So I have to use some of that with a customer of mine. Gotta send a collection letter for an unpaid invoice from last November, and I'm not great at that sort of thing. Been looking online for some samples and most of them sound kinda nasty. I'm not really a hardline kind of guy, especially in my business, and most everything I'm reading says that's the tack I need to take. Great.
On the upside, it's pretty remarkable that this is the first collection letter in 6 years of business. I have had a couple other deadbeats in the past (my past employer was one, grrr) but they eventually paid. The first, with my old employer, pissed me off badly since their delinquency came pretty close to putting me out of business that first year. Lesson learned and it's now water under the bridge. The second was kinda funny - I showed up out of the blue when I was in the area (it's about 350 miles from home) and they were ecstatic to see me since the machine happened to be down with a hard fault. "I'd love to help you but you still haven't paid me for the installation last year. Get me a check and I'll be more than happy to take care of the problem." They did cut a check, within an couple hours, and by that time their maintenance guy had fixed the bad cable. heh. They've since gone belly-up and I have no idea where that machine ended up.
I do recall one more instance, from a company that folded, but another company bought them out and I've since gotten work from the new owners after the machine changed hands. I let that one slide since it led to larger visits. It was a loss, but a small one compared to the new business I gained. If you gotta take a hit, then that seems to be the best kind.
With the current one I stopped by last month while in the area seeing other people. I talked to the controller, and handed him another copy of the invoice. Gave me a promise to "try" to pay at the beginning of May. May done come and gone so now I'm stuck sending a "WTF?" letter. This blows. That was my first order from them and I'd like to get more business in the future, especially since they're relatively close (three hours away). Maybe most frustrating is that my used parts (they were practically new), totaling around $1,500, saved them roughly $4,000 versus the cost of new. That ain't chicken feed.
I think I'm going to forgo most of the internet advice and not be as impersonal and, frankly, borderline nasty as many sites suggest. Certified mail, yes. Nasty? Not yet.