This is a gripe I wrote about a couple of months ago, but it is an issue that has raised it’s head again today.

We have spoke to a customer where we are due to fit a new front door at the back end of the week. However, after calling the customer, they explained they wouldn’t be around at the end of the week to pay as they were on holiday and might be back early next week – when they would pay the final balance. Now is it just me, or is it rude when you know you are having work done and you have a final bill to pay, to not have the funds available when the balance is due?

I know I wouldn’t go sign up for a new car, drive the car away but not have the deposit money ready to hand over. That would be rude. But for whatever reason, I am noticing that customers more and more often are becoming a bit clever about not being available when that final balance is due. This, from speaking with others online, is a story not uncommon, and I think we do have to start getting more rigid with fiscal policies.

For example, most of us take a deposit when we sign the client up. This practise is fine and most consumers expect to pay a deposit of some sort. What we need to do is get it into people’s minds that paying the final balance on the last day of an installation is just as important as it is paying the deposit. They shouldn’t be on holiday without us knowing about it. They must have the funds available ready for when the job is complete. Too many times I’ve had customers tell me that they’re waiting on shares or dividends and that it would be a few weeks before they could pay us! No point telling us now!

As far as I’m concerned, when customers avoid paying, they know exactly what they’re doing. These scenarios don’t happen by accident. We have to be a lot stronger at the point of signing and explain that once the contracted work is complete, then the balance must be paid. Not the day or week after, but on that final day. If there is a problem that needs resolving by all means withhold 5%, but then the rest must be paid. I personally don’t see anything wrong with that.

I don’t buy into this ethos about letting the customer have a few days grace before paying. All professional companies should have done a good job in the first place so shouldn’t need to give the customer a bit of time. Cash flow is important to many of our industry’s small businesses, including the one I work for. Especially when the environment is as competitive as it is.

The customer has a lot of rights already, I don’t think I’m being unreasonable when I say we want to be paid on time.