All sorts of interesting stuff comes across the desk of the small business owner. Odd requests a plenty. “Waive the sales tax, can’t you discount this, can you review 500 of my images for free……?” Well, those are just a few examples.
There’s one particular request that I no longer entertain, and frankly it’s an annoying one. What is it?
The request to do the work for a client, provide a product, and get paid later. I’ve done it a few times, and each time I’ve been burned. Carrying balance for folks for months on end…… Yeah, mistake. But I’ve learned from the mistake and won’t soon make it again.
When you provide services and products prior to payment you really set yourself up. And you end up taking on the role of a bank or creditor. Really, small businesses have no room to act as the bank you know. Most of us need to see a bank for a small business loan, but in this market we wouldn’t get very far. So why is it so many clients feel comfortable in asking us to take on the role of a bank? I don’t know, and I don’t do that with any vendor I deal with.
Lately what I’ve been telling folks is simple. If you use MPix or any other online reproduction house, you pay up front. Upload your images, size them, select your paper type, punch in your billing and shipping address, and then provide your credit card information. You’re billed right then and there, and it shows up pretty quickly on your statement. Let’s face it. Your order takes away supplies and time from the business immediately. How long should they wait for payment?
So, yesterday I got what could be an amazing order. A good bit of canvas. But the client’s client (I think you can follow that) is a well to do business concern that likes to pay after receipt. So this morning I’ve got to call the client and let them know, I can’t do the job without payment up front. Burned once to often, and I can’t act as a bank on behalf of a well to do business concern. If they’re well to do, why would they ask a small business to act as bank?
Good question I think…….
In the end, I might not get this print job over this, but doing a big print job, shipping the product off many states away, and then hoping payment comes just doesn’t sound like the smartest business move anyway. It’s only a valuable job when the money gets deposited into that business account, right?