It’s been a while and I had to get a new password. Been sorta busy, lots of depositions, hearings, negotiations rehabbing several houses and also engaged in ferrying various aircraft around and wife has delivered ultimatum that flying will end when I turn 75 (January 2007). Over the past year or so I have noticed a change in the quality of the EC’s that I deal with in the various stages of the litigation process. They are much more knowledgeable and competent than 10 years ago. They have their “ducks in a row” when they call us in. Is this pretty general in the industry now? Spoke with one EC who said he had been burned so many times he actually has a lawyer on staff, and hasn’t been suckered in 8 years. He does projects from custom homes to small industrial and one of his methods is that if progress payments are not paid within 30 days, work stops. Volume for 2005 was over $16,000,000 with $0 losses. Volume in 1995 was $3,700,000 with losses on several jobs due to non-payment by GC’s. What methods do the forum members use to collect and stay in business? I recall an old timer once told me that the secret to success had 3 elements: 1. Collect what you are owed. 2. Take care of the work you have. 3. Obtain new work. I would think it still holds true. Rowdy
Every successful business has it's methods, and sometimes the business plans will dictate that one guy operate different from another.
In my case, I serve a select handfull of steady customers. Very little of my business is from 'unproven' customers- and most of those are 'word of mouth' referrals.
I am in the middle of trying to collect on a 'job gone bad.' In this case, I suspect that I just had the bad luck to be there when this guy had a mental breakdown. I doubt there's much that can be done to protect against THAT risk; thank heaven it's a rare event.
Just as every homeowner wants to be buddies with an Electricain, every Electricain should be buddies with a Lawyer. It's an unfortunate part of doing business these days.
The last time I was burned (about 3 years ago), it was for $30,000. I made the mistake of trusting the homeowner on a build, and perfroming extra work without writing up everything. It was a learning experience that I would hope to help others avoid.
Keeping your "ducks-in-a-row" is paramount. Keep your paperwork clean, organized, and SIGNED at every step. Give your clients 30 days to pay, or make arrangements to pay, any invoice that you have submitted, or cease work. A months work, gone unpaid, can easily bury a small business.
When a problem occurs, have your Lawyer shoot out a request for payment. It usually drives the point home better than your word might, and it saves you the stress.
Just like the other guys you hire, your Lawyer is "on your staff" to save you money, increase profit, and make your business run smoother. Allow him to be a "wrench" in your "business toolbox". Pull them out when they are the right "tool for the job".
I have chummed up with my Lawyer - I've done some work at his house, and he actually helped me move a couple of years ago. A little money spent for a letter or two will save you quite a bit of loss in the future.
Did I mention keeping your paperwork tight? It bears repeating...