Are you a Builder? Trouble with a customer?
The chances are, most of your customers will pay you within a reasonable amount of time and not cause you any issues.
But at some point in your building career, you surely encounter a customer that will either put off paying time after time or simply refuse to pay at all.
When this happens, you need to know how to deal with the situation, what your options are and, perhaps most importantly, what not to do.
Why the customer is not always right
Most builders get work based on their reputation, so dealing with non-paying or late-paying customers can be really tricky.
But by sticking to your guns and following the advice below, you should be able to collect the money owed to you.
There are a range of reasons why customers can’t or won’t pay, and you need to be clear what these are before taking any steps.
As always, prevention is better than cure but there are options open to you in almost every situation.
Imagine the situation, you’ve spent weeks working on a project, buying materials and carrying out the agreed work. When the job’s done you send an invoice only to be ignored.
You follow up and still no response. The customer isn’t returning your calls and never seems to be in. Then, when you do finally get hold of them, it’s excuses after excuses, or worse, a refusal to pay.
This kind of situation plays out time and again all over the UK, and it’s one that most builders will experience more than once in their career.
Builders have been known to take action in ways such as dismantling their work, brick by brick. This is when the press or social media get involved good builders get a bad reputation
It is a matter of but non-payment result in a builder losing their entire business. Also taking the court route and following up non-paying customers can be prohibitively expensive, not to mention time consuming. It’s simply not seen as an option for many.
Unfortunately, going to court is a last resort for some but here’s what you can do to prevent the situation reaching that conclusion.
Creating a contract for every job you do can be time consuming but in the long term it could save you countless hours of stress, not to mention thousands of pounds.
Agreeing with the customer beforehand what is to be done, for when and how much it will cost in a legally binding document is one sure-fire way of ensuring payment and fewer problems on jobs.
Of course, we realise that you’re not a lawyer and would rather get on with what you do best.
But there are contract templates available for free that do the hard work for you.
When customers choose a builder they usually do their research.
They ask around for references or use online sites like checkatrade.com to make sure they are reliable and aren’t cowboys.
Builders understand the importance of reputation and references, and recommend customers always use reputable tradespeople.
But why should this only be a one way process?
If you’re entering into a business relationships with someone, you have every right to know a little bit about their background.
You are as entitled to know if they are in a position to pay as they are to know you’ll do what’s agreed.
There are numerous online credit check companies that let you check customer’s credit ratings, so you can be sure they are in a position to pay.