You have worked all day. You get home, prepare your van for the next day’s work and then at some point you need to think about collecting.
Cash flow is the life blood of any business and without it, your business will not be able to operate let alone survive for very long.
Collecting has got to be the bit of the job that is least liked by all of us. It can sometimes feel like you’re going over old ground and doing your round all over again.
But in reality, we have all done it, putting off collecting for a night in with the telly.
But it is a necessary evil and grin and bear it, we do.
For me, personally, it’s a mixed bag of emotions. One of; I have got a million other things I need to be doing and believe it or not, one of excitement too! Yes, excitement.
If there is one good obvious thing about collecting and that is of the dosh you collect and the feeling you get when all of your customers are up to date.
I have a 3 strike rule; I never let customers owe more than 3 months. It works well and gives a little room to the customer should their lives be too hectic to think about my £8.
Thankfully, all of my customers are good payers but from time to time you will get the one’s that mess you about.
One customer never had any money on them when I came to collect. ‘That’s fine, I said’ I will collect next month. This domestic job was not an easy job either. We had to climb up and over a garage as there was no access to the back garden.
The months started to rack up.
The 3 strike rule kicked in. I knocked on the door where I was told to come back at an agreed time and date and the customer’s wife will pay me.
The next day I called, where I met the wife. She said that her husband has said nothing and could I come back tomorrow after she had been to the bank. Great another visit!
Actually I was unable to get to this customer at the time but I did get to them the very next day. I knocked on the door and said ‘sorry – I had to cover a small emergency yesterday, so I was unable to get to you; I am here to collect the money’.
Straight away she said she had no money. Unbelievable! ‘But you went to the bank to get it’, I said.
‘Well I have spent the money now’
‘Why didn’t you put it in a jar or put it aside for me?’
‘Look if this is a problem for you we can just call it a day on the window cleaning’. In my head I was already saying that she was clear off my list!
We had to arrange another day. In the end, I sent one of my employee’s. They had the cheek to tell my employee that they would like to cancel the window cleaning. As far as I was concerned, that was already done.
I picked up another 3 jobs that day but I wouldn’t have minded if I did not.
When it comes to collecting, I only collect from customers that are near to where I live. Work that is further away, I post a note with my details for them to send me a cheque in the post. This works very well.
I think it is also a good idea if a PayPal account is set up and added to your website. More and more customers are using the Internet to find window cleaners so the majority of people are ok with computers. A facility to pay online could be an added ease and possible USP over other window cleaners that might be in your working area.
Another idea at easing the burden of collecting, is signing your customers up to a bank standing order! The Holy Grail if you can get it. However, you will have to make sure that if you have 4 weeks’ worth of work in any given month, that any poor weather does not get you behind leaving your standing order customer out of pocket.
Recently, which is just as great, my customers have wanted to pay by BACS (through the bank, online). All you will need is to give your customer your sort code and bank details.
The transaction will take up to 4 working days. Make sure that your customer puts their house number and street name as the reference on the payment. This will make it easier when you come to allocate the payment in your book or WCP/George program.
My hat does go off to the window cleaners that have a set day, like a Thursday for collecting (for example). They never waiver from the collecting day.
It is great if you can muster the energy or have the discipline to do this, as it will keep your customers knowing when they can pay for the window cleaning, thus they know exactly where they stand with you.
When I have missed my own collecting in the pass on the very rare occasions you can find the customer taking a piece out of you as some will not want the window cleaning bill building up.
The day you choose to collect is up to you. But it would be a good idea to settle on times and days where you feel most of your customers will be at home. Try and avoid collecting after 7pm ish on any night.
Have a think of when you are usually in and use that as a guide for collecting. Week days between 5.30pm and 7pm is a good time, Monday to Friday.
If I have to collect on a weekend I give Saturdays a miss as I tend to think that people are out during the day (going town etc.) and out at night (going town etc.)
The day I choose is Sunday dinner or tea time as I figure this maximises the number of people at home.
Collecting can be like making a rod for own back. It is possible that you can set up a window cleaning business were you would never have to collect.
At the start of your business from day one you can set it up as a ‘payment by cheque service’ only (after all, you are the boss. You can do what you feel.) Your customers are then conditioned to this method of payment and I know of window cleaners that operate like this and have not had to collect in 5 and 10 years of business.
However way you look at it, the dosh needs to come in and to which ever method you adopt for your business, keeping an eye on the cash flow can never be under rated.
Thanks of reading.