So you think you have this awesome client. You’ve worked very hard to get their business. Made a dozen phone calls, a hundred emails, met with them three or four times. Took them out to lunch. Stayed late at the office to prepare an incredible proposal. They’re big, they may have multiple locations and you want them.

Well you got them. Congratulations. On paper you’re income sheet will look quite healthy. You’re now thinking of hiring another technician and buying a new truck.  Who knows, you might move to a better location now. Things are starting to look up for you.

One year later…they pay 60-90 days out. Sometimes 120 days or more. They complain all the time. They call and expect you there within five minutes. You moved around your “lesser” important accounts to make this client happy to find out the person complaining is not there to point out the problem or they’ve left for the day. Your office staff complains to you that they’re being mistreated by this client. Your technician says the same thing. Your other customers are now complaining that you’re running late which never happened before. Ugh…!!

You’re now at the corner of “keeping them or cancelling them”.

You’d like to keep them as they’re a marquee account. It’s impressive to have them as your customer. This account can help catapult you to the next big client. I’m sure they’ll eventually pay and when they do, it’s going to be a big one.

You’d also like to cancel them. They gnaw at you. When it’s them calling, you cringe. When the mail comes, you’re praying that their check’s here. They disrespect your office and technicians. You go home thinking of them. Can’t sleep. No appetite. Not in the mood to play with the kids nor are you paying attention to your spouse.

So when is enough enough??

I feel just like any relationship (personal or business), there has to be a give and take attitude. I will give you the best service I can if you can pay me on time and give us some respect. Can’t be done you say?

I have some suggestions. It isn’t for everyone, but it works for us.

  1. Tell them how you feel.
    1. Call them and say “Please understand that I have the utmost respect for you and your company. So please treat us with that same mutual respect. I know you might be frustrated with this pest issue, but so are we. We too are upset and we’ll do everything we can to make you happy.” Being kind and sympathetic will almost make them feel guilty for having you bring up the subject in the first place.
  1. You deserve to be paid on time.
    1. You don’t for free and nor do they. Simply ask that they pay you within 30 days after receiving your invoice. Offer them a small discount if they pay on time. For example, offer them 10% for net 15 days or 5% for net 30 days. Wouldn’t you rather give a little up to get your receivables back on track? Believe me, this outweighs any collection calls you might make. It’s not worth the headache.

When all else fails, then it’s probably time to let go.

Write a cordial yet professional letter giving them a 30 day notice to cancel service (unless you’re bound by another contract). Simply state that you’ve appreciated the opportunity to work for them; however, at this time it best that you both part ways. Kindly ask that all open invoices be paid in full within that 30 day time frame.

Believe me, no one wants to cancel an account. Especially a big one.

You have to look at the bigger picture. Yes you lost that big account, but look at what you’ve gained:

  • You’re much more happier
  • Your staff is happier
  • You can focus on those clients that appreciate you and pay you on time
  • You now have the freedom to get more business

Remember, it’s the little guys that helped build your business in the first place. No large account can replace them.