In times of slow sales, chances are at least some of your customers are paying late—or not at all. And that probably includes a number of valued accounts.
It’s always tricky collecting from deadbeats, but it’s trickier when dealing with customers that have been loyal in the past. The company may be going through a rough patch and by being too aggressive, you could risk permanently damaging the relationship.
Many small businesses face this issue. They’re concerned these valued customers will leave – and they were hard-won in the first place - if they take too hard a stance.
It may be tempting to have some heart and let it go. It's not an unfamiliar situation for many to have a late payment or two on their record, even if it’s a student loan. So tread lightly, but don’t take excuses as valid reasons for slacking on payments.
Before you do anything else, you need to determine whether it’s worth bending over backwards for the client. You may discover, for example, that, while some customers have done business with you for quite a while, they’ve had a long record of late payment. But someone who’s been a consistent source of referrals is probably worth keeping.
Most important is figuring out the future duration of the customer. That means taking into account everything from how long you’ve been doing business to the amount of their average order. You don’t want to lose what could be a lifelong customer.