How to Handle a Slow Paying Commercial Client

How to Handle a Slow Paying Client
Slow paying clients can be a major problem for companies; consuming time, resources and jeopardizing the financial stability of many small and medium sized businesses. Like it or not, the current recession and slow recovery have forced many businesses to live from invoice to invoice. A late payment can have a negative effect, forcing the company to delay payroll or critical supplier payments.

The best way to handle a slow paying client is to prevent the situation from happening in the first place. It's a lot more effective to spend your resources ensuring clients pay on time, rather than chasing slow payers. This can be accomplished fairly easily.

There are two things you need to do to make sure commercial clients pay one time.
First, you need to check their commercial credit rating / payment history - and only give credit terms to those that have an acceptable credit report. This can be done by using one of the many business credit bureaus that exist. Most reports are relatively inexpensive.
Second, you need to have a good invoicing and follow up procedure in place. This will take some work but will have a substantial payoff. Be sure to send invoices to clients in a timely fashion and be sure to verify that they received the invoice.

If your clients won't pay their invoices sooner, your second option is to finance your invoices using invoice factoring. The factoring financing advance can be used to cover your business expenses, while you wait for your clients to pay. The transaction with the factoring company is settled once your client pays the invoice in full.

Factoring has two advantages. First, it can improve your finances, especially when combined with a good invoice management program. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it gives you control of your cash flow, eliminating the guesswork of when clients will pay. This enables business owners to spend more time running their business and less time chasing invoices.

Qualifying for factoring is relatively easy. You need to have clients with a good commercial credit rating and good invoicing practices. Additionally, your company has to be free of encumbrances.


By Marco Terry
Image by Agnieszka Pastuszak - Maksim


How to Follow Up Your News Releases and Story Pitches

Can you remember a story idea you pitched a year ago that resulted in no news coverage of any kind?
If so, how quickly could you respond if a reporter called you today wanting to cover the story? Would you start groping for words, or asking questions like "Who did you say you wanted to interview?" Or would you be ready, on a second's notice?
Sound ludicrous? Well, it happened to publicist Jill Lublin, who knew how to handle it, and it can happen to you, too.
A few years ago, Jill pitched an idea about one of her clients, a professional speaker, to Meeting Planner magazine. Despite several follow-ups, she never got a response.
"Then one year later--count 'em--365 days later, I got a call and this reporter said, 'Yes, we want to do the story, and by the way, tomorrow. Are you ready?' And of course the answer is yes, you're always ready when the media calls."
That's valuable advice regarding follow-ups. Never assume a story pitch is dead.
Jill, co-author of the book Buerrilla Publicity," also says:
When following up, remember The Rule of 7. That means you should follow up seven times, using a combination of phone calls and emails, before you stop contacting journalists. But always be ready in case they call you.
Never follow up on routine news releases announcing things like promotions or awards you've won, or they'll view you as a pest. Your efforts are better spent following up on larger stories you have pitched.
When following up, concentrate on benefits. Explain how the idea you are pitching is the solution to a problem--and do it quickly, in fewer than 30 seconds.
When you call or email, don't say, "Did you get my press release?" or "I'm following up on a call I made two weeks ago." Jill says: "I typically will say, 'I sent you some information.' That's my code word for press release. What I have found when talking to the media is they hate when you call them up and say, 'Did you get the press release?' What they love is for you to talk about the information in terms of how it can be readily used by them, and why they would care. Really. That's the bottom line. Why would they care?"
When following up, never, ever ask a reporter to alert you when the story is printed, or to send you a certain number of copies of the story. It's your job to monitor the publications, then call the circulation department and order however copies you want. Expect to pay for them.
Jill shared dozens more tips for follow-ups during a live teleseminar in 2003 called Failproof Ways to Follow Up After Sending a News Release or Pitch Letter."

By Joan Stewart
Image by Nick Thompson



Collecting Client Testimonials: The Before & After Template

Collecting Client Testimonials Using the Before/After Template

Getting feedback is so crucial to your long-term business success as you need to know that you are providing the information/services that your clients and customers want, when they want it, and in the way that they want it.

There are several different ways and different types of testimonials that you'll be wanting to get:
-  Feedback from your one-on-one clients about working with you
-  Testimonials from your one-on-one clients for you to add to your website
-  Testimonials from your customers (those people who buy your products) for you to add to your sales pages

-  Testimonials from your newsletter subscribers for you to add to your sign-up page

-  ....and then there is the market research that you constantly need to be doing so that you know you are providing exactly what it is your clients and customers wants.

For this article let's take a look at how to get testimonials from your one-on-one clients to add to your website.

Testimonials (or Rave Reviews/Success Stories/Raving Fans... whatever you want to call them) from your clients are one of the things a visitor to your site will look for. They want to know that you are the person who can solve their problems, and a way for them to know this is by reading what you've already done for other people. It makes them feel comfortable that they're making the right decision by working with you and handing over their money to you. In other words, you're making it easy for them to make their decision.

However, in order for your testimonials to be effective they have to be results-based - what was it you did for your clients? What benefits did they receive in working with you?

You want your testimonials to sell for you!

The best way of achieving this is to use the before and after template. You want your clients to tell you about the problems they were experiencing before they started working with you, and what happened after they started working with you. Then add these testimonials to your website!

The best way of getting this information from your clients is to create a template to send to them once you've finished your work together. Build it into your Client & Contact Management System so that it is sent automatically. If your client is a longer-term client, once they've been working with you for a period of three to four months, send it to them then asking them to document their results so far.

Gathering client testimonials is a crucial part of your business success... make sure you have a system in place to support this.

By Tracey Lawton
Image by Kristina Afanasyeva

Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches online solo service professionals how to create the essential online marketing and office organization systems needed so that they can create a more streamlined, systemized, and automated online business. Check out for how-to articles, resources, tips, and tools, and sign up for your "Office Organization Success Toolkit".


Client Retention Strategy: Keeping Clients on the Books

Client Retention Strategy: Keeping Clients Around


What type of client retention strategy does your small business have? Is client retention an area where you have let business be business? If so, you will want to rethink this. Research proves that it is more expensive for a company to search for new clients than it is to keep the ones they have coming back for their goods and services. Now you are asking yourself how to do that. Client retention  is usually inexpensive but requires thought and often time. That is what clients expect of you- to know that you are thinking of them and that you value their business.

In times when everyone is cutting back and budgets are tightening,  client retention strategy planning is growing in importance to your business. In order to develop a plan that will work for your company you need to ask yourself one pertinent question, "What can you do as the owner of the business to keep current clients happy and coming back?"

Client Retention Strategy

Constant Contact: There is an email program called constant contact that helps business owners keep in touch with clients. This is one way to handle keeping in touch with clients but there are many others too. Take time each season to call clients and touch bases. Often these calls may lead to business as they will have some project they are working on that involves you. Lunch dates can be very inexpensive but this method opens the door to reaching your client on a much more personal level.

Keep In The Loop: This is done by networking and attending events sponsored by local business groups. When clients see you interacting with other clients of theirs this often send a message of goodwill which will only help in retaining clients. Newsletters are a great way to your name and the firm in the minds of clients also. Anything you can do to keep your name top of mind will only benefit client retention.

Make certain deals for only repeat clients. Advertised specials that eliminate repeat clients often turn away some. Make sure with all advertised specials that you offer rewards for new clients as well as returning clients.

Good clients like to be remembered and surprised. When out and about stop in with a tray of cookies or loaves of bread to snack on from other local small businesses. If you see an order being processed for a client you have not talked to lately throw in a hand written note to let them know they are on your mind.

Make sure your records are current and that you have a full list of clients past and present. A detailed log of contacts helps in keeping track of them and can instantly obtain their information when needed.

Take time to listen to your clents. Remembering information about them, their families and their businesses will show that you care.

Communication is the key in client in retention strategies no matter what business industry you are in. If you maintain client contact and abide my ethical business practices you are well on your way to having a client retention strategy that works for you.

By Kevin Germain
Image by Fotum


Networking and Gratitude: 4 Tips to Make Your Networking Count

Networking and Gratitude

Savvy networkers can improve their networking through soft skills. Being aware and sensitive to others, displaying etiquette and showing gratitude are just a few ways. Online resources define gratitude as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Research and studies have shown that expressing gratitude improves health, increases optimism and reduces stress. It is only right that gratitude be incorporated into business practices including networking.

Listed below are basic skills for building and strengthening your gratitude quotient.

Before the Event

Before you register or RSVP for a networking event, make a list of people, companies or connections you would like to make. Discern the best ways of approaching these individuals and companies. Sharpen your language and communication skills and do extra research if necessary. Be prepared with plenty of business cards or marketing material to reinforce your brand and message. Visualize a positive outcome for meeting these potential customers, clients or colleagues. Be grateful for the opportunity to attend the event and further your networking objectives and goals.


At the Event

Arrive early to the event or function with a strong networking focus. Polish your soft skills and be prepared to make introductions or properly introduce yourself. Deliver an excellent 30 second speech or elevator pitch. Be a good listener and ask engaging questions. Show an interest in others and meet as many people as possible. Re-connect with individuals during the event and follow up with new connections before leaving the function. Verbally express thanks and appreciation for spending time conversing and connecting.


After the Event

Collect and prioritize business and social contacts made at the event. Respond and follow up in a professional and timely manner. Use different methods of connecting and building relationships via phone, social media, email or correspondence. Communicate thoughtful and genuine messages for establishing quality and meaningful relationships. Make it a point to personally and professionally connect with counterparts and open the door for further opportunities.

A Few Weeks After the Event

Continue to stay connected and add value to the relationships. Reach out to your counterparts but do not sell or promote yourself, your business or your agenda. Use this occasion, as an opportunity to show gratitude while learning more about your counterparts. Find strategic ways of assisting, supporting and developing. Offer to meet up for a coffee or one-on-one, or schedule a conference or video call to touch base.

By Chi Chi Okezie

Chi Chi Okezie is owner/producer of SIMPLEnetworking, LLC in Atlanta, GA. Learn tips, tactics and techniques from this Champion Networker! Visit the SN Official Website:  to read excerpts of her books, listen to the latest radio podcasts and visit her blog!



10 Reasons to Have a Killer Elevator Speech


It is my firm belief that virtually every person in business for her- or himself needs a killer elevator speech. Yes, that means you, too. Wondering why a killer elevator speech is so important? See if you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios:

1. You want a great response to the question "what do you do?" because you've noticed when you reply that you're a consultant, the conversation stops right there, the other person's eyes start to glaze over, and you start to panic because you don't know how to revive this conversation without saying something that you know is guaranteed to put your listener to sleep, and in your heart you know that very few people want to be "educated" about insurance, investment opportunities, or anything else a consultant is selling.

2. You want a clear, concise and wildly attractive (as in magnetic) value message that you can use in your sales presentations, on your web site, in the voice mail messages you leave, in your own voice mail greeting, on your business cards, and when you introduce yourself so that you stand out from your competitors.

3. You want to attract clients to you rather than chase them down. OK, maybe I'm just plain lazy, but I find it much easier and quicker to get clients using the principle of attraction rather than going on endless (and often fruitless) client scavenger hunts.

4. You want to prospects to self-qualify by indicating interest in your deliverable(s). You never know who is going to respond to your offer, or who will want your product or service (it's not like people wear signs). Having a killer elevator speech that attracts your ideal clients helps you identify your prospects immediately (even when you don't recognize them on your own).

5. You want to attract your best prospects to you so that you can convert them into clients quickly and easily. I don't know about you, but I prefer to close sales as soon as possible with as little effort as I can get away with. I've found the best way to do that is to attract the people who really want and need my services, so that the sales process is relatively short and painless for both of us.

6. You want to be perceived as credible, competent, and professional. If you're tap dancing around what you do, and refuse to (or can't) be specific about your value to your clients, you're not going to be viewed as a top resource. People respect the professional who knows what she does for her clients, and can articulate it in a few well-chosen words. By the way, your prospects can also tell when you're so desperate for clients that you're willing to say anything to get the sale, whether or not you're a good fit for the client's needs.

7. You want everyone you meet to remember you, what you do, and who would be an ideal referral for you. People can't refer to you if they don't have a clear idea of what you do, and they won't remember more than 10 words about you, guaranteed. That's why your elevator speech needs to specify both your ideal client as well as your deliverables or client outcomes, and be memorable.

8. You don't want to fumble for words or say the wrong thing to a prospect or potential referral partner. After all, the first time you're speaking to your prospects is very much like an audition or a job interview. Your prospects are drawing conclusions (or making judgments, however you like to frame it) about you, your capabilities, and your potential value to them, all within the first 3.5 seconds of meeting you. Does it come as a surprise that you make a far better impression when you're prepared?

9. You want permission to explain in more detail what you do for your clients, so you need a compelling, concise and attractive elevator speech that prompts people to ask for more information. Remember, the two questions that people ask themselves when you're talking about your business are: Is he talking about me? Do I want what she's talking about? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you will be granted about 30 seconds to make your case. If the answer to both questions is no, then it's time to move on. And frankly, isn't it better to know that sooner, rather than later?

10. You don't want to bore people to tears within 30 seconds of meeting them. The sad truth is that most people have the attention spans of gnats, thanks to our culture of instant gratification, but you can use that to your advantage by crafting an attention-getting elevator speech that speaks directly to the deepest desires of your ideal clients. Unless, of course, you enjoy being known as a bore.

There may be a few reasons you need a killer elevator speech that I haven't listed here, but these should be enough for you to at least consider developing your own killer elevator speech.

So, what's keeping you from getting your own killer elevator speech now? If you need help, visit my web site for a free tool that will help you craft a killer elevator speech.

By Veronika Noize
Image by Marad777


8 Publicity Mistakes to Avoid

Get Free Publicity by Preventing These Mistakes

 Most business owners, entrepreneurs, authors, musical artists and others who want to get free publicity shoot themselves in the foot when dealing with the media and end up not getting the publicity they might otherwise have had. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Not coordinating new and traditional media approaches.

Many people mistakenly believe that publicity programs should be one or the other, or that traditional media is no longer effective. Both of them can be very effective ways to get free publicity.

Trying to oversell on social media. You can use them to sell, but your primary focus should be on creating relationships, which can often lead to business profits.

A poorly written press release. The press release should read like a newspapers story, even if it is for broadcast media. It should be in the inverted pyramid style. Start with the most important point and proceed to the least important point. It should be written in the 3rd person--she,he -- not you, I. It should be somewhere between 400 - 600 words.

A weak headline. This is the most important part of a press release. It should catch the journalist's attention quickly and relate the main point of the story.

Advertising. The press release should read like news, not a thinly disguised ad. Avoid industry jargon and hype.

Being chatty. Journalists are extremely busy. If you call them on the phone, be polite but get to the main point of your call quickly.

Being late. Many people trying to get free publicity pitch stories without giving reporters and editors enough advance notice. If you have a scheduled event, send your pitch at least two weeks ahead of time for newspapers and broadcast outlets. Most magazines have a lead time of several months to a year.

Not being available. Journalists are always on deadline. Make sure that you are available when they are on a deadline for your story. They will most likely have additional questions about the story. So if you want to get free publicity, be there.


By Danek S. Kaus
Photography by Sandra Dragojlovic


Danek S. Kaus is the author of "You Can Be Famous! Insider Secrets to Getting Free Publicity. Learn more publicity secrets at and find out how you can be interviewed on over 150 radio talk shows []


What to Do When a Client Wants to Back Out of an Agreement

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs - What to Do When a Client Wants to Back Out of an Agreement

What do you do when a client tells you they want to cancel the contract? Here are a few ideas that can help you if you are faced with a client who wants to back out of a project.

1. Remind the client why they wanted to hire you in the first place.
People buy on emotion and justify with logic. You need to rekindle the emotion that made them want to hire you in the first place.


2. Offer to do the work, at a lower price, if you remove one or more of the deliverables.
For example, you might do the job at 20 percent off if they agree that you'll do 3 of the 4 things originally promised. You do less work and get paid less. That's a fair exchange and it might fit into their budget. Please note: Never offer to do the same amount of work for less money. That type of client will always ask you to do more and more and pay you less and less.

3. Renegotiate the entire deal.
Maybe their needs changed dramatically and they need a different kind of service. Maybe they didn't realize you offer that service. Show them that you can help them and they will re-open talks.

4. Re-examine your fees.
In this age of economic uncertainty, you might find that your fees are out of line with what the market will bear. There are many wise people who say "never lower your fees," even in tough times. You'll have to decide which tactic works best for you.

5. Decide when and where to give discounts as a giveback.
For example, if you don't have to travel, that saves you time and energy. You might decide to give a "hometown discount" when you jump into your car instead of get on a plane. You might give a discount if they offer to buy more of your services than originally planned. This way, you get more work and more money without having to invest any more into marketing expenses and time. You might consider a discount if they offer to promote you via advertisements in their newsletters or to their mailing lists. Only you can decide if this exchange is worth the trade. I'm just putting the idea on the table.


6. When you send your contract, be sure to include two items:

     1.   A non-refundable down payment to hold the date or the job; and

     2.   A clause that explains what happens if the client cancels the contract.
I've seen too many people get burned because they didn't have a cancellation clause in the contract -- myself included! I learned this lesson the hard way.


This list is far from definitive. What ideas do you have for consultants whose clients want to cancel agreements? If you follow some of these ideas, you'll win back more business and make more money.

By Daniel Janal
Image© Sinan Isakovic


7 Customer Service Truths for Client Satisfaction

7 Basic Quality Service Truths & How They Satisfy Clients

Despite all the talk about quality and quality service, there are 7 basic quality service truths. These truths apply to all services provided by any business.

What are quality service truths? They truths apply to services, whether professional, personal or those delivered by skilled tradespeople.

1. Clients want the outcome not the service itself

Most clients prefer services that are as simple as possible. They also really want to complete their transactions as easily with as few hassles as humanly possible. So, frequently as a second choice, they hire designers to help them.

2. Clients need your service

New clients will usually consider their own resources before selecting a professional. To avoid paying design fees, many people would prefer to find their own purchasers. Unless their initiatives produce immediate results, as a second choice, they will look to design professionals for help. As a professional , you are well positioned to do more for clients than they expect or could even imagine.

3. Providing technical information is not quality service

Clients want more than technical information. They care less about HVAC specs than they do about operating costs and how the system will add to the enjoyment of living in the home.

4. Industry jargon reduces quality service

Similar to truth #3, this one focuses on communication. Communicating with clients involves treading a fine line between using terminology that is too industry-specific on the one hand, and talking down to the client by using language that is too simple on the other hand. This underlines the importance of knowing and listening carefully to each individual client. It's important to know what the client knows now and what she needs to learn in order to make a decision. This enables you to frame your questions and comments so that your clients will understand.

5. Professional certification does not equal quality service

To protect consumers against being ripped off , most states require the licensing of interior designers. To be licensed, it is usually necessary to qualify by studying prescribed courses and passing specific tests.
Qualification to practice does not automatically result in the ability to deliver quality service to clients.

Delivering quality service means meeting clients’ standards of quality, not simply meeting minimal standards of professional competence.

6. Client service is variable

Service cannot be mass produced and stored until it's needed. Also, the same service can vary from one provider to another. The type and quality of service that you provide varies from time to time. Notwithstanding this variability, each client deserves the same standard of service, regardless of what factors may be influencing you.

7. Quality service is what your client says it is

Many businesses post signs with the following rules of client service:

Rule 1: the client is always right

Rule 2: if you think the client is wrong, read rule #1

Trite though the rules may be, they do reflect the reality that clients determine you standards of quality. If your standards of quality coincide with or exceed your clients’ standards, you will be successful. If your standards fail to meet those of your clients, you can’t count on your clients for repeat business or referrals.

By Larry Easto
Image by Frenk And Danielle Kaufmann

A special thank you to Larry Easto for allowing edits to his piece to benefit the interior design community.

This article is an edited version of the original which may be found at Larry Easto is a best selling business writer and publisher of


Client Meetings: 7 Tips for Business Lunch Etiquette

Client meetings can make or break your business. A meeting over a meal can be even more daunting. Here are a few tips to execute a business lunch successfully.


Time is Money and Business

Management and business experts never shy away from telling this secret: practice punctuality. Being at the meeting on time or even a few minutes ahead of the stipulated time is advised. If you do not value your customer's time, you lose point. Thus, NEVER ever make a client wait for you.


Planning Before Hand

Give the client the option to pick a place, though there is no harm in suggesting a place suiting your budget. After you zero in on a place and time, send reminder email a day before the meeting. It is a good habit to inculcate with regards to business etiquette.

Pleasantries, Et All

Offering a handshake and greeting with a good afternoon is  good etiquette. Thank your client for taking time for the meeting. Unless you know the person you are having the meeting with, avoid coming up with witty one liners. If you are hosting a large group from a single firm, greet the senior member first and then accordingly the others. Oh and yes, please, do not forget to switch off or put your cell on silent mode. This is a very crucial aspect of business lunch etiquette.


Talking the Talk

Just to give the conversation a kick start, small talk is required. But let it be just that - SMALL. No rambling about your family or kids for too long, it can put off the client. Break it when the waiter comes for your order. Slowly get into the business mode. Avoid rushing directly to the business talk. If your food does not come before the client's, ask the client to go ahead with his, lest it gets cold.


Coming to the Point

Broach and venture into the actual serious business talk as the desserts or coffee come in. Knowing dining basics-  fork and spoon handling and when to take your napkin- would be an added advantage. Further, if the customer has wine it is okay for you to have a little wine. However, being intoxicated at such a meeting is a huge no-no in business lunch etiquette.

Kill Bill

Another problem area in business lunch etiquette- who pays. Well, it has to be you, obviously. There are many ways to make payment discreetly. Before you take your seat, ask the waiter to give you the bill directly.  Also, when you are sure that you are not going to order anything more, excuse yourself and pay at the reception directly. This will avoid any ambiguity as to who will pay. 


Parting Shot

Finally, give a good tip. Walk the guest out and ensure that he is comfortably on his way. Remember: You should never leave before the client. In business lunch etiquette, doing so would be a major faux pas.

It is also a good idea to send a follow up thank you note to the guest even if you haven't been able to strike a deal. It could be a hand written note or an email for his graciousness for having given you time. This will definitely leave a positive impression.

I hope that you find this useful and have great business luncheons! 

By Medha Godbole
Image by Alexandros Papathanasiou