When it comes to closing a company as I did nearly three years ago there’s pain, anxiety and even grief involved on a daily basis. And if you are doing business with a company that is near the end there are often similar signs of distress. I’ve seen this with several companies with whom we’ve done business with over the years – sad to admit. Most of the time the way things were handled at the company denouement left a bad taste in our mouths and the avowal ended being to never work with the principals of the company again.
What are those signs?
Here are just a few:
Lack of communication – when things are going downhill the tendency is often to hide away and not communicate what’s happening. Calls, emails, and any entreaty is simply ignored which only serves to increase ire and frustration There could be legal reasons for this but more often it’s a combination of embarrassment, uncertainty of what to communicate and it’s easier to deliver no news than bad news. Whether it is clients, vendors/partners or both, not communicating is NOT the answer and may well destroy any opportunity there is to work with those people again.
Degradation of service – the timeliness of deliverables will slide and get later and later. Promises made are not kept. The work itself is substandard compared to what was done in the past.
Excuses, Excuses – when communications are made they are fraught with excuses as to why there are extenuating circumstances impacting the ability to deliver. The excuses can run from – ‘We’re slammed with work from a big customer (reminding you that you are clearly not one of those), ‘our team has people out’, to personal issues with those involved.
Billing issues – Watch out for mistakes in billing and believe it or not difficulties in getting timely and correct invoices. And you wonder why companies are in trouble in the first place?
Request for payment – even on uncompleted projects requests come to ‘help’ them through a difficult time by paying invoices early, partially or completely.
Even if you know the train is coming down the tracks it’s still difficult to get off the tracks and rerouted without undue stress and impact on your business. Keep an eye out for the signs so you can recognize a problem in the making as early as possible. If you have enough relationships with service providers it is inevitable that it will happen from time to time.
If you have any other tell tale signs please do let me know!