Singapore, 2nd October 2014
One of the most crucial parts of running a successful company is the management of your cash-flow, something that has nothing to do with lighting design…well a bit I guess because you are only being paid if you deliver the goods that are expected from you. So assuming that you have delivered as per contract our greatest challenge remains always to collect the payments rightfully due to us. I say rightfully because that is of course our point of view, the reality however is that clients may have different views. You would be surprised how many reasons a client can come up with to delay payment. The longer money stays in your own pocket the better it generally is for your own company, so accounts departments and their CFO (Chief Financial Officers) are trained and focussed to make sure money is only leaving their accounts when there is no further escaping. There are exceptions but in general that is the attitude of all account departments, my own included!
Today’s blog subject is triggered by the fact that we finally managed to “extract” two long overdue (big) payments from the same client but for different projects. Big corporations have a habit of setting up separate entities for each project as to limit their liability in case something goes wrong. So while the client is the same, the accounting departments are split over the various projects and as a result we deal with different persons for different projects even though the client is the same. For months we have been negotiating and arguing…I could write a book about the excuses and reasons that accounts use for not being able to pay.
But what I have learned over the years is that accounts need to be talked to by account people; peer to peer. Somehow there is more respect, better understanding. When I sent out an email with a strong request to pay up even beefed up with threats that we may have to hold back on our services if payment is not received, it does not have the same effect as my own accounts staff sending out the same message. Perhaps they speak the same language and perhaps they feel they cannot “bully” their own counterparts as they are in the same game. So the morale here is get accounts to talk to accounts. Me as a boss I just need to address myself to the boss, not to accounts 🙂
Light Watch 5-166: We get paid to create beautifully lit spaces…we can’t do this alone. Without the architects, the interior designers, etc, our life would be very difficult. The UK pavilion at the Shanghai Expo in 2010 was an incredible combination of light and architecture…