Beyond the Build


Getting Paid.

We are learning that it takes a lot out of us to be successful in these times. However, if one does not get compensated for the work, it doesn’t really matter. It’s one thing to go home tired. It’s another thing to go home tired and unpaid.

Therefore, our business plan is to seek out good people. We look for partners who are of character/culture similar to ours and are “properly capitalized.” That’s a term I don’t use routinely, but it’s an important one.

It means that we work with folks who can pay their bills.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I must admit in the early part of my career, we accepted more than one project that seemed too good to be true. In the end, the financial part was just that. At times, we found real difficulty getting paid. It’s frustrating to use your creative resources to seek money after doing a good job when they could otherwise be applied to a new project.

Beyond knowing the financial side of your customer or their bank, here are a few things we have learned to do over the years:

  • Ask questions up front. This shows the other side that you are heads up about the financial trail of the money.
  • Follow up. When we send a monthly invoice, especially the larger ones, we call the contact ensure receipt. This is especially important on the first bill.
  • Establish relationships. Our accounts receivable representative works to make billing more than an exchange of money. It is a person-to-person contact.
  • Say thank you. Our CFO writes or calls his counterpart when we receive a check to thank him or her. It never hurts to show appreciation. Never.
Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.