When it comes to companies that owe you money there are two basic types, those who won’t pay and those who can’t pay. With a company that can pay, but won’t, either because they are unhappy with the work or simply want to get away without paying, it’s best to act quickly. If a company is attempting to cheat or defraud you, your best course of action is to send them to a collection agency, as quickly as possible. However, if a company wants to pay you but is having a cash flow or other financial problem, you may want to consider making a deal.
The first step in deciding whether or not to consider a deal is to get a thorough understanding of the nature of the company’s financial problems. Ideally, you would start to notice signs of financial problems with a company before the invoice was due. That way you could be prepared and even discuss the problem before the payment is late. But, if an invoice is going unpaid, especially from a formerly trusted client, you may want to get on the phone and find out what’s going on. It’s likely that your contact in Accounts Payable, or on your project, will not be willing, or able, to share the full scope of the issue. In this case, you’ll want to speak with an executive or owner, someone qualified and able to share details.
The most compelling reason to make a deal is if a deal is the only way you’ll receive any of the money that you’re owed. If a company is on the verge of bankruptcy or closure, a deal may be your only choice for getting paid. If, however, the company is experiencing a temporary cash flow problem or is likely to rebound, you may want to negotiate a new payment date and add fees or interest. Be careful though, plans to recover from a financial problem are never a sure thing. By agreeing to wait to be paid you could wind up losing the short window of time in which you could be paid. Once a company goes to bankruptcy you are unlikely to ever recoup your money.
Deciding when, how, or whether to make a deal for owed money is complicated. Most people simply do not have the legal or professional expertise to know when it is and isn’t a good idea. That’s why we always recommend consulting with a professional commercial collection agency. A reputable commercial collection agency is trained to get you more of the money you are owed than you can on your own and can save you time and irritation. If you have an account that you’re considering making a deal on, give us a call first.