wholesale client non-payment

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by alisha nicole, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. alisha nicole

    alisha nicole

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    I see there've been some threads regarding non-payment, but nothing that really directly addressed a situation exactly like my own at present.

    I have a wholesale and retail baked goods business; it's been operating for two years and some months, and will be its own proper storefront soon (hooray!). One of my faithful wholesale clients is a local coffeeshop that is likely going out of business within 3-7 weeks. Owned by a (divorcing) couple living states away, run by a very capable managing barista and roaster. I have one remaining check due-- the only problem is that they already bounced over $400 in payment. They owe me about 500$.

    I'm very familiar with the acting manager, and she's informed me that their salaried paychecks also bounced, and that there is basically no money in the work account. The owner, we'll call him "Bob," is hoping that a familiar of his in this area will have a grant come through enabling him to buy roasting equipment, train with Bob's staff in roasting here, etc., etc.

    Losing the regular order sucks for me, as I was planning to use my wholesale accounts as the anchor in my rent payment-- but hey, these things happen all the time. The real problem is, I don't have time for Bob's friend to wait for some mystery grant that may or may not materialize (and when?) when I'll be getting a key to my storefront in.. oh.. a week? That 500$ is a quarter sheet countertop convection oven, or a prep table, or my upstairs subflooring and linoleum. I need it.

    I don't want to contact a lawyer; I've considered contacting his wife, as she is 50% owner, but I also don't want to complicate someone's divorce proceedings. How do I stress to someone who feels confident that money will come if he just waits, that I absolutely cannot wait, and need the money. Now.

    Give me my money. It's my money. Give it to me. Now.

    Help, cheftalk.
     
  2. lagom

    lagom

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    Payroll bounced? Your payment bounced? Outstanding bill due? I sure hope you arent sending any more product to these people. Yes you need to contact the co owner, it's business. Also get a check for the outstanding 500$. Present all for payment to the bank until they have" do not present again"'stamped on them. Then turn the checks over to the local court. You dont need a lawyer as they will be charged with worthless check charges. There is absoutlly no reason to feel bad or sorry for them as i assure you if you paid them or any other business with a bad check the same course of action would be comming at you.

    As to the person with a grant comming thru in a few weeks, i would bet big odds against that being anything but smoke and mirrors.

    Please take this in the way I mean it( positive advice) if a 500$ payment, being late or uncollected, is a hardship for you to get your business going then you're going to have a very rough time. Maybe you should rethink expanssion until you're in a more positive cash flow position.

    Sincerly best of luck to you.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
    spoiledbroth likes this.
  3. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Sadly, I think Lagom is correct. Running a business is a tough activity. 

    Just remember you get more flies with honey than vinegar. The grant story may or may not be smoke and mirrors. In any case, keep pursuing the debt as nicely but firmly as possible. As they say in the Godfather, It's not personal, strictly business. 

    And I'll second Lagom-$500 should not make or break you.  Get another customer as soon as possible and learn the lesson that relying on one big account for your income is risky. 
     
  4. alisha nicole

    alisha nicole

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    i am no longer supplying them product; nor would i expect them to even try to order again. really, i just want to get my money without going straight to court or requiring an aggressive tone.

    while i appreciate the concern regarding expansion, not moving forward is a non-option; and a 500$ loss isn't going to put the kibosh on the buildout or opening, but 1. of course i could use it and 2. it is money owed for a product/service provided and i should be paid.

    i realize court will likely take longer, which i'd like to avoid; and i don't really feel much sympathy in the direction of the business owner(s), i just want to approach them in a way most conducive to getting paid and not triggering some kind of meltdown. i don't have time for it. i've got enough to take care of right now.

    in reading your responses, i'm thinking the only real option is: contact both owners directly, request immediate payment, and if they react negatively-- walk it on down to the courthouse.
     
  5. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
    Get in line now as they just may be paying all those other wheels while you dither about being PC.
    Hopefully they are still with enough funds to settle with you.

    That is something you will need to think about you know.....what amt will make you happy.
    Have a figure ready and don't hesitate to offer a discount .
    Will be the fastest route to get something rather than weeks and months of back and forth and then ending up with a "fair" amt decided by a judge.

    mimi
     
  6. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    As many have stated before, this is business, not personal.  You provided a product and now you expect to be paid for that product.  We can can talk about passion, art, creativity, etc., but being a chef, baker, etc., is a business and it is not unfair of you to demand payment for what you have provided.  Call the wife, demand payment, get what you are owed.  I would agree though, that before you threaten legal action that maybe you do offer them a discount, that way you might recoup some of your money, because if they end up going into bankrupcy you might never see a dime.  Best to at least recoup your cost.  And then let them know, in no uncertain terms, that if either of them ever wants to do business with you again, it will strictly be on COD basis.
     
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Put a lein on the place as fast as you can before he files chapter 11. This way you can always get some equipment out of there. Make up your mind to the fact that they are not going to pay you and treat it accordingly. You could send a visitor to collect?!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
  8. spoiledbroth

    spoiledbroth

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    You need to be aggressive, as they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Why do you need to treat a former customer delicately? In case they open a new business and want to order from you? You sound like money is very tight. You need to look out for your own interests because other businesspeople won't.
     
  9. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Mmmm... checks bounced, payroll bounced, (soon to be divorced)owners in another state, and I'm guessing rent checks are bouncing too.

    Smile, nod, and cut your losses.  Approach the barista and ask them if they can "donate" you any product or equipment worth $500.  I'm serious. It's the only way you're going to get anything worth something.  Be nice to the employees, in all likelihood you'll be dealing with them in another venture at another time.

    Don't bother with any legal action, it isn't worth it. Even if you wanted to, you'd have to file a claim and that would cost you money to do so.  Same with a lawyer. 

    From now on your name is :

    C.O.D.!

    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt ( and also a collection of beat-up coffee air-pots and a case of disposable coffee cups, lids and sleeves....) 
     
    grande and spoiledbroth like this.
  10. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Ypu do not need an attorney to file a lien. You file it with a fee I paid $10.00 in Florida. With the county clerk at the courthouse and got what I was owed.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  11. foodpump

    foodpump

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    yes, but lien on what?
     
  12. alisha nicole

    alisha nicole

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    i understand that if i hand everything over to the courthouse, there will be an order issued by a judge that i be paid. only when that order goes unanswered can you place a lien; and i believe the lien is on the building. however, my returned check fees will only appear on my account at the end of this month, so going to the courthouse is going to be a longer process.

    i confirmed all numbers with the bank, and contacted the owner but am waiting to hear back. his manager had mentioned barter previously, so i indicated that there's a bulk grinder, hot water tower, handsink, and prep table that i'm interested in. 

    i get along great with the employees and have gone out of my way to work amicably with the manager in solving the problem; i don't think she's any less frustrated than i am, and i realize it's completely out of her control.

    if i can't get him to engage, and don't hear back from him, i will turn over documents to the court at the end of the month. i reckon it's all i can really do. and find a bank that's closer, so that i'm not depositing checks every other week, sometimes less frequently.
     
  13. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Sounds like a plan....
    I also think (esp since you are in a small town) using local services as much as possible is a sound business decision.
    A bank on your town square would IMO be ideal if at all possible.
    I like how you have taken little pieces of many posted ideas and come up with a solution that is a good fit for you.

    Come back often ........
    mimi
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  14. foodpump

    foodpump

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  15. alisha nicole

    alisha nicole

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    the owners of the business rent from a landlord and live out-of-state having left a trained manager and roaster, respectively. according to what i've read, the lein is not necessarily on the building, rather any of the business's actual property contained therein; any assets owned by the business. and yes, i'm hoping to avoid any similar dealings in the future. i'll be cashing checks at the accountholders' banks within 24 hours from now on. 

    cheers to that.
     
  16. panini

    panini

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    can't tell you how important it is to get a DL on everything. Especially  checks. Run it over to the DA and it's taken care of
     
  17. spoiledbroth

    spoiledbroth

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    Da?