Over the last 33 years of owning and running a business, if I have ever dealt with anyone who has proven themselves to be unreliable, then I will never do business with them again.

I am sure as clients of suppliers or customers of businesses we purchase from, we expect people who supply us products and services to be reliable and if they are not it totally frustrates us. So why – if you are running a business – should your clients expect any less of you? I have a poster in my office that says, “It can take months or years to gain a client and seconds to lose one”. How true is that.

It is probably one major thing that really frustrates me as a business owner. I have always given great service (or would not have lasted 33 years in business) and I expect it from people who supply me as a business or a residential consumer.

We must do what we say we are going to do and if you cannot deliver when you say you are going to deliver, then you must contact your client or customer and let them know. Don’t leave them in Limbo.

If you are a tradesperson and you tell your customer you are going to be round their house at 10am, then to turn up at 3pm is really not acceptable. Firstly that customer may never use your services again and secondly they will tell everybody else. As we all know it is very easy now for us to spread good or bad news and it does literally spread like wildfire. So for your own sake and the future of your business make sure the only news being spread about you is good.

If you owe someone money and you cannot afford to pay them, tell them why. They will appreciate you for being honest and be more likely to give you some leeway. During the recession in 2008/9 my business was unable to pay suppliers when we needed to pay them but we always kept in touch and paid them something if we could not pay the full invoice and every one of our suppliers worked with us and helped us through this tough time. If you avoid talking to them and keep promising to pay them and don’t, your credibility has gone straight down the drain. Someone I was speaking to only today had that situation with a client who owed her money and keeps avoiding her. We have to learn from these situations and make sure we do not let it happen again. Make sure you put processes in place that minimise the chances of people owning you money

In the 33 years of running a Million £ business, I have only had 5 bad debts and the total would be less than £10,000, because I made sure that from every time it happened I tightened the systems to minimise the chances of it happening again.

Being reliable in EVERYTHING you do is paramount.

If you are struggling in your business and need help from someone who has been where you are, then drop me a message. I am a Knight who has been in business for 33 years and have the battle scars to prove it and am now on a crusade to help other small businesses fight and win those battles.

This article was first published on LinkedIn by Richard Knight on 27/01/2020