Before the invoice is due
- Have a system in place to chase for late payments. Make sure you have a credit policy in place, to ensure that all outstanding invoices are paid as quickly as possible and those that do not pay on time are chased.
- Make sure your customer is aware of your payment terms and make sure these are enforced. You should also have contracts from all your customers agreeing to these contractual terms. Your credit terms should be clearly stated on all invoices as a reminder to your customer as to when payment is due.
- If you have issued a customer with a large invoice, call them up before payment is due to make sure it has been received and there is no query. This is good customer service and pre-empts any possible delay in payment.
- Make sure people in your credit control team are equipped for the task in hand. Making someone responsible for credit control will ensure that it will always be done.
After the invoice becomes due
- In the event of non-payment, immediately implement your procedure for chasing payment. Whether this is by way of letter, email or telephone call, it is important to stick to your collections procedure.
- Deviation from your collections procedure will set a precedent by allowing certain customers more time to pay or to become persistent late payers. However, be prepared to act more quickly if the amount is large or you are concerned about the customer.
- Be polite but assertive about what you expect and when you expect it. Make sure the consequences of non-payment are made clear and follow up promises to make sure they are met.
- Remind your customer of your entitlement to claim interest in the event of non-payment.
- If your customer does not pay the outstanding invoice, do not increase your exposure. Stop supplying any further goods or services. If the customer needs your product or service to run their business, cutting the supply may be exactly the leverage needed in order to persuade them to settle the invoice.
- If a customer persistently pays you late or makes excuses, check them out (Know Your Customer) and consider whether you should continue supplying on credit terms. It may be better to lose an order, or even the customer, than to supply goods and not get paid.
- Be flexible on large, outstanding amounts and be prepared to offer flexible payment terms. Whether this means regular instalments or simply splitting a bill into two manageable chunks, in some circumstances it may be your best chance of payment.
- Keep a record of all collection activity; you may need this information at a later date.
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