Tips for handling late-paying or non-paying pet-sitting clients
In these trying economic times, chances are you've had at leat one or two clients who are paying late—or maybe even not at all. Collecting from non-paying clients can be tricky and the task involves particular tact, especially when dealing with long-time clients.
Below, PSI members share the most effective methods they’ve found for dealing with clients who don’t pay in a timely manner.
You just might find a way to solve your next delinquency dilemma!
“Non-paying clients are rarely an issue for me as I explain my payment policies in detail at the introductory visit. My payment policies are also explained on my Web site and I tell my potential clients to look at my Web site prior to the introductory visit. By presenting my payment policies up front it establishes the importance of my time, services and, most importantly, it weeds out those who do not take me seriously.”
- Colleen, Pittsburgh, PA
“If we don’t have a check on the first visit, we leave an invoice with a self-addressed, stamped envelope (the cost of a stamp is totally worth getting the money). If we don’t receive the payment within five days, we send an e-mail informing the clients how to avoid a late fee. If another five days go by without any word, we e-mail an invoice that includes the late fee. This has worked for us so far. Knock on wood...we’ve never had to take it past the late fee.”
-Jennifer, Durham, NC
“When I’m waiting for a payment that I haven’t received in a timely manner, I will call my client and ask if there is an issue with the ability to pay at this time. I offer to let them make payments to me (if the bill is large). I wait a week before I make this phone call.”
-Karen, Oak Park, CA
“Based on my experiences as a pet-sitting business operator and a credit counselor, I’ve developed some ways to collect slower-paying accounts without hurting business relationships. Assume that the error is yours. What I do is mail or e-mail another invoice with an updated due date assuming that they never received the first one. I attach a note that apologizes for the delay in billing, give a reason for the delay and thank them for their cooperation. I’ve found this is much better for client retention.”
-Jay, Warrensburg, MO
“We’ve found phone calls work best. I have a very friendly office assistant who makes our collection calls. She puts the clients at ease and collects over the phone by credit or debit card. People are busy. If you ask them to mail a check, they know they can put off paying your bill because you won’t send them to collections or foreclose on them. Taking credit/debit cards helps immensely. We usually approach a collection situation with a three-pronged approach: a friendly phone call (leave a message if no answer), followed by a friendly e-mail and finally a friendly letter with a return envelope included.”
-Cathy, Schertz, TX
“A simple, polite phone call almost always does the trick—and the understanding that clients who have an outstanding balance will not be able to use our services again until the balance is brought to zero.”
-Kim, Travelers Rest, SC
“First we e-mail clients and then we call them. If that doesn’t work, we send a formal letter reminding them of the money they owe. If they still don’t pay, we send a formal letter that states that if we do not hear from them within seven business days we will send their account to collections. We almost never get that far, but that usually settles it. If not, off they go. The whole process runs 60 – 90 days.”
-Becky, Alexandria, VA
Have you had to deal with any late-paying or non-paying clients? What strategy has worked best for your business in following up with these clients?