The cheque is in the mail…
Singapore- Chennai 6th September 2010
Off to India for a site coordination meeting with client and operator.
One of the recurring issues for us all the time is collection of payments for our services. We generally do a round up monthly of all our work to see what is billable or not, specifically the progressive invoicing for work completed. Sometimes if we have a clear and big submission, like 100% DD for example, we will issue the invoice straight away. Never a better time than now, isn’t it? That is the easy part. Where all our skills and diplomacy really are required is to actually collect the money!
We all know the famous answer: “The cheque is in the mail….”, which basically means we haven’t done it yet. Another classic is: “Sorry our director is overseas and we need his signature to process the payment!”, followed by: “He will be back in 2 weeks or so, sorry for the inconvenience”. You want some more? What about: “Sorry our company policy is 90 days”, or “Aall payment requests need to be in before the 20th of each month otherwise it carries over to the next month”. The most blatant one is of course: “Sorry we did not receive (or can’t find) your invoice, can you send it again?” Which of course they will only tell you when you chase them after a month. There is a variation on the same theme when they say: “The address on the invoice is wrong, can you please send it in again?” There are a few more but you get the gist.
It is all designed to hang on to their money as long as possible and maximize the delay as much as possible. While a general way of dealing in Asia it happens everywhere in the world I assume, though I must say my experience with Australia is actually quite good, with little issue or disputes on invoices. To make our life easy we need to organize the project administration and get to know the responsible people behind your payments is very important. Building steps of approval to avoid disputes is part of that.
Last but not least a happy client is more likely to pay then an unhappy client. So our main focus really is on delivering good quality work! But then again this is easier said than done…