Do you have trouble getting your clients to pay you on time?
Do you have a formalised process for invoicing your clients and collecting payment?
The following steps are an example of the process you should have in place to ensure speedy payment:
- If you don’t have a contract in place make sure your clients sign up to your terms of business.
- Every company should have terms and conditions drawn up by a reputable solicitor
- You should ensure these are signed by your client on or before work starts
- These terms should cover all eventualities but at the least
- Charging – what is the fee for the service, when is it invoiced (up front, in stages, at the end etc)
- Payment – what your payment terms are and how your company accepts payment
- Queries/Disputes – what is the policy regarding disputes/queries and how should these be raised
- Any industry specific clauses (copyright, transfer of rights etc)
- Issue your invoice promptly
- About a week after issuing the invoice (or prior to the expected payment date if it’s within 7 days) make contact with the client (telephone, email or face to face) and confirm the invoice has been received.
- Check that there are no issues with goods or services received or with the invoice
- On the due date, if payment has not been received send a statement
- A statement is not a request for payment, but it will be a prompt if the client has forgotten
- If the invoice becomes 7 days overdue send a reminder letter or email requesting a payment date
- If the invoice is between 7 and 14 days overdue call the client (and speak to the accounts payable department if necessary) and query why the invoice hasn’t been paid. Make a note of expected payment date.
- If the invoice becomes greater than 14 days overdue a second letter should be sent warning of late payment charges (these should be detailed in the T&C’s)
- If the invoice is greater than 21 days overdue ascertain the reason for delay. If you have provision for ceasing work due to non payment make sure you highlight this to the client.
- If payment is still not received by day 30 you need to weigh up the risk of continuing to supply services that aren’t paid for.
Don’t forget this is business, you cannot survive on relationships alone!
At every one of these steps make sure you keep notes of who you had contact with and what was said, keep copies of emails as this will assist you when challenging broken promises.
If all else fails – Debt Recovery.
If you would like template letters/emails to send for some of these steps enter your email address here and we will forward you copies.