A reader writes: “I have a customer who is starting to delay payments due to loss of one of his major accounts. He stated that we all need to share the burden. I do not want to lose this customer. What can I do?”

First of all, you need to get over the emotion of keeping or losing this account. My experience is that accounts will come and go for various reasons and it is unwise to relax your guard with a customer that you “like.” Although you may appreciate his sharing with you his financial woes, what does that have to do with your meeting payroll, buying supplies, covering your insurance, etc.? Business is business!!!

Having said that you can view this as an opportunity to partner with him during this downturn for a win/win outcome. Since you have had this contract for a few years, you should be able to develop a Plan B (and if necessary Plan C) that cuts back on some tasks/frequencies to reduce your costs and therefore his monthly bill. Tasks that are currently being performed daily may need to be reduced to weekly or bi-weekly. Other tasks could be taken off the plate entirely and made a “tag job” where they will decide when they need the work done and pay accordingly. Some key tasks to look at are dusting/cleaning desk areas. Staff can take care of their own areas. Another might be how often you wash windows, deep clean carpet or thorough vacuum. Areas that should not be reduced are the public high profile entrances, key offices, restrooms and other high impression areas.

Do not let him get in arears with him payments. Be professional, be understanding and be firm on the fact that you need to be paid in a timely manner for the contracted work being provided. Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…..

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.