In an ideal world, we all like to believe that we can build a new relationship with a client and it well be long lasting, fruitful and never run into trouble, but sadly we don’t operate in an ideal world and the truth is, client relationship can become damaged for a number of reasons, if a client refuses to pay you or your business provides a disappointing service, a relationship may never recover.
It may be that the client is changing the goalposts or you do not have the correct level of expertise to complete a project, it may come to the point where you have to terminate the relationship and fire the client, but what about the money that is still owed to your business?
As with most situations, preparation is the key and unfortunately this preparation involves paperwork. When you entered into a new relationship you should have signed a contract or purchase order with a detailed schedule of work and any payment terms to protect your business if the client doesn’t pay. Try to spread out payments throughout the length of the contract; this will help alert you if a client is struggling to make payments. Of course, you don’t decide to fire a client overnight, it is a decision that requires a lot of thought. There are some steps that you can take if you decide that there is no other option.
- Try to recoup as much as possible or by requesting partial payment. This means there will be less money to fight over later.
- Try to get a written acknowledgement from the client that the work you have done has been completed. If they are requesting a change in the scope of the project, for example adding a blog or online booking system, then make it clear that this was not part of the original agreement and that you have completed all original work as outlined in the contract.
- If you don’t have a contract or statement of work, then try to implement one retrospectively via email.
When the time comes to terminate a relationship then there are some things to keep in mind:
- Don’t get too emotional, the chances are the customer will be upset and if you handle the situation impolitely or unprofessionally then it will only make matters worse.
- If you know of a competitor or other company that may be a more appropriate fit for your client then offer it. Doing so will show that the decision to terminate wasn’t personal.
- Consider offering a settlement discount, doing this gives the client the option to pay the invoice in full at a lower rate. It also means that you can recoup the majority of costs.
At Commercial Domestic Investigations, we understand that your relationships are important, and to terminate one is a big decision. Unfortunately business isn’t always easy and difficult decisions need to be made. If you are having trouble locating former clients or they are avoiding making a payment then don’t hesitate for too long, the longer you leave a debt the more difficult it will be to recover. If you want to find out how we can help your business contact our team on 08444 159200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.