delivered the goods. Just one step remains: getting paid. You call the customer, only to be greeted by this tiresome litany: “Our accounting department is processing the paperwork now. Yes, yes, I know you billed us two months ago, but it shouldn’t take much longer. Just be patient.” If you’re a small-business owner, nothing is more frustrating, not to mention unprofitable. But there are steps you can take to increase your likelihood of getting paid:
1. Throughout the collection process, it’s a good idea to send periodic reminders, says Leonard Sklar, author of The Check Is Not in the Mail (Baroque Publishing,  348-7071). Sklar suggests you make these reminders more effective by printing ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED on the envelope, or by using a tried-and-true technique of direct-mail experts: stamping the envelope with CONFIDENTIAL or URGENT. After sending several reminders, Sklar says, you may want to vary your format: Send an envelope with no return address.
2. Keep in mind, he says, that written communication is only about one-tenth as effective as phoe calls. If your bill is due in 30 days, you should be on the phone on the 31st day if it hasn’t been paid, says Paul Mignini, Jr., president of the 40,000-member National Association of Credit Management, based in Columbia, Maryland. Such promptness conveys to the customer that you’re serious about payment. Be courteous and professional at all times, he says, but never get off the phone without obtaining two key pieces of information: when you’ll get the check and the amount of money your client will be sending. “If you can obtain these two items,” says Mignini, “85 percent of the time, you’ll get paid.”
3. At the end of 60 days, if you’ve tried these techniques to no avail, it’s time to flex some muscle. Sklar and Mignini both favor collection agencies. Small-claims court is also a good option. “The debtor will pay up on the spot 30 percent of the time,” says Sklar. A letter service is inexpensive but not as effective. Finally, as a last resort, there are attorneys. “Attorneys are less desirable,” says Sklar. “Many of them have collection problems of their own.”
COPYRIGHT 1991 Freedom Technology Media Group
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