Collecting money from a tardy pet owner can be a task many are not willing to do. No one wants a confrontation and asking to be paid can feel tacky. Yet after services have been rendered to the customer’s pet, you deserve your pay. A study done by Rocket Lawyer back in 2011 showed that 1 in 4 small business owners have trouble collecting payments from late customers. How can you receive your payment without creating an uncomfortable conflict?

The first step in all of this is to have a plan beforehand—and to have a little patience. Call the customer personally. The person who is late on their payment may have forgotten and is embarrassed. At first, give them the benefit of the doubt to ease tensions. Listen to their excuse and offer a solution. Offering a couple solutions will increase the chance of the customer becoming comfortable and coming through with the payment. Even though this is not your fault, try to be understanding but not a pushover. To help with this whole process, here are some tips.

1. Make direct contact with the pet owner after the deadline is passed.

Don’t wait for them to call you to work this out. Take the initiative and call them. Explain to them plainly how much is owed and that the deadline has passed.

2. Understand how billing, credit approval, and payment processes work and how long they take.

Dog kissing the vet

This will help you get a better understanding of the customer’s situation.

3. Be patient and confident.

Like we discussed before, it is important that you listen to their excuse when you contact the customer, regardless of how you feel. Confidence will be a major key to success. Be confident that you can find a solution that is beneficial to the both of you. Remember though, there is a difference between confidence and arrogance

4. If the customer is being negligent, rude, or unreasonable, consider a collection agency.

It’s important to try to work out a solution, but if one cannot be reached, it may be time for some help. Collection agencies specialize in getting you your money. They usually have years of experience and require about 20 to 30 percent of your invoice value, depending on the claim.

5. Review legal options.

Make sure you are aware of the legal options you have and how much they would cost if you were to actively pursue them.

6. Keep a record of everything.

Keep records of all your invoices and dealings with this customer. If things get ugly, you will need proof of what transpired. A common defense of customers fighting claims is that the service provided for the animal was defective or not as promised. Make sure you have pictures and documentation of what really happened to protect yourself and your practice.

Usually when pet owners miss their payment deadline, a simple phone call will do the trick, and payment will come swiftly. But for non-compliant pet owners, have a plan ready in case things go south. These tips should help make the process of collecting your hard earned money a little smoother.