My husband and I own a small business. We have a large account providing wholesale items to a client. Our original agreement was to work on 30-day payment periods, but he is three months behind on the bill. We live in a small town, and the businesses here stick together and help each other out, so we don’t want to ruin the relationship. Do you have some advice on handling this situation?
From what you said, I assume this guy’s not a cheat or anything like that. He’s probably like a lot of small-business owners in that he’s just a little disorganized. Still, you need to correct this behavior.
If it were me, I’d go to his office and have a friendly, sit-down meeting about things. There’s no reason to start throwing threats around, but he needs to understand you can’t be his bank. You’re a small business, too, and you need your money.
Ask a few questions, and find out what’s really going on. Then, let him know it will help matters if he can get current on the bill by a certain date. You’ve provided goods and services, and he owes you money, so this is a fair request. You might think about adjusting your payment agreement to reflect that once he’s current, payment must be within 10 days of delivery from that point on.
If that’s not workable, you may have to switch to a cash-only basis—where payment is due on delivery. And if none of these options work, well, you should probably tell him to find another supplier.