Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Invoice left unpaid from foreign branch of good national customer: what to do?

PreviousPage 2 of 3Next
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 15, 2021, 4:49 am

Upfront payment per project instead of per time might be possible?

Or staggered payments as the project goes on, on a "monthly billing basis"?

Maybe to entice on that plan you might offer a discount -which might still not be a loss to you because you save time and headaches in chasing invoices-.

Yes, these are all good ideas. I may be able to implement them in cases where I have expertise in the project, it would be more difficult when the type of work is rather new.

Ultimately I think more success in fee collection is going to derive simply from higher ability to recognize bad power-movers, and either significantly raise fees and implement a strong contractual frame with them (in one case this year I asked to be paid in advance) or possibly even refuse working with them.

Quote from Bel on December 14, 2021, 6:19 pm

another client (an engineer) even told me "I have lost clients by asking to be paid immediately without waiting", which I now understand was an implied threat to me;

Yeah, sounds like a power move.

A good answer might have been:

They don't sound like great clients to me. The way I see it, good work deserves timely payment. Anyway (move on and talk upbeat and friendly now)...

The "anyway" right after is to move on so you avoid getting stuck in the confrontational frame.

You send the message you're not going to roll over and submit to his power moves, but you also avoid a battle of will.

Thank you Lucio, that's awesome. The answer I had come up so far had been something along the lines of "isn't it better to lose a client like that?".

Another power move I encountered from two unrelated people (my former boss and this same engineer) was the following:

Boss/customer: "I told the client/counterparty that you are getting rich with this work, and that I don't want to pay you so much".

And in both cases they were, obviously, underpaying me (the boss) or trying to underpay me (the engineer).

The answer I thought about if that happens again is something along the lines of:

"I also spoke to someone about you, and I told him that I feel like you needed more work". [smile]

On a side note, not being able to understand and respond to these power moves ultimately led me to leave my former boss/deliberately disconnect from these people and stop answering them.

In the case of the engineer, I ultimately sent him a formal email asking to be paid all residual fees within 30 days, and he paid immediately. My former boss on the other hand still owes me 6 months' work, which I'm planning to recover next year, but that is another topic.

BTW, I tried calling the supervisor this morning, they tell me he may or may not come to the office because they are in smart-working for COVID, and suggests I send an email asking him to call back. But unless you suggest anything different, I will keep trying to reach him at the office in the afternoon and not send anything for the moment.

BTW 2: Lucio, your Power University Course and your blog are stellar. Much of what I'm doing now I learned from you. The frame "I may not be able to get you to respect me right now, but someday I will even the score" was key to my willingness to redress these work relationship and also many others of non-work nature.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Outcome

So I just tried to contact him again, and the phone operator told me:

He's in a meeting right now, and he'll be on holiday from tomorrow onwards.

I then told the phone operator I would try to contact him again in the afternoon, and he said:

I understand he's going to be in meetings all day.

Which BTW is the same thing I was told yesterday. So it's now clear he's deliberately avoiding picking up my calls.

Unless you have other suggestions (eg trying to escalate via email just to send the message that I want to be respected, or waiving the invoice unilaterally), my take is to stop now, and mark this as a (significant) loss, and a lesson learned. Thank you Lucio and Transitioned for the invaluable support.

Lessons learned

In self-reflecting, I think this outcome is not only the result of my invoicing too late, but also of other mistakes I did while interacting with this person due to inexperience; I think this was the result of a chain of mistakes, so to speak. It was probably more than I could take at the time. What makes this difficult is that I probably am still doing similar mistakes with other clients.

On a side note, trying to recall my experiences I am starting to feel that clients got annoyed by my past behavior of issuing invoices later, and ultimately discarded me for this, even in some cases where I explicitly told them in advance I would do so. I think I will try to avoid this as well in the future.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

One other related decision

At Christmas I usually send written cards to my customers. I sent this manager one last year, and before the above events I had already prepared one card for him, but I have not yet posted it.

Now I am thinking about not posting this card, to avoid rewarding bad behavior.

On the other hand, I wonder if adopting an indifferent attitude (and sending this card) could possibly shift things in my favor in the future.

On the phone would have been better of course, but you can still try to say what you wanted to say via email.

The fact that he's going to be in meetings all day is not a good sign, and it might what he told the operator to say -but we don't know that for sure-.

And email is lower odds, but it's better than leaving it hanging completely.

About the card, if you can manage to send it without getting bitter, I'd send it. If you feel very negatively about this all, then you throw it away just to remain mentally stronger.

Quote from Bel on December 15, 2021, 1:05 pm

In self-reflecting, I think this outcome is not only the result of my invoicing too late, but also of other mistakes I did while interacting with this person due to inexperience; I think this was the result of a chain of mistakes, so to speak. It was probably more than I could take at the time. What makes this difficult is that I probably am still doing similar mistakes with other clients.

That's the glass half empty look at it.
The half-full glass is that you're learning, making a lot more things well now, and that because of that things are getting better and better.

And probably the half-full glass is even more correct in this case :).

Quote from Bel on December 15, 2021, 9:56 am

BTW 2: Lucio, your Power University Course and your blog are stellar. Much of what I'm doing now I learned from you. The frame "I may not be able to get you to respect me right now, but someday I will even the score" was key to my willingness to redress these work relationship and also many others of non-work nature.

Thanks mate!
I think it also takes a stellar person to make the most out of it 🙂

Feel free to open a new post about the boss and engineer power moves if you wanna talk about it more -both are interesting scenarios-.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 15, 2021, 3:19 pm

On the phone would have been better of course, but you can still try to say what you wanted to say via email.

The fact that he's going to be in meetings all day is not a good sign, and it might what he told the operator to say -but we don't know that for sure-.

And email is lower odds, but it's better than leaving it hanging completely.

About the card, if you can manage to send it without getting bitter, I'd send it. If you feel very negatively about this all, then you throw it away just to remain mentally stronger.

Thank you for this feedback, which is very helpful. I have no attachment to sending or not sending the card, so I'll send it, as a last ditch attempt.

However, as to the e-mail, I am struggling. Ideally I would like to keep power and not lose credibility. Just thinking out loud:

Hi ...,

I tried to get in contact with you to discuss the below, and also to follow up on how it ended with the ... privacy policy project. I know much time has passed, but I want to close the loop on this and make sure no threads are kept hanging on either side.

Most importantly I want to make sure all is clear with you. So let me clarify that, if the ... company decided to ultimately not follow-up on my work on the ... privacy policy, you don't need to worry about my invoice, which I'll happily waive considering the good working relationship with you and with the ... group.

Thank you and kind regards,

I am not sure it comes out of the above, but the idea would be to anticipate my possible position if he answers, meaning: I will waive the invoice if you ask it.

Even if he does not answer, maybe the above communication could be helpful, if not with this manager, for any future dealings with the group, by painting me as an understanding professional. But I keep wondering if I would lose credibility with this.

Seems like a solid outline.

I'd change go:

I tried to call you to say hi and close this open loop (it's quicker via phone).

And drop the "how it ended with the privacy policy".

Busy people don't like discussing what's been done and dusted -and for good reasons-.

If you say that, they'll think "now I don't wanna talk to them or I'll have to explain what happened and justify our poor behavior. Plus, I get dragged into this old thing again".

That's both face-losing, and a waste of time for them.

And I might even title the email in a way that shows the issue is done.
Something like:

Subject: "Closing this old loop and... Happy Christmas!"

That makes it MUCH more likely they'll open and read.

If you title it with the old issue you make them want to hit "delete" because opening the email would equal pain for them.

If instead, you show the solution in the subject plus the good feeling of the holidays, it's much more likely they'll open and read.

Then say you've heard she's going on holiday, and that you wish the greatest and happiest Christmas time.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Lucio, that's genius advice. Reminds me of the "Mad Men" boss-level gossip scene you point out on the blog.

Let's see how it comes out:

Subject: Closing this old loop and... Happy Christmas!

Dear ...,

I tried to call you to say hi and close this open loop, as it’s quicker via phone. I know much time has passed, but I want to make sure no threads are kept hanging on either side.

Most importantly I want to make sure all is clear with you. So let me clarify that, if the ... company decided to ultimately not follow-up on my work on the ... privacy policy, you don't need to take action on my invoice, which I'll happily waive considering the good working relationship with you and with the ... group.

I take the opportunity to wish you the best Christmas time.

Kind regards,

Edit: changed "worry" with "take action" on the invoice.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Sounds good.

I'd remove "I know" which can feel like justifying and just say "much time has passed", which is a matter-of-fact statement and it's higher power.

But it's small things, otherwise good.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Just sent it, and received the "out of office for Christmas" automatic reply.

Thank you Lucio for the invaluable help, at the very least I exited in a professional way and kept some power.

I don't expect a reply, but will post here in case.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Would have been slightly better to get in before the out of office automated reply.

But the "happy Christmas" will help the most in this instance.

You've done the right things on your side, plus you've taken huge lessons learned that will make you far more effective going forward. So you can be very happy with yourself, I think.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
PreviousPage 2 of 3Next
Processing...