How to manage export clients

When working with clients who are based overseas, there are several things you should take into account - ideally, from the moment you begin working for them, rather than later in the process when you encounter a previously unconsidered obstacle.

Here are some of the main issues at hand, and how you can work around them, or even with them, to make the best possible client relationship.

How to Invoice Properly

An unpaid invoice is a nightmare we would all prefer to avoid, but you're not necessarily just at the whim of your customers when it comes to whether or not you get paid on time.

It's also important to make sure you are invoicing properly - from the moment you take on a new customer, to how you deal with late payments - so you don't lose a single penny through your own fault and poor admin procedures.

How to agree business credit terms

Whether you're in business on your own, or part of a company, it's essential to protect your income - and one of the greatest areas of risk is when you extend a line of credit to a customer.

Remember, any time you carry out work, or provide goods or services, without taking payment upfront, you effectively become a creditor.

That means you need to think carefully about several different factors, for instance:

How to credit check a new customer (for free!)

Most people have heard of credit checks - even if what you immediately think of is the background check the bank runs when you apply for a credit card, loan or mortgage.

In principle, securing a credit report from Experian on a new customer is the same process, even if you are not lending them money; any goods or services provided upfront, to be paid for later, still represent a line of credit, and a risk to you if the customer fails to pay.

But how do you know who will pay in full and on time, and who is a higher credit risk?

How to Chase an Overdue Invoice

Unless you have the luxury of an in-house credit controller - which is something even some larger firms can't afford - you might be tempted to take a head-in-the-sand approach to chasing overdue invoices, and simply try to pretend they never happen.

Sadly they do happen, even from trusted long-term customers, and that can lead in turn to some soul-searching: Why didn't they pay? Did I do something wrong? Is there no trust in business any more?

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