Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Bad Debt

When most people picture a Debt Collector they usually have a mental image of a big burly bloke with a nickname like “Bruiser” or “Ox” who knocks on doors and demands payment.  However , the reality is far from this stereotype.
After five years in business I’ve only had to chase payment of my invoices once. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic in this day and age.  I think it must have to do with the mix of clients I work with.  Small business people tend to grasp the concept that cash flow is pretty important to a business.  When I do get a ‘late payer’ I have these very cute reminder stickers in a lovely non-threatening font that say:
"Your Account is overdue
Please pay us so we can pay our guy, who will pay the other guy,
 who will pay his guy, who will pay another guy and then they can pay YOU!"

I like them.  They kinda say we are all connected and let people know we are all in this together  - so look after each other!
But, I do remember the one time this didn’t work.  I’d send a reminder.  Nothing.  I’d make phone calls. Nothing.  My messages weren’t returned.  The longer the unpaid invoice sat there the more worried I became and angrier I was getting.  It just wasn’t fair and I didn’t know what to do about getting paid.  I had too much sweat and emotion invested in the debt.  Then I realised I needed a champion and I found one.  I called a professional debt collector.

My debt collector was a very quiet spoken and professional gentleman who asked me what steps I’d taken so far to recover my debt.  When I explained that I was not getting anywhere he said he’d be happy to chase the debt and if he was successful his fee was 20% of my outstanding debt.  If he was not successful then there would be no charge for his time and I’d be no worse off than I currently was. ( I think most people would agree 80% of your money is better than no money at all.)
I’m happy to say that after no more than a stern phone call from my Debt Collection Agent to my wayward client, I had my money the very same day.  Outstanding effort! 

If you have a client with an outstanding debt don’t make angry phone calls and fume over it.  Call in a calm and reasonable professional who will get results and can handle your case without emotion.  And leave the “Bruisers” of this world for movies and sit coms.

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