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  • Grinding back when good clients start to Grind

  • Craig Seeman

    June 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I know you love stories so . . .

    A client of many years is rebranding so decides to rebrand a TV spot we did 6 years ago.

    Over the years they always paid in the usual thirds and always payment completed by delivery. Often, once the spot is completed, it’s just a compression and file upload for cable distribution and a small bill so we started invoicing for those. They’d usually pay within a few days. The last time we did this days became months and email reminders were ignored (claimed he though they were spam). He finally paid when it came time to do the rebranding work.

    The work on the first spot is done. They’ve approved the online watermarked version and it’s time for delivery and I send them a PayPal bill so they can pay hassle free immediately. They have an urgent file delivery for a media buy. They responded to the PayPal bill by saying they’d pay “soon.” A day later they ask why haven’t I delivered as the cable network has contacted them. I asked to please make PayPal payment as we can’t deliver final product (already viewed and approved by client) until we get payment.

    So they respond that person to make payment is watching a sporting event and don’t I trust them for payment. This is urgent, so they say. This after they took months to pay the last small bill.
    I explained that PayPal only takes a few moments (they’re not new to this).

    As a small business we don’t want to invest resources into trying to collect especially when the previously good client already did this recently.

    IMHO if clients expect urgent delivery they should expect to pay with equal expedience.

    It’s sad when a client of many years changes their payment behavior but when they do, we must change our billing procedure. I may lose the client but I have to weigh that against months of trying to collect. This is especially so when the client is paying on delivery (no partial payment) and want to pay AFTER delivery when we have no collateral to hold.

    We’ve all know about grinders but the “new” paradigm to look out for is that clients who weren’t grinders may become such and each of us may need to draw a line to demark when that happens.

  • Mark Suszko

    June 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    If you are afraid to lose a client that technically hasn’t/isn’t paying already, what exactly is there TO lose? More of no money!?!? Heavens forbid!

    Stick to your guns, Craig. Character is who you are in the dark.

  • Todd Terry

    June 23, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    [Craig Seeman] “So they respond that person to make payment is watching a sporting event”

    Love that.

    My response would be “What a coincidence! The person who will do your upload happens to be watching that same event, too. I guess we’ll sort it out when the game is over.”

    I love it when excuses are pushed so far beyond the laughable point.

    Stick to it.

    T2

    __________________________________
    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
    fantasticplastic.com

  • Craig Seeman

    June 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Exactly Mark. EXACTLY. It’s not even worth the time to send out reminder notices in my opinion. I’d even trust the client given the longevity of the relationship except that he’s already stalled on a previous small bill. Only paid when he actually had more work to do.

    I do not want to foster the practice of “we’ll pay our previous bill at the time we have more work to give you.” It’s not the proper cash flow for a viable business model. When a client’s solution to the current economy is that kind of bill payment that’s my “line of demarcation” for when they become “grinder.” No client ever should hold your business ransom on payment.

  • Craig Seeman

    June 23, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    So client sends email saying they’ll call me later.

    Why, so they can tell me some story about why they can’t pay a small bill immediately? If they can send me an email they could have made PayPal payment in the same cyber breath. If they had an excuse they could have emailed that for what it’s worth.

    BTW another thing clients can do is chew up your time in back and forth unnecessary conversations. One has to measure time in total in figuring the value of the work. I have other work to do and I may not be able to talk to him at his convenience on what I consider and unpaid bill at this point.

  • Mark Suszko

    June 23, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    My response would be “What a coincidence! The person who will do your upload happens to be watching that same event, too. I guess we’ll sort it out when the game is over.”

    Maybe they can pay by vuvuzela?:-)

  • Craig Seeman

    June 23, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    [Mark Suszko] “Maybe they can pay by vuvuzela?:-)”

    That’s what I play into the phone when the client calls.

  • Ron Lindeboom

    June 23, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    [Craig Seeman] “We’ve all know about grinders but the “new” paradigm to look out for is that clients who weren’t grinders may become such and each of us may need to draw a line to demark when that happens.”

    As you said, Craig, your usual “billing thirds” were met by this erstwhile client — but when they departed from that rule, I think it safe to say that is when they crossed the line into being a grinder.

    They confirmed their new status when they ignored your bills for a paltry amount.

    They locked their new grinder status into concrete when they used one of the oldest tricks in the book — the ever predictable “we need it now, it’s an emergency” crapola — and refused to pay before delivery.

    When people try that one on me, I tell them straight out: “I have an emergency too, I have bills that are coming due.”

    I also point them to my article “Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours” and tell them to read it. They get the point.

    Best regards,

    Ron Lindeboom
    CEO, CreativeCOW.net

    Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.

    Graveyards are full of people the world couldn’t do without.

  • Craig Seeman

    June 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    [Ron Lindeboom] “They confirmed their new status when they ignored your bills for a paltry amount. “

    Yes, and it’s best to stop that tendency in the client when it’s paltry because the next time it may be a bigger. It’s best to implement “behavior modification” immediately.

    [Ron Lindeboom] “When people try that one on me, I tell them straight out: “I have an emergency too, I have bills that are coming due.” “

    I sent them a polite email in response to their “emergency” that the business has equipment maintenance and supply expenses so we cannot work under “payment after delivery” business model.

    That their only response was “call you later” seems to redefine the meaning of “emergency.”

  • Steve Kownacki

    June 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    [Craig Seeman] “that person to make payment is watching a sporting event”

    Hmmmm… I think the Pres of BP was watching a sporting event too. Maybe it’s a trend.

    Steve

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