The Delicate Art Of Getting Paid

Collection problems are inevitable--but manageable

John C. Arensmeyer faces a constant conundrum: How to get customers to pay on time without chasing them away. Since most clients of ACI, his $2 million Sausalito (Calif.) software company, are major corporations, his invoices often wind up in a black hole of bureaucracy. Some 45% of payments average 30 days late, making it hard to pay his own bills. Still, Arensmeyer hesitates to come on too strong. "I don't want to harm the relationship," he says. "It's a very difficult line we walk."

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