Abbott Wallis has no trouble bringing foreign tourists to the United States for his travel programs, but transferring cash from their banks to his has proved difficult. He wastes time finding misdirected funds and pays steep bank fees on foreign checks ("Across the Miles," November 1990, [Article link]). Is there a better way to secure his payments?
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We had similar problems until we began enclosing a checklist with every invoice going outside the United States. It asks customers to pay in U.S. dollars and to indicate the method of payment. An international money order, a check with a Federal Reserve routing number, or a telegraphic transfer into our account are labeled "the cheapest ways." If customers opt to pay by check without the routing number or pay by bank draft, we ask them to add $23 to their bill. Now no one chooses the latter two options.
Henry G. Burger
Overland Park, Kans
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Mr. Wallis should ask his customers to transfer the amount by telex, and he should provide them with his bank's American Bankers Association (ABA) routing number. The transfer should not cost more than $30, and by specifying the ABA number, he gives U.S. banks no excuse for sitting on his money. Mr. Wallis should also consider opening a European account if his business volume justifies it.
Shuckri IN Bundakji
Saraya Food Marketing Ltd.
Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Mr. Wallis should switch to a bank with foreign branches, ask his clients to deposit funds in their local branches, and have the funds transferred. He could also look into international postal money orders.
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Perhaps Mr. Wallis could turn his problem into an opportunity by offering to secure U.S. credit cards for his clients before they travel to the States. He could then request that his fee be charged directly to the credit card. That way, he eliminates his collection problem, provides additional service to his clients, and differentiates his company. I'll bet credit companies will accommodate his affluent foreign clients.
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The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service of the Department of Commerce (800-343-4300, ask for operator 199) will help Mr. Wallis deal with foreign banks. It has helped me a great deal.
Digital Computer Service
One of Ray Vetter's clients left town without paying him for $12,000 worth of construction work. Too much time has gone by to bring the matter to court, and the claim is too small for the state to pursue ("No Legal Recourse," November 1990, [Article link]). Is there any way, Vetter asked, to get paid?
If he wants to play hardball and is willing to risk a harassment charge, Mr. Vetter should start by sending letters to the client's bank, accountant, and customers asking for information about his or her credit. Mr. Vetter should explain in these letters that he's had trouble collecting from the client. Similar letters to credit bureaus may put enough pressure on the client to make that person pay.
Contractor Profit News
San Rafael, Calif.
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Books Are Bustin' Out All Over
The variety and amount of business literature have confounded Caldwell Davis in his attempt to set up a resource library at his business incubator. So he turned to Network readers for suggestions ("Pick of the Litter," October 1990, [Article link]). We published one reader's tips last month and since then have received more.
We faced the same problem when we started recording business books on audiocassette. We used a number of bibliographies as references, including The Books You Read: Business Edition, edited by Charles E. Jones (Executive Books, 1985); The Good Book Guide for Business, by Economist staff (Harper & Row, 1984); Good Books, by Steven Gilbar (Ticknor & Fields, 1982); Good Reading, edited by Arthur Waldhorn et al (R. R. Bowker, 1985); The Harvard Guide to Influential Books, edited by C. Maury Devine et al (Harper & Row, 1986); The Reader's Catalog, edited by Geoffrey O'Brien (The Reader's Catalog, 1989).
Lindsey Charles Anderson
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Elbiz Baghdikian wants to establish nursery schools in residential neighborhoods, for parents' convenience and children's safety. But New Jersey's "antiquated" zoning laws keep him out. He's willing to fight to change the laws, but he wonders how best to go about it ("Battling the Bureaucracy, Part II," October 1990, [Article link]).
In the short term, Mr. Baghdikian should recruit parents to find suitable sites, write and call zoning board and city council members, and appear at all public meetings where his application is reviewed. Early in the process he should also contact zoning board members individually to discuss his application and its merits, work with the city planning staff before they make recommendations to the zoning board, and meet with the people who own property that adjoins his proposed site so he can address their concerns before he runs the gauntlet of public meetings. In the long term, Mr. Baghdikian should ally himself with other local child-care facilities and work to revise the zoning ordinance.
He might want to order the Planning Advisory Service report called "Zoning for Child Care" (30 pages, $20 plus shipping), from the American Planning Association's bookstore, E. 1313 60th St., Chicago IL 60637. The information the report provides from across the nation may suggest to Mr. Baghdikian the kind of changes that must be made in his city's ordinance.