You did a fantastic job for a customer, helped them grow their revenue and as a result, got repeat business as well as promise for much more down the line. Very exciting indeed! However, your payments are delayed or stop coming. When you contact them, you get an assurance but no payment. In the interest of maintaining relationship, you continue to deliver services and allow unpaid invoices to pile up. It is now hurting your cash flow.
Sounds familiar? So, how do you treat a customer who wants you to continue delivering services, keeps sending orders your way but does not pay?
With Empathy. Knee jerk reaction would be to go after them, make them suffer as they are doing to you. Right? Absolutely not. Remember, every customer works hard to sustain and grow their business. They chose you because of your capabilities and potential to become a long term partner. If payments are delayed or are intermittent, there must be a reason. Frankly, no customer suddenly wants to drop everything and take a solemn vow to “destroy” you. Empathize with your customer and request open dialog to learn how you can help.
With a partnership intent. Partnership is a two way street. They invited you and gave you the opportunity to be successful. When you stop getting paid, see how you can work with them during times of constraints and adversity. Isn’t it what partners do?
With clear communication. It is important that the customer is aware about how it is impacting your ability to sustain your own business. If you are not in a position to offer services on credit for the time being since you need to invest time elsewhere to maintain cash flow, give them advance notice so they can make alternate arrangements. Never surprise them!
With options. Offer options in form payment plans and renegotiated payment terms. Help them help you get paid while allowing them the much needed relief and support during their time of distress. Show them that you are the person who would stick closer to them in adversity than a friend since you are partner. Work with the customer to ensure an amicable resolution and build upon the relationship that allowed mutual success thus far.
The most successful people and businesses are those who value people and relationships over situations, money, and things! If you take care of your customer and be by their side in thick or thin, they will take care of you.
What would you do if your customer does not pay you?