Professional service providers–architects, engineers, lawyers, accountants, etc.–rely on their clients to pay their invoices promptly and in full. When they don’t, it can be a challenge to pay employees, rent, and all of the other costs of running a business without the income that they have worked for. When clients are reliable and trustworthy, we are so very grateful.
In these hard economic times, many architecture firms have struggled to survive. One industry journal recently reported over 40% unemployment in the United States among licensed architects. That’s right, 40%! Those who did endure during the recession saw their “aging” of accounts receivable climbing. Many clients weren’t paying on time, or weren’t paying at all.
That is why I want to tell the story of a building owner who had the integrity to make payments, no matter what. This owner, whose privacy we will respect, was operating a small business in San Francisco. He was required to make accessibility improvements to the bathrooms of his business per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He went to a plumber, thinking the plumber could take care of it for him.
The plumber hired The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects to provide the architectural drawings to get a building permit. The plumber didn’t understand ADA compliance and was in over his head trying to do more than just the plumbing. He didn’t do the work properly and walked off the job, taking the money that the client had paid him for our services. We contacted the building owner requesting payment, and he was surprised that we hadn’t been paid already. He told us his tale of woe and we were sympathetic, but we still needed to receive payment. Instead of ignoring us, or saying “so sue me”, he said that he understood that we provided the work and should be paid. He simply asked for more time to pay. We were happy to allow him to pay over time.
That was in 2009. Over the past four years he has been slowly chipping away at the bill, which was a few thousand dollars, and has been paying it a few hundred dollars at a time whenever he could. When his check came today, it made me smile. Our Project Manager saw the name on the envelope and he too was impressed. At our staff meetings, when I report that this past due account has been reduced, it raises the spirits of everyone in our firm. That small check is touching proof that this client is as good as his word. We are sincerely grateful.
We understand that paying the invoices of service professionals can stretch your budget. Thanks for being aware that the professional, and his or her employees, are just like you, and are real people depending on your payments for their livelihoods.
Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President
The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects