How to Collect On Overdue Invoices in Your Foreclosure Cleanup Business
Part of business, any business, encompasses bill collecting. A foreclosure cleanup enterprise is no exception. Foreclosure cleanup encompasses the interior and exterior clearing out, cleaning up, repairing and maintaining of homes that have been foreclosed upon. As a business owner, if you have outstanding invoices in your cache of foreclosure cleaning paperwork, here are some insightful tips to help you collect on what may be thousands of dollars in outstanding invoices.
Bill Collecting Scenarios
As the owner of a foreclosure and real estate cleanup business in Atlanta, GA, I personally have had four scenarios where I've had to be a bull-dog collecting outstanding invoices. One was from a Realtor colleague; another, a large property preservation company in another state; the third, a real estate broker who'd given my company a great deal of work; and the final one, just recently, was from a private investor (this one was not really late; they simply did not want to pay the final fifty percent because they wanted us to remove an automobile from the property that was not part of the original estimate). But, ultimately, all four collection processes yielded checks for work performed.
Standard Bill Collecting Tips
Here are some standard bill collecting tips that can help you collect monies due your company for foreclosure cleanup work performed.
1. Contact your clients immediately upon the invoice(s) becoming late. Present them with another copy of the invoice(s) via fax or email as quickly as possible so they can have quick reference. (It really just may be an oversight; give the client the benefit of the doubt initially.)
2. If the client still does not pay the invoice in due time, call them often to remind them of the overdue invoice, keeping legalities in mind. (Some clients may request that you only contact them in writing.)
3. Be professional in your dealings, but be firm and consistent in your contact. Squeaky wheel gets the oil.
4. Where necessary, offer a payment plan arrangement to the client. Remember, ultimately you simply want to collect your money. It's not ideal to get paid in dribs and drabs; but it will certainly beat not getting paid at all.
5. If your attempts prove futile, don't discount turning the account over to a lawyer or collection agency.
6. If you are still working for the client, tell them you cannot perform any more work for them until the overdue invoices are paid. (WARNING: You may lose the client; but it will beat working for free.)
Keep It Legal
In conclusion, remember, use only "legal" tactics when collecting on overdue invoices; try as best as you can to preserve your company image when working with those who owe you -- this may not always be possible when you're threatening to sue someone. And, finally, ultimately, keep the end goal in mind: collecting our money for work performed.
Real estate, in any scenario, is a tough, tough industry, and if you're soft in going after monies owed you, you'll find yourself busy as a bee, but working for free.
Learn from Bill Collecting
Always use experiences like bill collecting from which to learn, grow. Perhaps revisit the scenario that landed you in a position to have to "bill collect" and tweak your industry contract (ours has been revised several times). Also, dissect how you came about this particular client who does not want to pay or who is not in a position to pay. In short, muddle the bill collecting scenario and examine what you could have done differently to avoid overdue invoices. Likely, it's not (or won't be) your fault at all; but the savvy entrepreneur will examine all nuggets of a negative situation and vow to learn, grow, and become stronger and better in their businesses as a result of the experience.
My mama used to say, "You can't avoid how people behave, but you can learn from it." She was right. In large part, most clients will pay and pay on time; but some clients will inevitably try to skip out on invoices. But if you present a no-nonsense front, go at them hard and fast from the beginning, and have your contract, procedures and knowledge of area legalities in order, you will collect.
Good luck with your foreclosure cleanup business.