Lombardo says. “That’s more likely to give
them an incentive to do it.”
Reward customers for staying. Mueller
says, “For long-term contracts of a year and
more, we give 10 percent off our hourly rate.”
Celebrate their successes. Door Number
3 learned that one client, a voracious reader,
was marking his 10th anniversary with his
company. “He loved a certain author, so we
searched on the Internet and found a signed,
first-edition book by this author and sent it to
him,” Mueller says. “It made such a good
When your clients do something special
in their volunteer work or achieve another
milestone, have your CEO write a note or
otherwise highlight the accomplishment,
“At first it’s fun,” he explains. Then, “it
builds on the client trust in the relationship,
so there’s a lot of mutual respect and maybe
they’ll pay us first.”
Combine a carrot with your follow-up
invoice. When needed, Costco member
Mona Zemsky offers clients a carrot along
with a subtle reminder that payment is due.
Zemsky, a marketing consultant, might suggest that a client would be a good fit for an
upcoming television feature story and offer
to contact the producer. Then she’ll close the
letter with a reminder about payment due.
Here’s how that combination might work
for a caterer, Zemsky says.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19
I’ve been catering your office’s dessert
parties for many years now, but did you
know that I offer the “Good Taste” choco-
late factory tours on Saturday mornings for
$25? Usually the tour is filled to capacity,
but for this Saturday I had a few cancella-
tions. Why don’t you come as my guest this
Saturday? Samples are included, so please
bring your husband and children as well.
They’ll love it. If you could bring your pay-
ment for invoice 12345 at that time, too, I’d
really appreciate it.
Shake a stick
Sometimes, only a stick will do. “We
assess 5 percent of the invoice amount on
unpaid balances that are 45 days past due,”
The final stick: Some clients you don’t
need. “If you’re spending excess time chasing
down customers who don’t value your products or services, at some point it’s better to
take the real cost of your time managing customer behavior and shift that into getting
new, better customers,” Brown says. C
Karen Haywood Queen is a freelance writer
and piano teacher in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Her piano families began paying early when
she offered an early-payment discount of $4.