What is this bill for?

Imagine how upset I was when my boss told me that the company had had a billing problem and my customer had not been billed for three months.  He told me I was the one who had to tell the customer.  This was the same customer to whom I was trying to sell our latest system.  My thought was, “So much for that sale this year.”  And I was right.  I was not happy at work that month.

Billing is an issue even for large companies whose bills are usually automated. In this case the bills hadn’t gone out for several months and the customer owed quite a bit of money.  My boss said the customer had budgeted for it so the money was there.  Maybe but sometimes people just look at where they are as far as cash flow and assume all the bills have been paid.

I’ve had my own experience with billing problems this month.  I had to call two different vendors to ask for the bill!!  These vendors were small businesses not big ones.  I bet I wasn’t the only one they didn’t bill.  In a small business late billing can make a big difference in the bottom line – maybe even whether the business made a profit or had a loss.

The first billing problem I had was with a company I hired to clean the grave stone at my father’s grave.  It was stained and this was the fellow that the cemetery recommended.  I called him last fall and spoke to his assistant.  When I never heard back I assumed it got cold and snowy before he got to it.

Late in February I got a call from his assistant telling me they didn’t have my address so they couldn’t bill me.  I gave her my address.  To date I still have not received a bill.  I called last week to find out about the bill and actually spoke to the man who does the work.  His excuse was he had been busy!  Maybe I’ll get the bill this week.

The second was a contractor in Florida.  While I was in Florida getting my mother ready to come back to Massachusetts I noticed there was a leak in the closet in her bedroom.  The closet is next to the bathroom so it was obvious the leak was coming from there.  I called a contractor that was recommended by a neighbor and he had his plumber come to take care of it. I explained we were leaving in 4 days.

It took a few visits from the plumber to check the pipes for leaks.  We had to leave but I called and left the contractor a message as to how to get the key to finish the work and where to send the bill.  I never heard from him.  I guess “Out of sight out of mind.”   This week I called him and he claimed he didn’t think my mother was going with me so when he went back and we weren’t there he was surprised.

He promised to get back to me with the amount I owe him.  We’ll see.  Not getting billed may look like a good thing to some. If, however the bill then comes long after the service is rendered then the customer may not even remember the service and may not pay.

For me it has been a huge inconvenience.  I have two outstanding bills and have no idea how much I will owe either of them.  The contractor couldn’t quote me a price because he didn’t know what the plumber would find.  The person cleaning the grave stone did give me a price so I know what the bill should be but still my checking account doesn’t reflect that outstanding bill and I have to remember that I owe it each time I look to see what I have in there.

Business owners who have a flawed billing process can expect to have unhappy customers.  I am really not happy with either vendor.  Would I refer someone else to them?  Probably not or maybe with the caveat that their billing process was not good.  So, the vendor might lose the business or get bugged more frequently from people who have been warned about the billing problem – not something that would make the business owner happy at work!

Need help with your billing system? 
A coach can help you to determine what is holding you back.  Is it a time management issue, an issue around asking for money, or an undefined billing process.  I can help you to get to the root cause.  Together we’ll develop a solution that eliminates the root cause.  To schedule a free consultation call me at 781-598-0388 or email me at asparker@asparker.com.

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