It’d be appreciated if you could please settle our invoice as soon as possible
Chasing overdue invoices is something most of us don’t like doing. It feels awkward, it’s stressful, people might not like us, and customers might leave and work with someone else. But cash in the bank can be the difference between life and death in business. As they say, sales are vanity, profit is sanity and cash is reality.
Here’s a list of things you can do that will help you get paid on time. This is a general list so some suggestions won’t be relevant to your situation or your sector. Some ideas will depend on invoice quantities and how good and established your customer relationships are. Rather than looking for the exceptions or things you disagree with, aim to pick just one idea that may help and give it a go. You can come back to the list for a 2nd or 3rd idea.
- Schedule a day and time each month (or perhaps each week initially) when you’re going to check invoices issued and invoices paid. Actually put this repeating meeting in your calendar for the rest of the year – and keep the appointment!
- Regularly monitor your cash position. Measure cash collection and outstanding payments. Ensure you have a named person who’s responsible for credit control – it may be you! Have an outcome measure in place so that they (and you) know how good a job they’re doing. Recognise and promptly praise progress and good performance. Discuss invoice payment performance with the whole team. A missed purchase order on a large piece of work by a team member may have significant cash flow consequences down the line.
- Invoice promptly after work is completed rather than waiting for the end of the month. When you’ve sent the invoice, follow-up with a phone call (rather than email) and check the invoice has been received and is okay. Sort it out there and then if there’s an issue with the invoice.
- If a purchase order is required, get a purchase order before starting work!
- Ensure that proposals and purchase orders state your payment terms. Unless these are explicitly rejected then your terms stand in the eyes of the law.
- Restate your payment terms on your invoice. Include all your account details and ways to pay on your invoice.
- Make it easy-to-pay by having different payment options available.
- Change your payment terms. They don’t have to be the end of the month following or 30 days from receipt of invoice. Make them on receipt of invoice or 7 days from receipt of invoice. You don’t have to follow convention. If you have to buy goods in advance or the project is spread over a long period, ensure that deposits or stage payments are part of your payment terms and agreed.
- Offer a discount for early payment. You may want to put your prices up so that you can discount them back down for those clients who pay promptly. You’re legally allowed to charge interest for late payments. Check online for details.
- Call (rather than email) customers as soon as payments become overdue. Gain an understanding as to why the payment is late. Ask them how they’ll ensure payment is made. Gain a commitment from them. Be friendly, fair and firm.
- Get to know the people at your clients who are responsible for processing payments. . Understand how their process works so that you can adapt what you do to make their life easier and ensure your invoice get’s settle promptly. Thank them for helping and paying invoices. Remember and use their name when you speak with them. As with most of life establishing good relationships goes a long way.
- It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. Be persistent and keep calling. Keep in control. Agree what they’re going to do and by when. “We’ll get it paid as soon as we can”. “That’s great! Thank you. By what date will commit to making the payment Barbara?”
- Stop doing work for clients who haven’t paid their invoice. The business news is littered with so-called good companies going bust who takedown many small businesses with them. Think about dropping persistently poor-paying clients. They drain your energy, induce stress and distract you from better serving your good clients. Life’s too short to work with crap companies. And it’s an abundant market place so go and find better clients.
- Understand that we get the clients we deserve. If clients are poor payers it’s because we’ve allowed them to become poor payers. We’ve conditioned them well! However, we need to understand that we can change that and think and act differently. Don’t blame the client – look in the mirror, accept the responsibility and do something about it!
- When starting work with a new client always have a positioning The purpose of this meeting is to agree how you’ll work together and what happens if certain situations arise. Part of this meeting should cover payment terms and your process of collecting payment in the unlikely event of late or non-payment. Gain agreement that your process is fair and reasonable. You might even want to let them know that, whilst you’ve never used them, your process includes escalation to ABC Litigation Solicitors. Keep it light-hearted and matter-of-fact.
- Have a process for raising invoices and following up late payments. Processes (and guideline scripts and letter templates) make life much easier for you and your team. Periodically review and refine your process.
- Find a good debt-collection solicitor or agency – just in case.
- Credit check new clients.
- Attract good clients – ones who keep their commitments, pay on time, listen to your advice, etc.
So, what one thing will you commit to doing to improve the collection of customer payments?
If this is a nettle you need to grasp and would like a complimentary session to discuss it them please give me a call (07931 882 555) or message me email@example.com