Collecting an overdue bill from a healthcare client is a delicate dance: You want your money, but you don't want to alienate a customer. According to healthcare PR agency executives, the secret to maintaining a good business relationship with a client is to first discover the reason for the client's failure to pay by expressing concern for his well-being, rather than for your money. Typically, a client will offer one of three explanations for not paying: He's been remiss in making the payment (in which case a gentle prod from you should do the trick); he has a problem with the bill that he's been reluctant to broach (in which case you resolve the matter as quickly as possible); or he's having financial difficulties (in which case you work out a payment schedule). "If polite attempts don't work, press harder-just how hard depends on how valuable the client is to you," said Julie Wang, CEO of Wang Associates, a healthcare PR firm in New York. "If you're eager to retain his business, tread gently, with a veiled threat to curtail future dealings.

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