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Bad Debt Defined

The follwoing gives you an in-depth look at a Thrive15.com training on bad debt with Clay Clark & Caleb Taylor. See what else you can learn from one of the most affordable business schools in Florida at Thrive15.com!

Caleb:             Clay, I love sitting next to you and I know that you often use words like sick, and nasty, and bad, to describe things that you love, which are awesome.  Right?

Clay:                Yeah.

Caleb:             Today, we're defining bad debt.  Does that mean you like this?

Clay:                Well the song that comes to my mind is Bad by Michael Jackson.  And so I'm just ... this is you talking.  I don't know what you just said for the first 30 seconds, but I was in my mind humming the song Bad.

Caleb:             Good.  Okay, well, we're going to go ahead.  What we're doing here is we're taking 5 minutes to define different accounting terms for you.  The one that we are tackling right now is bad debt.  All right, so, the definition that we have for bad debt is money owed for a business debt that cannot be collected.  It can be deducted as an operating expense.  So what does that mean?  The second part is a little bit confusing.  The first part sounds clear.

Clay:                Okay, well what's happening is you have money that is owed to you, but the person who is trying to pay you, they can't.  So a lot of times, if you're in business ... This is a horrible story and I'm trying to teach you these things because I want you to learn from me and say "you are an idiot."  Hopefully, you'll feel like, if that idiot can have a successful business, I can too.

                        There was a local school, not in this area, but other areas, where I went out and I committed to DJ for their prom and their winter ball and all these different dances.  Every single time, every time, I would go and DJ for them, they would never pay me.

Caleb:             Never?

Clay:                Never.  Every time.  So I'm DJ'ing for this mega school.  One of the biggest schools in our area and every time, they owe me like $1,200.  This is why my wife and I are living without air conditioning.

Caleb:             You kept going back?

Clay:                I went the first time and the lady was like "I am sorry.  We just don't have a check tonight, but if you come back on Monday, I can get you paid."  I go back on Monday.  "I am so sorry.  She's not here today.  Could you come back."  I called the school voice mail.  I'd call the school and they would say "Oh, I'm sorry.  She's out today."  I'd leave a voice mail.  No return call.  Well then I have another dance coming up the next week because we've got this cheerleading ball thing and we've got this other event.  So now I have two events.  So I never got paid.  I'm thinking I've got to go do the next one.  I've got to get paid something.  So I do the second event.  Now I'm owed like $2,400.  My wife and I have no cash.  Now here's the problem.  I had to pay somebody to help me do the event.  So I owe $800 to my employees and I have not brought in $2,400.

Caleb:             This bad debt does not seem good at all.

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Clay:                So then I start calling the school.  And finally they said that such-and-such was not authorized to ever book with you.  Dumb.

Caleb:             Dumb.  So why do we need to be focusing on this topic right now though.

Clay:                Because that is what happens.  I kept holding out belief all year that they would pay me, they would pay me, they would pay me.  Finally I went to the school and talked to the people and they said we will never pay you.  We did not authorize it.  That's bad debt.  But you know what you can do?  You can deduct it as an operating expense.

Caleb:             There's the second part of that.

Clay:                You know.  You can go ahead and take it off your taxes.  You know, you can write it off.  I'm like "are you kidding me?"  This is a secret confession.  I took the chairs that the players on their basketball team sat on as collateral.  So I had one of their chairs in my office for years and I had several other chairs.  Basically, all of the chairs I gave away to my friends.

Caleb:             That probably still didn't equal $2,000.

Clay:                That's something I did.  I no longer would do that, but that's something I did.

Caleb:             It cannot be recommended to you to go about that, but that's a good story.

Clay:                But the thing is, it might be bad debt.  But to me, it was good debt.

Caleb:             Thank you Clay.  I love, love, love story-time with Clay.

Clay:                All you need is love, buddy.

Caleb:             Oh wow.  All you need is love.

Clay:                Love is all you need.

Caleb:             So wait.  A practical action step for me right now.  How do I better identify bad debt when I see it?

Clay:                When you talk to a customer, you want to get a pulse as to whether that person is a real human.

Caleb:             Good.

Clay:                I never met this person face-to-face.  I never did any background.

Caleb:             The smell test.

Clay:                I never ask her, "hey, what organization are you with?"  I seriously had a rogue teacher that was just booking mythological events because she wanted to be a great sponsor.  I can't make this crap up.  This is my life.  It's sad.

Caleb:             Good.  But we're doing this so that your life isn't sad, you know.  We appreciate you telling us your stories, but make sure you don't do business with somebody ending in bad debt.  You've got to check and make sure that person has a pulse and you can actually do business with you.

Clay:                Now I wish I would have learned from that experience, but over the years, I did a party for the Yucatan Liquor Stand.  "Yucatan Liquor Stand, yea, yea."  The Club Millennium.  I did one for the Cronies.

Caleb:             All that is bad debt, huh?

Clay:                All the people who have never paid me.

Caleb:             Don't do that guys.

Clay:                If you are associated with cronies, you come here and pay me.

Caleb:             Or he'll take your chairs.

Clay:    I'll take your ... you know.  They didn't have any chairs I could take.

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