The Practitioner: The Summer Sums

SUMMER HAS traditionally been a slow month in the practice, but with it being the hottest summer for a good few number of years it is quieter than normal.

Not that I’m complaining so much, it means I’m able to close the office early on a couple of days and let the staff enjoy the sun while it lasts.

Everyone seems to be in higher spirits – even clients – and it’s certainly a great opportunity to have those difficult chats with clients that you’ve been putting off.

But last week though I think I let the heat get to me. I upset a client massively. The client owes me money and has owed it since January.

The first mistake I made was emailing them a statement, together with a few words about how I’ve pulled out all the stops to help them in the past to meet deadlines, how I’ve reduced my fees to help them when they were in difficulty, and how I would have expected prompt payment in return.

In hindsight I should have called them on the phone to chase the money. It would have been harder for them to say no.

When the client replied back saying he still needed more time to pay, and he was disputed the fees that’s when I made my second mistake: emailing them back with an angry response.

To be fair, if you laid all the facts on the table, I am probably well justified to have a rant. I mean, who wouldn’t be upset at not getting paid for six months?

However, in hindsight I should probably have kept my emotions in check, given them a final warning, and then started proper legal proceedings to chase the money in.

I think deep down I wanted to get the anger off my chest, as this client had been a bad client for a number of years. We all know the equation:

High timewaster + bad payer = bad client.

The equation has been updated slightly this year to be:

High time waster + bad payer + hot office – air conditioning = very bad client.

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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