I was recently contacted by a small operator in Boise regarding a potential story for LCT Magazine. Unfortunately, it will never make the magazine. It is an all-to-familiar tale of a big kingfish operator preying upon a little operator.
Here’s the story with a moral at the end. In the 1990s, big companies like Music Express, CLS (not Empire/CLS), Dav El, Carey and other large networks financially exploited little guys like me. I was so eager to get “in” with the networks, I would gladly take their last minute rush orders and invoice them hoping for more work and more invoices.
Music Express and the original version of CLS were not bashful at all about telling you their payment terms were Net 60. If you wanted to play ball with the big boys, that is how the game was played. It was not uncommon for payments to take 90-days. If you made a stink about it, they would simply give their work to someone else in your city and punish you for even asking about the money.
Well, at some point, after nearly reaching the point of bankruptcy and taking a few financials baths because companies such as CLS fell from grace and left me holding the bag, I said, enough is enough.
I am in the business of providing transportation services. There are companies such as Capital One and American Express that are in the business of financing. I figured I would let them do what they do best and I would do what I do best. If you want to use our service, you pay up-front. I don’t care who you are, how big you are, how long you have been around — it’s money up front before the garage door even opens.
That’s right! We run the card for the estimated amount BEFORE the run. I don’t ever have to worry about seeing the dreaded “DECLINE” message after the run has been performed. If we owe them money at the end of the ride, we refund them promptly. Some affiliates get mad, but if they knew the road I have been down in the past 24 years, they would understand.
Now, back to my friend in Boise…..chances are there is no signed contract in place. There was no client signature obtained. There is no back-up credit card on file for delinquent accounts and the bottom line is, the $1,300 balance will be an end-of-year bad debt write-off. That money will never, ever be paid. In a conversation with LCT Publisher, Sara Eastwood about this situation, she advises, “Today is a whole new world and you better have your bases covered.”
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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