When customers encounter a “bad” company, they have resources such as Consumer Reports, Angie’s List, and the Better Business Bureau to turn to. But what about small business owners? What can they do when they run into problematic customers?
As a business owner for over three decades, Robert Bodi knows from experience that the customer isn’t always right. One day, while having lunch with a friend and fellow business owner, Bodi mentioned a customer who had previously given him some trouble. His friend shared a similar experience, and the two realized that they were talking about the same person. A light bulb went on in Bodi’s head, and in 2008, he launched Business Beware to help other entrepreneurs deal with “customonsters”.
Initially, Business Beware only served as an outlet for business owners to warn one another about difficult customers. As the site grew, Bodi and his team noticed that most complaints were about defaulting customers. This insight led to the creation of the “beware letter”, which lets stubborn customers know that if they fail to pay what they owe, a complaint will be filed against them on the Business Beware website and they’ll be flagged as a “no-pay customer”.
If you’re thinking that it all sounds too simple, it is. And sometimes, that’s all it takes. When Bodi and company first crafted the beware letter, they tested it on 10 customers who were late with their payments. All but one paid.
While collection agencies take 20 to 50 percent of the money collected, Business Beware lets business owners keep the entire amount. The service isn’t free, however; users have to pay a membership fee.
A passionate entrepreneur, Bodi continues to operate other small businesses in Florida in addition to acting as CEO of Business Beware. He also co-hosts the Business Beware Show, which dishes out business humor, advice, and stories, with his daughter Ashley.