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After looking at your online poll “Handling Hoof-Care Clients Who Refuse To Pay” (AmericanFarriers.com/articles/10591), I wanted to offer my own thoughts on handling clients like this. In my experience, getting paid is a process that starts long before the owner decides not to pay their bill. It begins with a new owner providing accurate contact information: email, mobile and their address. At this early stage, it is entirely logical that you discuss what payment methods you accept and provide a rate sheet showing the prices of the services you provide. You must even say, “I expect to be paid at the time of service.”
You can ask questions to find out what their expectations are. At the first service, document your work with a few before and after pictures, what services you provided and a plan on how you want to approach things. This all needs to be documented and available to you to support future collection efforts.
If the owner’s expectations change, you will need to be aware of that when that happens. Again, this needs to be documented. Unexplained changes in payment routine are a warning sign and it is necessary at that time to restate your expectations for payment. A first missed payment warrants a friendly reminder, but further missed payments need to be dealt with in an ever-escalating chain of communications ending with small claims court. When that happens, you will be fully prepared to prove that services were provided…