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Accounts due by 28 July

How to deal with a procrastinator

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It's always tough getting Mr Bloggs to provide information for the usual 50 unreconciled bank items. 99% of them will be business expenses, but I'm not sure what most of them are for. He's had a list of queries for the past month and although he told me he's been working on them I've not had anything from him.

This year apparently all the subbies are gravely ill, he's been in a minor car crash etc,etc. Last year another set of fantastic reasons, but who cares.

I've told him I don't want to have a nervous breakdown and will not do everything at the last minute as 50% of other clients want me to do the same thing. I'm going to send an email at the end of this week discussing the penalties from Co HO and HMRC and saying I'm not responsible if he's late, as he must also take responsibility. And after that I will turn to clients who have been good enough to send me stuff in good time.

What is your method for dealing with this typical behaviour? (No - I can't afford to sack him).


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01st Jul 2019 18:24

You are doing too much.

Id just set a deadline, ie by Friday or something, and say "your problem mate"

They pay the fines, not you, so don't worry about it.

O and make sure they DO pay the fines once in a while, even if you could have done it.

Thanks (4)
By frankfx
01st Jul 2019 18:28

If you can not afford to sack him .
You may have to bite your tongue.

Such clients have a tough shell of business ignorance , that is resistant to courteous requests for co operation.

Myers Briggs Personality Types..... check this out.

In which sector does your client lie?

Imagine he is a Donald Trump . Nothing you can do will his change behaviour. It is embedded .

You run a real risk of having your own standards twisted and distorted ………all for an outlier client?

Win the lottery this week, and you will then be able to write the letter of your dreams.

Good luck !!

Thanks (1)
By SXGuy
01st Jul 2019 18:48

Inform him deadline prob won't be met and advise of cost then chill. Ain't your problem. Its done when it's done.

Thanks (3)
01st Jul 2019 18:58

28th July ? Sounds like you've already shortened the accounting period more than once.

Up to him to get the stuff in on time. Give him a deadline that gives you enough time for you to do your bit and leave it to him.

If he does get a penalty, tut sympathetically and point out that it'll be double that next year.

Thanks (3)
01st Jul 2019 19:09

If you can’t afford to sack him then you probably need to find another vocation. There’s little point being in practice if you are effectively a paid lackey. You might as well work in a bank.

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By zarar
01st Jul 2019 19:24

Personally I'd get shot, but failing that, tell him you will assume they are all personal unless you get a reply by Monday 9am

Thanks (5)
02nd Jul 2019 09:12

All good advice - thank you!

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02nd Jul 2019 09:23

The question with this type is " does he pay you promptly?". If he is a nightmare then get shot. If however he pays up on a full recovery basis, then it is worth a bit of hassle.

You do need to remove yourself from being the 'piggy in the middle' to an adviser on the sidelines, who points out what's needed, sets the timescale and the implications if he fails to deal with stuff.

I often liken our business to a garage, do you think mechanics lose sleep if you let your MOT expire?

Thanks (3)
to Vaughan Blake1
02nd Jul 2019 09:41

Yes he does pay me promptly, upfront. Anyone who doesn't gets shown the door.
I've just sent him what I've described to him as my last chaser, setting out the penalties.
I don't see myself as similar to a garage mechanic.
I do agree with you about trying to remove myself from the piggy in the middle scenario.

Thanks (1)
02nd Jul 2019 09:52

Just had response to my list of queries.

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to Moonbeam
02nd Jul 2019 11:32

Is he on Aweb?

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03rd Jul 2019 14:48

Does your L of E have anything suitable in it covering you if things ever become difficult - requiring delivery of records within X months of year end.

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to JD
03rd Jul 2019 23:29

Yes, I think I show that records have to be with me within 4 months of the year end, but no-one pays any attention to that!

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to Moonbeam
04th Jul 2019 09:29

Moonbeam wrote:
..... but no-one pays any attention to that!

Well, they will when you point out that the client has failed in his very straightforward obligation.

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04th Jul 2019 12:53

We're toying with the idea of adding additional charges dependent on when the client provides the requested information e.g. self assessment info received November - £25, December - £50 and January - £75. Could be applied to Ltd companies but based on their accounts deadline instead.

I think I struggle a bit with the morality of it though, as it is essentially money for nothing. But at the same time if we need to pay overtime to get things completed before deadlines it needs to be recovered. It would be cheaper than them getting fined and would hopefully encourage most to send things in on time.

In reality we just need more "good" clients.

Thanks (1)
to 2003bluecat
04th Jul 2019 13:13

This puts you in an awkward position where if records are delivered late, the person is absolved of any wrongdoing by paying the fee for being late.

It can be a far more effective tool to push back and complain about the lateness of the records and put the moral responsibility on the client.

If you're not happy doing that then by all means charge extra, but make sure you charge enough that you honestly won't mind if they do come in late because otherwise you're making the situation worse rather than better and could end up with more latecomers rather than fewer.

Thanks (1)
to 2003bluecat
04th Jul 2019 13:29

2003bluecat wrote:

We're toying with the idea of adding additional charges dependent on when the client provides the requested information e.g. self assessment info received November - £25, December - £50 and January - £75.

Trivial amounts like that aren't enough to change behaviour.

Thanks (1)
to lionofludesch
05th Jul 2019 16:45

I would argue it's relative to what one charges. And we don't want to be in the position where we would charge more for doing it in January than the client would get fined, as that's not going to encourage them either.

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to 2003bluecat
09th Jul 2019 12:21

I don't follow your logic. Charging them £200 extra to file by the deadline if they give you them in January will absolutely stop them giving you records in January and they'll either get it in earlier or wait until February, either of which is good news for you.

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By frankfx
04th Jul 2019 15:01

I once saw the " managing expectations " letter between a national practice and thier client

The timing and delivery of records for all aspects of the engagement was prescriptive.

The quality of the records expected was equally clear.

The National Practice emphasised that they wanted to offer and deliver excellent service. To achieve this client cooperation was paramount.

The letter was presented in a friendly but firm style.

Perhaps that is the first step towards moulding good clients.

Thanks (2)
By towat
05th Jul 2019 10:35

Tell him that starting in October his bill will increase by £100 per month until his accounts and SA are finalised.

Thanks (0)
05th Jul 2019 11:06

We introduced a late submission of paperwork fee 3 years ago. Additional £100 for Self Assessments not provided by 1st Dec, £100 for accounts less than 2 months from deadline, going up to £200 if less than a month. For us this was never about getting more fees - just about changing their behaviour.

Astonishingly last year we did not have to charge any self assessments the fee - we had a mad flurry the last week in November, but then had plenty of time to get everything done. January was a dream.

Accounts were not quite so successful, with maybe 5 or 6 who could have been charged the late fee, but as they provided paperwork so much earlier than before we set the fee, in most cases we waived it - which they appreciated and were very happy about.

For monthly bookkeeping clients VAT etc I charge for overtime when paperwork is so late that we have to work extra hours - as others have said if you need to work on a Saturday make sure you are paid enough so that you don't mind. Or stick to your guns and your working hours and let it be late - it is their fault not yours.

I would say letting them be fined would teach them a lesson, but some clients just don't care that they are fined. I've just learned not to lose sleep over these type of client's bad practices if they are all sleeping like babies and don't care. Where it was so bad it was stressing me out we have walked away from the client and never regretted it.

Hope this helps - and please know you are not alone!

Thanks (3)
to sallyrichardson
05th Jul 2019 11:21

Thank you Sally. It does help for me to see what others do.
I like your late submission fee idea.

I think I need to be more proactive myself by having a list of people to remind every month. Of course that's more work for me, but it should reel in work earlier from most clients.

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to Moonbeam
05th Jul 2019 12:09

No problem Moonbeam.

It may seem very obvious but some clients really did not seem to register that we have lots of clients just like them with the same deadlines, and only a small team. Now that we explain this regularly they seem to have more understanding as to why we set deadlines - and that we are not doing it just to be difficult!

Good luck!

Thanks (1)
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