How much time do you spend every day waiting – in traffic, in a lineup, for a response, for a phone call, for mail, for a number of people to appear and a variety of events to happen?
In your professional life, you are often waiting for a decision or instruction by someone else either a client/customer or someone in authority before you move forward and take action. However, there are circumstances when fear and uncertainty keep you waiting and prevent you from taking action.
If you are self-employed or running a small to medium-sized business, one of the most costly circumstances is when you are waiting to be paid for a product that you have delivered or service that you have performed. In today’s business world, the rule is that you do not bother your client/customer for payment until at least 30 days have passed and then you have permission to contact them regarding payment.
Because of the uncertainty and volatility in the business world over the past three years, companies and individuals have adopted a practice of taking as long as possible to pay so that they can feel more secure and comfortable with their cash flow and have continued access to available capital. This leaves you as their supplier in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position of waiting for your money and watching your cash reserves dwindle as expenses pile up and there is no income coming in to deal with them. You believe that if you ask your client/customer about an outstanding invoice that you will offend them, demean yourself and lose any future business.
What are you waiting for? If you have been told that the cheque is in the mail, the money is being transferred electronically and nothing has happened, it’s time to take action! Whether it’s been 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, get on the phone with your client/customer or the accounts payable department at their organization and find out if your invoice has been processed and paid. Your client/customer may be surprised to hear from you as they approved it some time ago and assumed that you had already received payment. Often it turns out that the invoice was misplaced, the cheque mailed to an incorrect address, the account number was entered incorrectly or any number of other circumstances. Your client/customer wants to get this resolved promptly as it reflects badly on them if they are not maintaining a great relationship with a key supplier like you. If it has been a considerable amount of time or this has happened more than once, they may also wonder if you will do business with them again.
What are you waiting for? This is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your client/customer and renegotiate the terms of your business agreement. You as a savvy and successful supplier can decide to negotiate that you are paid for a percentage of the purchase price of the product or the cost of the service performed prior to delivery. This demonstrates a strong commitment both from you and your client/customer.
What are you waiting for? Look at the agreement that you have in place with your clients/customers. If they have been slow to pay or there have been problems with payment, it’s time to renegotiate the agreement so that you receive partial payment in advance and prompt payment for the remainder when you deliver your product or service.