Non-paying customers create frustration and put your temporary staffing business at risk. You rely on these payments for your staffing agency cash flow to cover your expenses and pay your people for their services.
So how should you deal with these difficult situations? If you let frustration seep into the conversations with customers who are late with their payments, you’ll just make it worse for both parties.
Here are four things every temporary staffing firm should know when it comes to nonpaying customers:
Watch for Trends
The more you keep an eye on payment histories and the details of the relationship with your customers, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with problems when they arise.
Take the mystery out of situations by paying attention to when customers pay, how they pay and when the routine changes. If a customer paid its invoice in January, February and March, missed in April and then paid in May and June, ask what happened in April. It’s a lot easier to examine the problem when it happens than to have to go back in time, so stay on top of it.
Before you get too frustrated with a customer who hasn’t paid, make sure you’re not the cause of the problem. If you’ve changed the way you handle invoices, modified the procedure by which customers make payments or made some other change in protocol, there could be another explanation for why you’re missing a payment.
Communication is a crucial part of any good relationship. Regular contact allows you to discuss changes and keep everybody abreast of what’s happening with your company from an operational perspective. If you keep the lines of communication open, customers have a means to raise concerns and everyone stays connected. So do what you can to keep those lines open, and if they’re not, consider whether that could be a factor when problems arise.
If you have a customer who is delinquent in making payments, find a way to get the person on the phone for a calm, rational conversation to discuss the situation. Try to find out what the problem is that is creating late payments and discuss possible solutions.
Your team members need to know what to do in these situations so they don’t get angry with customers. You can’t be there to take every call and you need to have confidence that your staff can resolve difficult situations.
Above all, create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming to you if they get into a tough spot. Better to take a little time at the front end to help than have someone make a mistake and have to do damage control later.
Make the Tough Call
If you have customers who are routinely behind, consider putting them on a tighter leash by asking them to deliver payment directly to your office. Show you’re serious about it and that you’re not going to let the status quo continue.
At some point, you may feel that you’ve gone as far as you can in your effort to help a customer, yet the problem persists. At this point, you may need to deliver an ultimatum that, without an immediate payment, you’re not going to be able to provide any more services. With some customers, more drastic action is required, and if you feel you’ve made an honest, good-faith effort to help, you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking this step.