Featured Coaching Training: 7 Proven Principles for Managing Your Accounts Receivable
Too many small business owners continue to extend credit to customers who are late on paying their bills. This series will outline some of the best principles for managing accounts receivable effectively.
Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
PRINCIPLE #3: Invoice Early and Invoice Often
Notable Quotable: “Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life.” -John Wooden (Nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," as head coach at UCLA he won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period. Wikipedia)
Lesson Nugget: To avoid non payments from customers, communicate ahead of time your terms of payment requirements.
Fun Factoid: U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 5.73 million employer firms in the U.S. Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7% of those businesses, and businesses with less than 20 workers made up 89.6%. (http://sbecouncil.org)
- Okay, principle number three: Invoice early and invoice often. Okay so Clay, John Wooden, hall of fame basketball coach here: "Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life," is a notable quotable here from John Wooden. Tell me, what does he mean by "don't let making a living prevent you from making a life," what does he mean by that?
- Well specifically what he's talking about, this is a hall of fame basketball coach. He's talking about people that obsess so much on their career, they can't pursue any aspects of their life. Now just being real, for me as an entrepreneur, I love doing Thrive15. I love it. I love helping you guys, that's what I do. It's my passion. I love it. So for me, I would much rather be recording Thrive15.com trainings and answering your questions than be going out to eat with people, golfing, swimming, doing almost anything outside of hanging out with my kids and my wife. Literally. I just would rather be here helping make great trainings for Thrivers than doing anything else, okay? So for me, that's something I enjoy. You might say, "Well you're a workaholic. You're just, all you're doing is you're working. You're a workaholic." Well that could be true, but I love what I do, right? But there's a lot of people who, don't tell me you love collecting money from clients. Don't say "What I love to do is I love to just, I love to just collect money. I love to just call people and argue about money and do accounts receivable." 'Cause I don't know, maybe we know a guy. Maybe we have a guy who likes to bring the lead pipe and show up and "Hey, boom, Marshall, you owe us some money? Boom. I'm gonna break your leg." Maybe there's guy's like that. But most people don't like collecting money, okay? He's talking about, as we relate it to this particular idea, is that you don't want to make your accounts receivable such an issue that you now can't enjoy your life because when you finish providing the service for the customer, now you have to act as though a bank, without interest, and you run around chasing people down. And you understand a bank, they make money by charging you interest, right? There's no, they're not misleading us there, that's how they make their money. So we need, if you're gonna be a bank, then make your money off collecting money. But if not, stop doing it. Stop having that system. So I want to give an example. There's a college that used to hire me to speak. And every time I would go out to speak at the college, they would say, "Oh, now did we owe you today?" I'm like, "Yeah, we did half down deposit to book the event, and then the other half's due when we're done." "Oh, so could you invoice us?" So I made the mistake, and I actually went through the process of invoicing them. Then guess what happened? I never got paid. And why didn't I get paid? Because it's a major, major university and they owe me $2,500 and it's sitting on the desk, my bill is sitting on the desk of Who-gives-a-crap, and Who-gives-a-crap doesn't give a crap, and they are not gonna pay the bill. And there's no consequence for them not to. If I sue them, if I take legal action, I don't know any lawyer in the world who's gonna help you collect money for less than $2,500. So you're not even gonna get the money back. You know what I'm saying? So we just don't want to be in that situation. Another example. When I had the DJ company back in the day, there was a local high school and I'm not gonna mention The name of the high school. Here we go. You ready for this story, Marshall?
- [Marshall] You know who you are.
- Okay so here we go. So what happened is, the lady, she says, "Oh I'm so sorry we forgot to pay you." Well I had, at that time, to my name, maybe $50. And I had to pay a DJ. So the money would come in every week from the clients, and I would pay the DJs when the money came in. And so I realized, "I'm gonna do this major event for the school, and they're not, they're literally not gonna pay me tonight." And I won't have any money to pay my team. I'm not advocating this but I'm telling you this is how stressful this can get for you. So the lady's like, "I'm sorry I just don't have the money. I just forgot the check. I just forgot it." And this is like every time I worked with them they would say this. But this time in particular we had so many proms out, I literally didn't have the money to make payroll if I couldn't pay people. So I was like "I'm gonna take all of your," you know how basketball teams have chairs they sit on? You played basketball?
- [Clay] Yeah. All the players, you sit on chairs with the team's name on it?
- Sure. So I literally was like, "I'm gonna go ahead and take all the chairs." She goes, "Are you stealing the chairs?" I said "No no, I'm just gonna take all the chairs as collateral for your basketball team, 'cause I know you guys have a game tomorrow. And I'm just gonna take all of your chairs." She's like, "You can't." I'm like, "Well I'm kind of going to." So I took all of their chairs. All the chairs. I mean, for both sides. Put them in my van and I just drove off. Well the lady was calling me the next day, "You have our chairs, you stole them." I said, "Well, we agreed to DJ for you and you kind of stole our DJ service. So the way I look at it is why don't you bring me a check and I'll bring you the chairs?" And that's literally how I got paid. It was the only recourse I had. And I got myself in that situation by setting up these stupid financial terms. Right? And if you're somebody in business right now, and you're setting up these stupid financial terms, and you don't have a massive line of credit that's available, you're gonna put yourself in this situation. You're gonna spend half your week collecting money and half your week doing stuff. And we just have to stop doing that, Marshall. We can't do it!
- So, for the people and Thrivers that are watching, and they are submitting, they're working with a company that they have to submit an invoice. For this principle, what is the invoicing best practice? What do they have to do,
- [Clay] I'm just telling you,
- [Marshall] if they can't get around it?
- Specifically, when you're working with a company, and you, or a client, and they call you and say, "How much is it gonna be for you to be," if you're a home builder, "How much is it gonna be for you to install the pool, to build the house, to deliver the photography, to coach my kids in basketball," whatever the service is. Tell your customer upfront, your payment terms, and say, "Hey, we require an X% deposit to reserve the service or product, an X amount, and we're done." I mean if you sell a product, I go buy stuff all the time at the store, the grocery store, I go buy salad, I go buy lettuce, I buy whatever. I go there, the lady's not going, "Hey, you want to go ahead and pay today? Debit card or credit card?" I go "Oh, could you invoice me for this lettuce? I just wanted to get an invoice." I mean, stop it. We have to move past, and we'll put up the stat on the screen here, but well over 60% of small, of the businesses in the country, the employers are small businesses. And so if you're a small business owner this can kill you. Stop extending credit. Even, think hard about do you even need that customer? I would argue it's even better, there's one home builder I worked with back in the day, and he did home remodeling, and we just literally stopped working with anybody who wanted to invoice ever, period. It was just like, you do debit card or credit card to start, half down. You do debit card or credit card to finish, half down at the end. Once we deliver service, there's no credit. There's no invoicing. There none of that. And it helped his business. And he turned down a lot of stupid, if a client can't afford to pay half down for their deck, and they don't have outside credit with a bank, why are they working with you? You're not a bank. Unless, if you're a bank watching this then just argue back but if not, if you're not a bank, quit being a bank.