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South Pork Ranch LLC
That would be me.
The bill collector, the one who decides who owes for which product, how much do they owe and when is payment due. Just another of the many fashionable hats I wear here.
Fortunately, 99% of our customers pay their bills in a timely manner. But recently I've had a couple that make me want to ARGHHHHHHHHH. Our collection process is simple. An individual will order some meat, perhaps a 1/2 hog or whole beef. We give them all the financial info. They give us a $100 deposit to hold their meat which is then applied to their final bill
They pay the locker when they pick up their meat, cut up the way they want and this runs them about 80 cents per pound. Then we bill them the hanging weight of the animal minus the deposit. Our pork sells for $3.25 a pound and our beef is $4.25.
Then they send us payment. And like I said, most send it right away. When they do not, the note I write on the second billing statement ( at least one month later) will go like this:
"Hi! I know you're busy and things get overlooked but at your earliest convenience would you send us payment for the ______?' Thanks so much
The next letter (and I usually give folks another couple weeks) goes like this:
Hi. Haven't received your payment yet. Please send ASAP. Thanks
The third letter will go out a couple of weeks after that. Please note I have sent THIRD letters to only 3 customers in the last 10 years. Many times folks will send payment just as my second notice is hitting the mail box for delivery.
Payment is past due . Send Immediately.
If payment still doesn't arrive I will call them. If they are having finacial problems I'll work with them and take partial payments. We've been known to take $10 a month, just as long as people make good effort we're happy. We truly understand how hard it is to feed a family, or how devestating it is to lose a job. But if they don't return our calls or if no payments at all, even a small portion of the total bill, I will send send a third letter and suggest small claims court. I have only done this twice in ten years. The first time was two years ago and payment in full appeared quickly. "Quickly" as in 6 months after the individual had picked up and presumably eaten the meat she ordered. Needless to say, we won't provide her any more product .
This past year we had problems with a restaurant paying us. Keep in mind this is the ONLY time we had trouble with a restaurant and we sold direct to over 12 restaurants for a period over three years While providing to this particular eatery, they were often weeks behind in payment, then it became months. Then they called and said they had new management and would send payment in full.
They did not.
More letters from me and many phone calls as well and then the small claims court suggestion. They sent approximately 1/3 of what they owed us. The bill now 18 months old. The remaining amount was just under the amount required to file in small claims court in Cook County. Hmmmm, seems like the restauarants owner had played this game before. Hiring a lawyer would have cost us more than the amount due. So like so many other small business have to do when they've been
Yes, I could list the restaurants name here in my blog but why take the chance of being taken to court for slander? Instead we'll just tuck the whole experience into our "lessons learned" bucket. From now on all restauarants will have to pay COD. But since we rarely deliver anymore direct to restaurants the issue is DOA.
The experience did not sour us though on other customers who are the cream of any retailers crop. Often folks will send payment BEFORE I send the final bill. Many times our customers leave MORE money in the till than they owe and often our new customers come directly from referrals made by present customers.
Our bad apples are indeed minute. So tell me, other small farmers out there. How do you handle sales and payment for your carcass meat ? Would love to hear your experiences, your requirements for deposits and payments if you'd like to share. Write a post about it and link to it from my blog if you wish or just leave info in the comment area. Can't wait to hear from you.