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Old 07-09-2017, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Portal to the Pacific
4,382 posts, read 4,204,932 times
Reputation: 4798

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I've run a pet sitting/dog walking business for the last 3 years. Usually people are really good about paying. I tell them that I expect payment within one week of their return and nearly all of them do. Many choose to prepay although I never set the expectation that they should (often better if they don't as travel plans often change). Sometimes I might have a client take a week, but that's usually pretty unusual.

Except for this month.

Right now I have no less than 6 clients owing me a collective $700. Several are pretty small amounts, almost negligible. However I've got two that are over $200 and another over $50.

I'm mostly concerned about the larger two. One of them is a client that usually does take awhile, no less than 3-5 days to pay me. It's taken her a week several times. What's different this time is that I sent her a reminder yesterday and she responded "it's on my to-do list!" and now she's a facebook "friend" (as a side note: I treat my profile as a business and the majority of my updates or client photos for advertising purposes) and she's "liking" the photos of the animals I'm posting. It's kind of killing me... she's interacting with my photos.. she knows she owes me.. I take online payments.. so why the F can she stop liking my photos and go to my online store and just get the payment over and done with???

Ugh...

The second situation is a bit trickier. I've got an older woman.. well, she's actually old. She's in her mid 70's I would say and I go in each morning to let her dog out to do its business. She's on an every other week payment plan. She's been pretty good over the last two months... as long as I can get her while she's awake. Usually I walk in, let her know the total and then I take the dog out. When I return she gives me a check... but today she said she didn't have any checks...

This woman is sort of a hot mess, albeit a wealthy one. I was hired during a personal crisis of sorts.. she had just moved out of her home into an apartment and was having the physical difficulties that as far as I know were caused by the stress of moving (she thought she had cancer and/or a stroke.. until she went to the doctor and told her she's fine). She's had situations that have kept her up all night and I'd walk with her just sitting in her chair sobbing.. most recently she had a computer issue and thought someone stole all her money...

And she's not unpacked a single box in over two months.

I've helped her in a few instances.. I took her to the pharmacy (I charged her for the time and milage) and I changed the batteries in her smoke detector which was making the dog spazz (I charged her for the time and cost of batteries).

So now she says she's not sure when she can pay me. She doesn't use a traditional bank apparently.. all her money is in a money market account with some investment brokerage firm that's about 20 miles from here and she seems to be completely dependent on her advisor and his office.

She doesn't do any online payments.

And quite frankly, all of this is really stretching the boundaries of what I am willing to put up with. I used to work a home health care aide and I can tell you.. this woman is on the verge of needing real support.

Ugh. I could use some advice. With the older woman I know I need more patience.. but I also want to make sure I get paid. I told her that I expect payment within two weeks. That's all I said to her. And I'll keep going every day for the two weeks at which point she'll owe me twice as much.

My business anniversary is coming up in the fall. Many of my systems like the website and software will need to be renewed.. I'm thinking I'm big enough and sustaining business enough to warrant one of those programs where you can send out invoices and track clients better. 21 century style...

I'm just feeling frustrated this morning. I usually don't have all this happen at once...
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:39 PM
Status: "C'est la Vie. C'est la Guerre." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
25,102 posts, read 54,220,047 times
Reputation: 25959
Quote:
Originally Posted by flyingsaucermom View Post
Usually people are really good about paying.

Sometimes I might have a client take a week, but that's usually pretty unusual.
Except for this month.

Right now I have no less than 6 clients owing me a collective $700.
It's time for a face to face conversation about WHY
and a verbal demand for a check to catch up. Right then.

If their why makes sense then revert to the previous arrangement.
If it doesn't... either go to a COD process or fire them.
But don't leave without payment.
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:03 PM
 
1,841 posts, read 1,669,195 times
Reputation: 2819
The poster above is correct, however, I'd like to add a few things.
First, if you can start to get your clients to prepay, that would be a better business model.

Second, call the Facebook person before you go there next and tell her she has to have a check ready for you when you arrive. As you said the older woman sounds like she is showing signs of needing help. I would try to find out if there is a son or daughter you can contact about getting paid and what you are observing. If she truly ran out of checks, and is as bad as you say, she probably doesn't know how to get more. Unless your relationship is such that you can help her with that you may have to write off getting paid.

Lastly, I know how hard it is to loose customers- I had a business for 25 years. However, when they stop paying you have to cut them lose. At that point, you're a "volunteer".
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:33 PM
 
Location: Tampa, Florida
1,715 posts, read 3,437,561 times
Reputation: 2877
My pet sitters have always required prepayment and I was never offended by it. Since that is what I am used to I expect that to be the payment arrangement for petsitters.

Last edited by CrowGirl; 07-09-2017 at 04:33 PM.. Reason: fix typo
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Old 07-10-2017, 01:22 PM
 
2,829 posts, read 1,084,269 times
Reputation: 8727
Money up front, not after the fact.

If they are not able to pay, you aren't able to walk.

If they get huffy (Which most will not), half-apologize and explain that you've had people abuse your generosity in the past. They will automatically think themselves better than those other freeloaders and stroke you a check.
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Old 07-10-2017, 05:06 PM
 
16,871 posts, read 11,083,578 times
Reputation: 11831
If you don't want to ask for prepayment why not require payment at the time of pickup? No payment? You don't get your animal back
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Old 07-12-2017, 02:33 PM
 
8 posts, read 7,709 times
Reputation: 45
Many of our repeat clients keep their credit card numbers on file with us. You may even consider using your phone with a small credit card reader attached, I believe the unit is called "The Square".
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Old 07-19-2017, 03:06 PM
 
1,562 posts, read 985,177 times
Reputation: 2686
I'll echo the other comments about needing to adjust your pay structure. Prepayment is a pretty good thing to have. For those that balk, a valid credit card on file. At the very least, a clear limit in the contract regarding future service when there is an outstanding balance. Obviously you want to keep your customers, but you can't afford to get burned; you have to be paid as well.

As to dealing with the situation in front of you now, it can require some finesse. Are these long-term clients or two-month clients? You have to consider everything. Contrary to what another poster suggested, I would strongly advise against ever trying to hold someone's pet until they pay you. That's just asking for a disaster.

I've found the best approach is to simply ask "Did I do something wrong?". It's not aggressive or demanding, but it still places the client in the position of explaining why she hasn't paid you. "I love your dogs, I always try to take good care of them. I presume my service was as you've come to expect, you've always paid me in the past, but I still haven't received your payment this month...", etc. From there you can explain what it is you're willing to do: "If you're able to settle your balance(50%/whatever) in the next two days, we can keep our Saturday appointment"...That would be my response.
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Old 11-12-2017, 05:21 PM
 
Location: San Diego CA
1,030 posts, read 1,921,586 times
Reputation: 608
This is a very hot topic with regards to the way my business is being run, before, and now after I acquired it.
Been 1 year
In my case, I have Vendor issues. I switched one from me billing his fed ex account for shipping to USPS to save him ship fees and save me inconvenience, however...he is falling behind on his USPS ship fees and I am trying to set up a vendor portal on my eCommerce website, not sure if quick books would suffice instead, and just resume shipping under his fed ex account, I have that number. I want to avoid adding any more money into my merchant account.
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Old 11-26-2017, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Earth
700 posts, read 306,408 times
Reputation: 659
What waivers do you have them sign? As far as collections,if not paid etc?
Business is business,banks don't let up on a house thats not being paid.
Do you have an attorney for writing up waivers or anything?I would look into that.
And if anything with these clients,take a loss and dont serve them anymore.
Learn from it and protect yourself from future mishaps.
Collecting money wouldnt even be worth the hassle I'd say.
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