[thelist] Your opinion: managing clients who miss deadlines

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Thu Sep 8 07:43:40 CDT 2011

Francis Marion asked a great question about managing difficult clients.

Hi Francis!

I thought I would chime in with another technique, (that really should have been brought up already): escalate.

Get your director/partner/owner involved earlier and more often.  Make sure she knows about this and can bring it up when out wining/dining/golfing with the client brass.  These people are paid to do 'client handling' work. 

Good luck,

(I like the money idea too.  "Incent the proper behavior."  But I agree - it needs to be worded as a discount opportunity rather than as a penalty for lateness.)

[Once upon a time, I *gladly* paid "dunning" fees from a small contractor my megacompany was stiffing for payment.  (Five of us where suddenly thrown into Accounts Payable roles without any training ... so, naturally,  we didn't pay anything! <g>)  I wish I could have paid bigger penalties.  She deserved it.  Our labyrinthine administrative processes nearly killed her small business!  I then gave her the names and direct numbers for my 4 colleagues in the other divisions who were also stiffing her and walked her through what to tell them in order to get paid.]  That story may seem a tad OT, but sometimes clients are in that position as well ... pulled in different directions by reorgs and "tidal" priorities [ones that ebb and flow with phases of the moon] ... so they are not always late with stuff because they want to be or don't care.  There are plenty of opportunities for mismanagement on their end as well.  

A brass-hat-chat can, sometimes, put things back on track.

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