Help! My customers won’t pay their bill, what do I do?
As a small business owner you’re very busy. Managing day to day operations, sales calls, and employee issues are already enough to cause you to need a few more hours in the day than you have. When you do a job for a customer you expect to be paid promptly; after all, they expected their work to be done promptly. But now here you are, all the work is done and they are refusing to pay, what can you do?
Every situation will be different, but when you want to get right to the point and show the individual you are serious, the best way to do that is to hire a collection attorney to assist you in the collection of what you are owed. Hiring an attorney doesn’t automatically mean that you are going to sue your customer, there can be several actions that can be taken before you get to that step.
Sending a demand letter
This is generally the first step your attorney will take. This shows your customer that you have outside counsel and that your aren’t playing anymore games. Also this provides, in writing, that there will be consequences if the bill goes unpaid. Equally important, it provides a deadline for the individual. Many times, this is all it will take. Some customers will only pay once they are forced to, and a demand letter will, in most cases, provide that “nudge” they need.
Filing a lien on the individual
If the demand letter goes unanswered, sometimes, depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate to file a lien. As a lien has a more serious impact on the person or business owing the debt, the law surrounding your ability to file can be quite involved. You will need an attorney to assist in this endeavor as there are very strict timetables in which to file liens and the consequences of filing a lien improperly can be costly. As you can see, taking action such as this has the potential of notifying the public in general that this debtor fails or refuses to pay their bills. This type of action may have a negative impact on this business or individual, and as such you should always consult your attorney before you take this step. Actions such as this may be taken prior to filing a suit for collection.
Going to court
Unfortunately, if your customer fails to respond to other collection efforts this is where the situation could end up. This is where your collection attorney will be most helpful. Navigating the courts and the ins and outs that go along with it, is not something you want to do alone. Having a collection attorney at this stage will allow you to continue to run your business and let them handle the legal angles. They will work with you to recover the lost payment as well as any damages you may have incurred as a result of nonpayment.
As mentioned above, every situation will be different, and the assistance of a collection attorney will provide wise counsel for whatever situation arises. The attorneys at Pipkin Ferguson PLLC have a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with collection issues and will work closely with you to help recover the funds you are owed.