Businesses spend much time and energy marketing their services to clients that it may seem odd for a manager or owner to even consider turning work down.
Yet there are times when you should say no to a client.
In the collections industry, particularly in light of the regulatory role being taken in April by the Financial Conduct Authority, record keeping is sure to become ever more important.
So the first doubts when you are approached by a client with a view to recovering a debt might emerge if you discover there is no paper trail for the unpaid account.
A word of mouth deal may have suited both parties at the time it was agreed, but it’s not a wise basis on which to engage in formal attempts to recover outstanding money.
Credit reports under the Data Protection Act may also reveal awkward facts that raise doubts about the cost and wisdom of pursuing a particular case.
It’s not always a new client whose business is turned away.
In January 2013, business advice website is4profit.com, reported on a poll by YouGov of Barclays Bank, that found more than a fifth of UK small and medium-sized businesses have turned down repeat business to avoid having to deal with late payers.
Over a million UK small businesses subject to late payments were owed, according to figures from BACS bank payment schemes, a total of £36 billion.
Research by BACS showed that 47% of small businesses who suffer late payers have at least three late payments a year from their worst offenders.
To invest energy, money and time in chasing an account and recovering sums owing, only for a client to indulge in delaying tactics when the invoice is presented is hardly a good way to conduct a business.
Of course, there are tactful ways of saying no to business. In the context of contracting in the technology sector, there’s useful advice in an article by Meredith Little on the TechRepublic website from 2000.
She also points out that late payment is a good reason for turning down a project. But, she notes, you might wish to be available for the client in the future.
Why not, she says, try this line: ‘This looks like a wonderful project, but I’m booked for (choose the option most suitable for that client: two weeks, six months, the foreseeable future, a really long time). If you need some help at that time with this or another project, please get in touch with me.’
Well, it’s worth a try.
Of course, most clients will have the records to back up their legitimate claims. SJ Collections offers professional debt recovery services and takes pride in adhering to the highest standards of the collections industry. Should your business need help, please do get in touch.