I think as farriers we need to get away from the "payment at time of service" mentality. I say this only out of a professional appearance standpopint. I have some clients that Im very comfortable with billing, others that pay with credit cards, and others that have payment on hand when i arrive. I often times work on horses when the client is not present and they receive an e—mail saying their horse was done. I have clients ive never met, they call me with a Credit card number and i find that works really well.
—Douglas Hogue, CJF
Collecting payments at the time of service is "key" to improving cash flow and reducing costs. The quicker money is collected for services rendered, the quicker it can be used or saved. Billing increases your overhead by increasing expenses such as envelopes, stamps, paper, telephone calls, interest and time. Billing risks loss of income and does not allow you to use this money immediately. An uncollected bill takes money away from your family. Clients are trained by you when it comes to money matters. Bill and you will establish billing clients. Payment upon completion of service and you will have checks, cash or credit cards waiting for you. I do not bill.
—Esco Buff, PhD, APF, CF
bills are due within 30 days of service, I do way to many horses in larger barns to contact all the owners everytime I show up. if we do not recieve the payment within 30 days they get a call to remind them of the policy, and also to remind them that the horse will not be reshod unless the money is in my hands before I arrive. If they blow it 2x on this policy they go to c.o.d . I find this policy works well keeps an active cash flow comming into the house almost every day, and chases out all the deadbeats in these barns, never had any trouble with the small private prperty accounts. they always tend to pay day of service anyway.
—Jay Flynn, CJF
I mostly collect for my services when the work is done. However, I do have clients who don't have the money in their accounts at the time of service. I have them date the check the day the work is done and then write the day I can cash it on the back where I endorse it. That way if they die the check is still good as written. A person cannot write a check after their death. I also do work for people I have never met so I have to send bills out. This gets to be a bit of a pain because of the time it takes for payment. To help speed things up, I charge a 15% billing fee for the 2nd bill. I am not a financial institution so I cannot legally charge interest on the unpaid balance. The local courts have decided that I can charge a billing fee. That 15% tends to speed up payment. If you do get stiffed on a payment it will be well worth your while to take them to court. Even deadbeats read the paper. The court docket is reported in our local paper. People will see that you will take them to court and win. There will be less people calling you who don't want to pay.
Well said, Diane. Your policy is my policy, and the billing fee does the trick. As a one—person business, I don't have time or resources to chase unpaid accounts. My hourly rate decreases if I have to pursue payment. It's payment at time of service or payment in advance.
For the rare situation when a regular client "forgets the checkbook" they have 3 business days to get payment in my hands. New clients receive a letter explaining my services, including payment expectations (check or cash) before I see their horse. Advantage to working in a small, isolated community—I've only been stuck once in 11 years.
My general policy is to not bill but expect payment at the time of service. When you require services, don't you have to pay at the time of those services? So what makes a farrier's services different? I still have to buy groceries this week!
IF I have to end up billing someone, I add at least $5 to the bill with a note "discount of $5 if paid by xxx (date)". Generally that date is 10 days — not 10 business days, just 10 days. Then if the check gets written after that date, I've got a little extra money for having to have waited for the check. If I have to rebill someone at the end of the month, I add a "billing" fee of at least $5. I don't charge interest, just the billing fee.
When I worked for someone else & had to do collections, I went through small claims court. Fees have gotten expensive enough there that it's almost not worth chasing after these people any longer. Unfortunately they know that!
In over 10 years of doing farrier work, I think I've only been stuck 3 times. (knock on wood)
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