With the economy the way it is, we’ve been seeing more and more customers struggling to pay their parts bills. So, what’s the best way to ask for your money?
First, there’s no cookie cutter way to deal with customers and their money woes. Because, of this you have to know your customers and how to communicate with them. Most of us at one time or another have been unable to pay a bill and wished that the person on the other end of the phone had a little understanding and even some compassion for our situation.
Much to the frustration of many a parts person, some customers will run up their bills to a point where you can’t allow them to charge any more. Usually when it gets to this point, the customer will be asked to pay for the product you send to them cash on delivery or (COD), assuming someone in the organization has contacted the customer in question to inform them that they will be asked to pay (COD).
This will create one of two situations:
Scenario One: Sending a product out COD to a customer who has previously charged the product will be an indicator for the customer that they should pay the bill they owe you. However, before you do this, you should be sure to have done the due diligence in communicating with the customer, making them aware that you are no longer able to allow them to charge anymore product. The customer will pay and continue to pay down their bill until you’re able to accommodate the extension of credit once again.
Scenario Two: (The most likely, by the way): Sending the product out (COD) will upset the customer to the point that they will quit buying product from you and go to the competition to buy products and most likely pay them (COD) in order to do so.
No one in my past 25 years of experience has been able to explain the psyche of the latter event and why a customer who owes you money will quit buying from you and pay cash down the road simply because you have asked them to pay you what they owe to you. So, what’s the appropriate way to ask for your money?
Be kind: Ask as compassionately as possible. “I know times are tough. Is there any way you could pay for this today until we can get a payment in on your account?”
Be understanding: Understand that customers are people, too. “Man, I am having trouble paying my $600 light bill this month, too. It’s hard but is there anyway you can pay something on your bill today so we can send this part down to you?”
Be the leader: Ask as the leader of the group, but don’t demand. “Hey, we would like to keep your business and I will do everything I can to work with you on this account. Can you meet me in the middle?”
As always, consult your company’s guidelines on this issue. They may already offer suggestions for how to handle situations like these.