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Customer won't get back with me

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by ljones, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. Glass eye

    Glass eye Active Member

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    I rarely send out a "subject to sale" notice, but when I do it's after about a year or more. I made up this letter where I can copy & paste a photo of the mount, and a blank spot to fill in the $ amount. It's a light-hearted way of saying it's getting serious. ;D
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    I guess you do what works for you. I've been to court about 15 times in 33 years of business. NEVER lost one of them and only had ONE that I couldn't collect and that is because he died!!!! You get a judgement. Good. If the guy doesn't satisfy the judgement then you take it back to the court and the judge will make sure the guy satisfies the judgement. You have to know the procedure for it to work AND more importantly you have to know the guy has some property. A car, house, job, anything. A lien can be placed on any of it and you will get your money, PLUS interest, if you know what to do. All you have to do is take a couple of people to court so that people KNOW that you are serious about your business and you really won't have many problems. I'm not saying be a hardass all the time but when enough is enough then you must act. Every phone call, every letter, every time you wait for the guy and he is a no show YOU are losing money. I'm in business to make money, not finance someones taxidermy habit...and after my divorce every penny counts!!!!! Just sayin'!
     

  3. pir^2h

    pir^2h Retrievers give you the bird

    I once heard a saying, "Choose your battles wisely." Even if the mount gets picked up and you get your money that does not guarantee they will not be bad mouthing you from then on (but then again, maybe they won't and they just needed a kick in the butt to do pick it up, who knows?) If it a less than desirable customer it may not matter because this isn't the type of person you want to grow/sustain your business and most likely hangs with this kind of customer as well, but this coach may be a different story. He COULD have a good deal of influence on many people. Choose wisely. The wrong decision may cost more than it is worth later down the line.

    Vic
     
  4. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Glass eye, if you are sending that actual note, you are scaring the crap out of them with it. You are portraying yourself as a classic tv serial killer with that one.
    Harry, I haven't had to take it that far, as of yet, in this business but, I have had to in another and it does work, providing they have assets and care about their financial well being and credit report. Typically just a threat of a lean will get their attention.
     
  5. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Customer won't get back with me

    3bears, exactly. All you do is either file or threaten to file and something gets done. I once had a thoracic surgeon here in town that was a huge hunter. I had already done several safaris for him and then all of a sudden he strung me out for $9k over several months. I had other safaris from Tanzania and China still undone in the shop but couldn't get him to pay for the one I had done. He finally came waltzing in on Xmas eve and wanted to pay. I was so pissed that I let him have it both barrels. He paid the balance, storage fees AND a fee if he was taking the rest of his work out of the shop which he did. Come to find out his son was doing some taxidermy and he was phasing me out. To this day I regret not suiting him and promised to myself it wouldn't happen again. Now I'm not saying that you don't work with people. If they will stay in contact then that's workable but the first lie or if they go silent then the game is on!!!!
     
  6. jim tucker

    jim tucker Active Member

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    That's true, there is a limit. Actually with the info given, it's hard to make a judgement.
     
  7. catman

    catman Active Member

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    Harry, you are way too soft, you should have went after the dead guys widow.
     
  8. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Catman, you should stick to taxidermy because a comedian your aren't. Apparently your aren't a business man either. Question, why would you not want to pursuit the money someone owes you in the hopes that he will bring you something else to mount and not pick that up either? Please explain to me why you would want a customer like that? This is a curse that many taxidermists have. I had it once. You cannot bear to stand up to the public and demand that they respect you and your business. This inability to demand respect from you clientele is one reason why people are doing $300 deer heads and $200 ducks!

    People, all I did was give advise to ljones. Do what works for you. Me personally, I can't afford to have a bunch of work sitting around waiting for someone to come and pick up. In my situation, collections are a big part of the business aspect of running a business and to minimize time spent trying to collect your money is initially time well spent. Common sense must also be a factor....
     
  9. 3bears

    3bears Well-Known Member

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    Harry, I agree with you but, I do have a question. Did you pursue payment in the same fashion when you were a one man shop or did it happen after you had employees? As a one man shop, I see it as less disruptive to production to let it go, then to spend the extra time to pursue it, on a gamble of actually receiving a payment for the mount, not to mention the time for collection. I also believe many are talking about a total of $1000 or less but when in comes to thousands, then that is a whole new ball game.
     
  10. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    That's the point I brought up too. Apples and oranges when you're comparing a larger, true business with employees and payroll and rented space, etc vs. 99% of taxidermists being one man operations, far fewer incidents, lower balances owed and zero experience in going after a client that stiffed you. Harry has to take a harder stance because it makes business sense. For many of us though I contend it makes business sense to cut your losses and move on. Unless it's happening more than once or twice every few years. Then one needs to look at how they're doing business and the why's if that's happening. For me I'm stuck with my customer's fish mount in Illinois from a legal standpoint. But, for most of you (assuming you got half + down up front) you could sell the mount on Ebay and recoup much or even more of your loss. Getting at least half down before starting any work will alleviate the vast majority of people not willing to pick up. (I'll betcha Harry gets at least half down up front!). Lastly, Harry I don't think any of us that truly gets stiffed by a customer will ever want do business with that customer again. With true stiffs it's about collecting or minimizing your losses and then good riddance! No worries though because they won't be back either way.

    P.S. I thought Catman's joke was kind've funny actually Harry! Lighten up - those collections are turning you into George - lol!
     
  11. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Gentlemen, thank you for the legitimate questions and discussions. When I became more vigorous in my collections I was a single man shop. At the time I was operating like many taxidermists and wasn't pricing my work appropriately. Profit margins were certainly more critical because it was very thin so money meant something to me. I learned HOW to collect money. Like many of you have suggested you start out nice. That is a beginning tactic but you can tell by the way the conversation goes whether you will have difficulty collecting, at least I can. Then after several contacts during a two week period you inform them that storage fees will begin to apply to their balance. After 30 days you send a letter outlining your intent to collect your money. To this point I have spent no more time and effort that any of you to collect. This is when it gets tricky. First you must decide if the client has any property and if it is feasible to pursuit collections. Once the decision is made to move forward then you file a small claims suit at the local courthouse in the county the client resides. Sometimes this is tricky because they may be far away and not worth the effort. When you file, include the time it takes for filing and your travel. I charge $90 per hour. You also include court costs. So, for a $1000 balance due PLUS 3 hours it takes to file which is $270 and court costs whatever that may be AND storage fees you'll be suiting for about $1600. This will make it worth your while to pursuit collecting. In most cases the client will show up because he won't want to go through the embarrassment of showing up in court. At that point you may discount the amount you are seeking but being sure to make it where you are compensated for going as far as you have to collect your money. Soon, the word will get out that you take your business seriously and you will notice that your clientele will improve where you don't have that type that doesn't pay...
     
  12. catman

    catman Active Member

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    I can totally respect the way you choose to run your business. The fact is each persons business strategy has to Match their temperament and personality. To think that there is only one approach to an issue is a bit narrow minded. To go to the extreme you are suggesting for a puny 850.00 for a deer head is simply not a hill I want to die on. I get that it is your solution, that's cool. Personally, for me, the amount of "mad on" it would take for me to take legal action against a guy that stuck me with a deer head would eventually effect the relationships around me. I want to earn people's respect. Seems to me like forced respect is lacking something. Not saying you are doing anything wrong Harry just suggesting that one size may not fit all.
     
  13. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Catman, I have mentioned several times that you must do what works for you. I stand by that statement. Respect however is something that must be "learned" by the general public or you will have none. If I have 8 or 10 deer on the wall that nobody wants to come and get then that doesn't help when it's time to pay Mckenzie or do payroll each Monday. Maybe you have so much money that you don't need it and if that's the case then I envy you. It's not the case with me. Since you have never pursued collections in this manner you really don't realize what kind of respect you actually earn. Most, if not all have apologized and we have continued to do business. Some, however, have not been back and those are the one's that I don't want back!! If you have Insursance, retirement plans, pay taxes, mortgage on shop and home, vehicle payments, boat payments, payroll and all the other things it takes to live then I honestly can't see how you can afford NOT to pursuit collections....
    But, do whatever works for you.
     
  14. catman

    catman Active Member

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    I had a guy that asked me to hold a check until such time he had collected from one of the guys in his party for a leopard I sent in a large shipment. I started to pursue it through legal channels. What I found was I could have mounted two leopards in the time it was going to take to get judgment. So after I got over myself, I had a collection agency get it from him. It was about five grand and it cost me $1,500 to get it collected. It was well worth the hassle. I in no way condone being a doormat, but a deer head to me is 1/10 of 1% of annual accounts. I suppose if I had eight sitting on the wall I might feel differently.
    If you put a gun to a guys head, and you ask him if he respects you, and he says yes. Does he mean it?
     
  15. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    I would bet fear is also a motivator too when they see the summons - lol! I would bet your court system there is far less taxed and must be a breeze to get through vs. around here. Go to court just once in Joliet or Chicago here and you would rather stick a fork in your eye with the time wasted and beuracracy. Heck, half the time they'll have the wrong court date vs on the docket! They just love to F with people around here. Plus, it'll take you twenty minutes just to walk each way to your car where you can pay to park! That's after the thirty minute ride for ten miles of traffic to get to the parking areas. I have only been to one other court system out a ways from here and it was a breeze. People were people vs the aholes we have around here. I believe they make it a major hassle for everybody involved around here to try to set people straight. My kids speeding tickets btw - lol!
     
  16. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    Catman, I don't really understand you analogy and don't think it applies here. If you have to ask someone if they respect you then you can assume they don't. Respect is shown, not voiced. You have to understand it's just business, nothing personal when collecting money. If I have a $5K check that's no good I can collect it easy. First, it's a felony. Take it to the County Clerk and they will collect it for you. If you paid someone $1500 to do that for you please call me next time!!!! They made about $750 an hour!!!!

    FishArt, all you do is add the time no matter how much it is. What you described is less than 2 hours!!! Stay off Taxinet for a day!!!!! You can pay for it!!! Lmao
     
  17. ljones

    ljones 1994 wasco award winner

    Thanks for all the advise everyone I think at this point I am going to wait him out for a while and hopefully he will pay up.. The main thing that gripes my ass Is knowing he is getting my texts and voice messages and has a cell phone on his hip and is choosing to ignore them.. I don't care what he does or how busy he thinks he is he could take a minute at get back with me.. And I he dosent I am going to pull the antlers off the mounts put on a set of our replicas and sell them to get my money
     
  18. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Now that one made me actually LOL Harry! You are SPOT ON with this one!!!
     
  19. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

    :) :) :)

    Thanks guys for the conversation!!! I've got to get back to painting turkey heads!!! All of you have a great week!!!
     
  20. FishArt

    FishArt Well-Known Member

    Actually, from what you're describing you really don't know for sure if he's getting the messages. He could have changed his phone number and forgot about you. If I were you, I'd send him a regular old snail mail typed letter stating you're having trouble contacting him about his completed mount(s) and that payment is due in full within 30 days. Just to be certain. And give him your address where he can mail the check for the final balance if picking up promptly is a problem for him. Tell him to please call you to work out the logistics of arranging a pick-up time. If still no response, send the same letter via registered mail this time and this time mention storage fees and how much per day will be added if final payment is not received by so and so date. My money says he will respond with one or the other of these letters and his problem is probably finding the time to pick up. Hopefully, payment for him is truly not an issue. Then, if still no go and depending on what you state in your contract you can either take him to court or send a final registered letter stating again that payment in full is due plus storage fees by so and so date and if not paid in full by this date all deposits and his mounts will be forfeited and become your property per the signed contract... Or sell them on Ebay then!