Mates Rates Are More Expensive Than You Think

Of all the debt situations I see in my role, one of the more troubling yet increasingly common occurrences is friend and family debts. These seem more prevalent in the trades, but we see them across all industries. This kind of debt has a particular set of challenges that we see time and time again. These are emotional leverage, lack of documentation and lack of adherence to policy. In this article, we look at why these are often not conducive to good business.

With friend and family transactions, the work done is often unquoted as there is a feeling of “they will look after me”, and usually, when the invoice arrives, and it is more than was expected, the trouble begins. Not having a quote, or better yet, a range of quotes means there is no defined value of work. Therefore, how can a “good deal” be ascertained? Being able to accurately assess the value of work done after the fact, especially without market comparisons, is very difficult. Auditors and quantity surveyors train for years to be able to do this, and still, cost overruns and miscalculations often occur with this level of expertise. How can a layperson be competent to know whether their mate “Bob” has looked after them or fleeced them? In cases like this, it often depends on the mood or current state of the relationship. 

No matter how selfless or generous a person is, we all have a ledger in our heads of favours done for and received from friends and family, often the view on the “deal “ received has more to do with the state of this ‘ledger’ rather than the actual value received. When preparing clients for disputes tribunal hearings against friends and family, it is always a struggle to focus on the situation at hand without “well, I gave him this ( water blaster/car part/ trailer), so should we mention that? 

If a quote and terms are received and accepted, all of this is removed from the situation, and it doesn’t have to severely affect or even destroy the relationship. In larger organisations with dedicated accounts or credit management staff, we see accounts for friends and family of the owners or directors sitting outside the standard credit procedure for fear of offending the debtor or their friend and family within the organisation. Depending on their involvement in the credit management procedure, the first time that the director or owner hears of the overdue account it could be 60 or 90 days down the track, making for a more uncomfortable conversation than is necessary as the debtor may not have received any reminders that could have resolved the issue.

So, in summary, if you keep business and friendship separate, you should be able to keep one without it being at the expense of the other.


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Brooke Ahern
Lower North Island Manager

Based on the Kapiti Coast in Wellington, with over ten years of success as a strategic, hands-on leader, Brooke Ahern brings a wealth of experience over his career, driving innovative revenue growth and profitability for his organisations. As Brooke progressed through his career, he developed a reputation for being creative and executing high-profile product marketing and growth strategies. These have significantly impacted an organisation’s bottom line.

After ten years of management experience ranging from business development manager to chief revenue officer for a large company, Brooke joined Debt Free Limited in 2022 after observing and experiencing the difficulties in obtaining and managing business documentation. Brooke saw an opportunity to provide New Zealand businesses with industry-leading credit-checking tools and documentation they need to mitigate/prevent future risk.

Brooke has a proven record of going above and beyond for his clients, and we are excited to have him a part of the team here at Debt Free

[email protected] | 0212262563

Mark McLachlan

Mark is an expert with ten years of experience dealing exclusively with business documentation and credit management processes. He has completed a New Zealand Certificate in Financial Services Level 5 qualification and consulted with thousands of companies, saving his clients millions.

Mark founded Debt Free in 2021 as he is passionate about helping New Zealand companies to succeed and flourish by getting paid their hard-earned money while avoiding typical issues faced in their industry. He has immense knowledge of real-life cases and how tailored credit management processes can prevent debt, address the unique demands of a wide range of industries, and remove risks and liabilities relevant to business activities.

Attending association and organisation speeches, Mark is a respected figure in the credit management industry and is a member of the New Zealand credit and finance institute.

[email protected].nz | 021 283 9027

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[email protected] | 0212839027

Josh Whitehouse
South Island Manager

Growing up in Taranaki, Josh worked in business consulting for eight years, delivering successful solutions to his clients before relocating to Christchurch and joining Debt Free in early 2022 to look after the beautiful South Island.

Josh is a trusted and valued team member specialising in business documentation, business development, credit management and account management. He has helped the companies he consulted with to implement best practice credit management processes and saved individual clients hundreds of thousands of dollars. Josh entered this space for one reason, his absolute love and adoration for people and a passion for helping others to achieve greatness in business and life.

Josh’s business motto is “there is untapped greatness in all of us. Sometimes we just need a little help to cultivate it.”

[email protected].nz0272722132


Rana searle
Office Manager

Rana started as an Office Manager when she was only a teenager and has extensive experience across many different industries, including building, horticulture and healthcare. She is a great communicator, an avid list maker, and always plans things well in advance.

Rana is super helpful, caring and kind and is a perfectionist when it comes to documentation. She has an incredible eye for detail and thrives on getting stuck in and succeeding. Rana prides herself on being people-focused, loves motivating others to be their best and always puts her client’s needs first as she genuinely cares and wants the best outcome.

Rana is always smiling, has a proven track record, is a natural-born leader who loves managing a team and genuinely loves to help whenever and wherever she can. She is passionate about our purpose to make sure New Zealand businesses flourish and grow. Rana loves being able to help the people behind those businesses feel safe and secure to succeed and is a big part of the Debt Free team.

[email protected] | 0212226425