Burned by Bad Customers? New Website Lets You Warn Other Business Owners

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I recently went through the experience of reporting a dishonest business to the Better Business Bureau. Then I went on a bit of a rampage and left bad reviews on a number of consumer websites. It made me feel better to vent and I hope I saved others the misery of working with that company. There are plenty of places for an upset customer to complain – but what about an upset business owner?

An article in MYBusiness magazine features a new website that allows small business owners to review bad customers. According to the article “BadConsumers.com is a new members-only website that allows small business owners to write reviews about customers who are dishonest, don’t pay or are difficult to work with.”

The tagline of www.badconsumers.com is, “Because the customer is NOT always right”.

This site gives business owners a place to check on consumers and potentially avoid getting involved with “problem customers”. The site is currently offering a free six month trial but membership is restricted to business owners with a valid Tax ID number.

My first thought is that the person who developed this website must have gotten really burned in the past. It turns out the creator of the website is Peter Robideau, the owner of a NY based technology support company. In a Business Week interview Robideau said, “I have 7,000 customers on Long Island, and most of them are great. But there are a handful out there who are repeat offenders, and they only do it to small businesses because they know you don’t have a room full of lawyers to sue them….. It’s not that they can’t afford to pay you. They’re like rich kleptomaniacs.”

Yep, he has gotten burned. And now he wants to get even. And I can’t blame him. In my opinion this new website is kind of the equivalent of the embarrassing “board of shame” at the supermarket that shows the names of people who have passed bad checks. And I say, go for it! Small businesses owners need to protect themselves and honest consumers have nothing to fear.

This same Business Week article reported “In a Citibank(C)survey of 750 small business owners released in September, 30 percent identified slow or delinquent receivables and bankruptcies as their greatest cash-flow management challenge. Nearly one-quarter blamed late or nonpayments for sudden cash crunches during the past year and said making a collection call was “the most uncomfortable business finance challenge,” second only to reducing staff.”

According to a 2012 NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) survey 64 percent of small businesses had invoices that went unpaid for at least 60 days.

Using a solid yet affordable ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics GP allows small businesses to track their overdue invoices easily. Smartlists and alerts keep the offenders top of mind (and clearly visible on the screen). And the “Collections Management” module for Dynamics GP takes it a step further.

One of our Dynamics GP clients in the distribution industry said “The collections management functionality (in Dynamics GP) helped Amax reduce days of sales outstanding by more than 30 days to a new record low, which translates to significantly improved cash flow.” www.calszone.com/amax-video

So you can use technology to fight back in more ways than one.

What do you think? Is this new website a good idea? Does your ERP system help you easily track and collect overdue invoices?

By Anya Ciecierski, CAL Business Solutions, www.calszone.com

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