Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taking the Fight TO Them! - A strategy for taking an offensive approach to an attack on your Payroll Service

What does a small to mid-sized Payroll Service Bureau do when a, ‘National’ bureau plays rotten, lowdown, dirty tricks? What kind of tricks, you ask? The lowest, dirtiest, rottenest of them all…

Perhaps something along the lines of this:
“Oh, you don’t want to use them… we are in the process of buying their company.”

Recently I took a call from a client of mine who was at her wits end. We worked out a few strategies for her to try, as she begins to mount the counter-attack.

The scenario was a familiar one to me. I’ve had at least three of my clients relate this story, or one very similar to it to me over the past few years. What is striking to me, is the fact that the basics of the story seem to stick over the years, which unfortunately indicates a culture of bad and deceitful tactics being passed from sales rep to sales rep around the country.

Here are the basics: A national service bureau’s outside sales representative enters the client’s office to do a presentation, and of course, asks them who is currently doing their payroll. The client answers, ‘My Local Payroll Service just up the road.’ The sales rep then cleverly says, ‘Oh, we are in negotiations to buy their business right now. I can get you in early on the conversion process – ahead of the rest of their clients, reducing the risk of errors on their part as your data is passed to us.”

What does it feel like to have a company with billions of dollars in assets attacking your small business and your livelihood via one of their many minions stalking the business districts of America?

Not very good.

After the naughty sales rep finishes messing with the client’s head, one of two things are likely to happen: the client calls and demands to know why the bureau didn’t let them know that they were about to have a garage sale in front of the office, or the client knows better, tells the foolish sales rep to get out of their office and calls to let them know about the situation.

Next step, either way… the bureau owner flips their lid. Wouldn’t you?

What can you do to take on the Elephant stomping on your birthday cake? How about bringing a mouse to the party?

Contact your client. After strongly denying that you are going out of business, or thanking the client for watching your back, ask your client to put in writing, preferably on their letterhead, the story surrounding the incident

This will give you solid evidence of the offensive sales rep’s vile act and give you grounds upon which to found your complaint

Determine which national bureau is the offender, and start sniffing up the chain of command – Determine the following:
  • The offender’s name and contact information
  • The offender’s manager’s name and contact information
  • The offender’s manager’s supervisor’s name and contact information (likely a district manager)

Once you have the information in front of you, begin by calling The Offender’s boss. Now, I wouldn’t get your hopes up as you take this first step into defeating your new enemy – the boss might have taught the naughty rep this tactic.

If the manager gives you the song and dance (Oh golly! Gee wiz! That is just terrible… I’ll have a word with him when he gets back to the office), ask them for a written apology on letterhead that you can take to your client to prove that you are in good shape. If they don’t bite on this… it is time for the next phase of battle.

Assuming the worst… the boss calls your bluff (little does he know, that you aren’t bluffing), and dusts you off. Politely let them know that your client has put in writing the details of the incident and that you are certain that the district manager would like to know how unscrupulously this local office is behaving. If they back-peddle and offer up the apology letter, take it! But, it is too late for them… you still take it to the next level.

A rat is a rat is a rat is a rat.

Rats spread disease, and multiply at a rapid pace. We aren’t talking about humane trap and release here. It is time to carpet-bomb.

Wait for the apology letter to be faxed or mailed to you (if it is coming), then include a copy of it, along with a copy of your client’s statement of the incident with a polite letter to the District Manager, cc’d to whoever else might be upset by this. Your letter should be courteous, informative, and outline how you conduct business in a respectful and honorable way… sure you trade clients back and forth occasionally, but you felt obligated to ensure that the right people knew of this, surely isolated incident, of defamation.

…or, you could explore a different, but equally satisfying solution with your legal counsel.

Just to be clear… Logan is not a lawyer, nor does he want to be. The only shingle I have hanging out is the one the wind blew loose on my roof this morning. This is just the way I would play this game out. That being said, I think it is pretty safe for me to advise you to always consult legal counsel, before starting a spitting match with a multi-billion dollar company.

That’s my two-cents. Go get ‘em tiger!

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