Well believe it or not, one strategy for getting your customers to pay on time is actually sitting there in the bible. You just need to know where to look…
Moses never argued with God
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘come up to me on the mountain and wait there; and I will give you the tables of stone, with the law and commandment, which I have written for their instruction’, and he gave to Moses, when he made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tables of his testimony, tables in stone, written with the finger of God. And Moses turned, and went down the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hands, tables that were written on both sides; on the one side and the other were they written” (Exodus, chapters 24, 31 and 32).
So what has that passage got to do with cashflow? The answer is that God understood the psychology of written terms.
The Psychology of Written Terms
Now God wasn’t seeking payment from his customers in a monetary sense. What he was seeking was far more important and valuable – mankind’s loyalty to the 10 Commandments. So what did he do? He wrote them down on tables of stone and on both sides! By writing down the 10 Commandments in stone he gave them a sense of permanency and urgency.
Now nowhere in the 10 Commandments story does it say that Moses negotiated with God. He didn’t get instructions from mankind and bargain (in good faith) an exception to the adultery commandment. No, he just accepted them.
Customers accept payment terms when they are written down
Think back to the last time you went into a restaurant. Next to each dish is its price. When was the last time you negotiated with the waiter a discount? Compare that to going to a market overseas where there are no prices on anything. You ask the price and are told. Do you think you would be tempted to haggle? Most would.
It is the same in a service business
If you operate a service business that provides an invoice to the customer after the work is carried out, then it is likely you will have experienced problems with some customers over payment. One reason is probably because you didn’t hand your customers your written payment terms before you did the work. If you can produce written payment terms to your customer at that stage of the transaction it is so much easier to get the customer to agree to them. That’s what the psychology of written terms says. Immediately, you take away the compulsion to negotiate when they receive the bill. That’s assuming, that you have written terms of business.
There is no excuse for not having written terms
Every business should have written terms. They form the foundation of your relationship with your customers. And your customers are the life blood of your business. Your terms of business will be specific to your business and should be tailored like a suit. Not having any at all, is like walking around the business world butt naked. Get a tailored suit and it will last for the eternity of your business.
God’s terms will last for eternity and so should yours
The 10 Commandments will last for eternity and are etched on most people’s minds. Your job as a business owner is to make sure your payment terms are etched on your customer’s minds. The best way to do that is to write them down, and hand them to the customer before you start the work – just as God did to Moses.