Imagine that today your computer broke. They sometimes – thankfully rarely, although usually when you really need them or are in the middle of something important – transition rapidly from absolutely fine to complete meltdown.
Well, imagine that happened at work. You’ve no backup computers and the long term solution is, of course, to replace the computer. You’re going to need to buy one but when you call the computer supplier, you tell them that you want the computer now but won’t pay them until three months time.
Or imagine that you decide you’re going to all get together and have a nice coffee from the independent coffee shop near your office, sending out someone to get takeaway coffees every lunchtime. When you order them you tell the coffee shop owner that you’ll pay them in three months time.
There is an increasing trend by organisations – large organisations with tens of millions of pounds of profit – to tell suppliers their payment terms are 90 days. The supplier of goods (the person invoicing for the services or goods) dictates the payment terms; the terms by which they are either prepared or physically able because of cashflow, to delay payment.
Remarkably, there are a few potential clients who ask me to present at their conference or run workshops for them, who also tell my office that their payment terms are 90 days. I want to be clear and honest here: I find that incredibly insulting.
They are asking me to give my all; to inspire, educate and bring 13 years of experience of behaviour change to a conference, supported by testimonials and endorsement, which will have an on-going positive impact within the organisation and the respect they show for that – and indeed to their own colleagues – is to delay my payment by three months. I absolutely don’t understand it, especially given that if they needed to pay for something critical, there would exist a mechanism to release funds.
Needless to say, all of those invitations for me to work with organisations who refuse to pay on time, are declined – I do not wish to work with the minority who feel that terms like that are acceptable, morally or ethically. There is no negotiation; no flexibility – charities and small businesses pay me on time without question or problems and yet large organisations feel that withholding payment to benefit their own current balance interest, is acceptable. It annoys me greatly that anyone would even think that trying to be unfair to another human, let alone a supplier whose service you have identified would benefit you, is okay. It’s not.