The question: “How can I avoid finishing the job and the home owner has ‘disappeared’ before paying me?“
Jeff’s answer: “Your office should tactfully but clearly deal with this ‘client bailing out’ possibility up-front during the initial booking phone call.“
I liked the simple way to tactfully ask to get paid you taught us in the VAST seminar. But what can I do when my customer says, “I’m going to just run out to the store and I’ll be back before you leave.” And of course I get done and no customer! Then my boss gets irritated when I show up without a check and he has to bill the home owner. Any ideas?
Bummed in Baltimore
Wow, Bummed! I know making the Cheerleader is your new goal after the VAST seminar. But if you don’t get paid it doesn’t feel quite so good! (And NO CHECK feels even worse for your boss!).
During the VAST seminar we teach that if you keep getting hit with the same business problems again and again then you face one of two issues. Either…
1. You have systems that aren’t working and need to be adjusted OR…
2. Someone isn’t following the system!
In this case it sounds like #1 as in the company you work for needs to fine-tune their internal systems. Which should start with your phone format that guides how the job is booked.
Let’s examine the various circumstances where the “I’m just going to run out for a bit” scenario could occur.
#1 Situation: A regular client has to step out while you’re still cleaning.
Solution: With regular Cheerleaders you normally shouldn’t have a problem getting paid. You have their trust. (Which is why they feel comfortable leaving you by yourself for a few minutes while they run an errand. So don’t go through their underwear drawer!) And likely your company trusts these long term clients.
#2 Situation: A first time customer (or even worse a rental move-out!) say’s “I just need to run an errand” while you’re still cleaning.
Solution: In this second situation it is best to nicely but firmly insist on payment before they leave. They could be planning to delay payment or even worse rip your company off. But either way here is how to tweak your company’s systems.
1. When the job is booked the phone person scheduling the job should make it clear that payment is due upon completion of the job. Your phone dispatcher should also ask up-front: “So what form of payment will you be using?” This can be a credit card, check or cash. (If they want to be billed for the job that needs to be approved by the office).
2. Especially on rental move-outs your phone employee should also tactfully mention if for some reason they need to leave while the job is in process payment will be expected before they leave. Then the technician will simply leave the receipt, the office will follow up afterwards with an “Immediate Quality Check Call” and of course they will be covered under our famous “100% delighted guarantee”!)
But even after all the phone preparation emergencies happen and it can’t be planned for. In this case when they tell you “I need to step out” you should simply mention, “Great! But you know, it is hard to predict exactly how long the job will take me to finish up. Since we already know what the final bill is could we take care of the paperwork just in case you’re delayed?” This kind (and very logical) request shouldn’t be a surprise because the office will have already discussed it with the customer.
If all this is handled tactfully on the phone (or in the worst case scenario by you the tech) it should be a rare occurrence that you don’t get paid.
PS Remember Bummed, that if your company does water damage losses things get a lot more complicated. For example, check out HERE what our legal consultant shared with this Minnesota restoration contractor. Or go HERE to see lots of restoration advice.