So it is that time of year again, businesses are scrambling to get things finished for the big Christmas shut down and, for a few days at least, you can leave your problems in the office - no chasing invoices, no worrying about cash flow, no playing the diplomat with awkward suppliers or clients.
But at the risk of dampening the festive spirits, it is only a temporary respite. Those payments you are struggling to get finalised will still be outstanding come January. But on the other hand, the New Year is always a great time to make a fresh start. So as our Christmas present to you, here is our 12-step guide to what you can do to maximise your chances of getting paid on time in 2019.
1. Be clear about your payment terms… and stick to them. Whether you are starting out with a new client or chasing a late payment, be clear and firm about when and how you expect to get paid. The odd lapse is ok, but if you let late payments go without challenging them, they quickly become a habit.
2. Notify clients as soon as a payment becomes late. Most late payments occur because of clerical lapses. Don’t be guilty of the same error by not realising that payments are outstanding.
3. Let your client know you understand your rights. The law is on your side - make sure a late-paying client understands you know that by reminding them of their obligations.
4. Remind non-paying clients that it is costing them money. The law is clear that you are allowed to charge interest on late payments plus a levy to cover any recovery costs. Ultimately, late payers are just increasing their own debt.
5. Be prepared to take action. Sometimes just the suggestion that you are prepared to pursue an outstanding debt with a recovery specialist or through a solicitor is enough to get the cogs in motion.
6. Stop supplying persistent non-payers. As well as escalating ongoing debt issues with a specialist collection professional, the toughest line you can take with a client is to stop supplying them with goods and services until they pay.
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7. Check credit reports for new clients. There is nothing in law that says you have to be paid in arrears. Get into the habit of checking the credit history of potential clients with a service like Experian before you offer to deliver a product or service in advance of payment.
8. Ask for deposits or advance payments. If it is the first time you have worked with a client, or if their credit history is poor, ask for part or full payment up front to protect yourself.
9. Set credit limits. A credit limit means that, if the level of outstanding payments from a particular client tips over a certain amount, you will automatically stop their account. Make sure use of limits is communicated clearly with all clients.
10. Make sure your own invoicing is in order. One of the most common reasons given for non-payment is that the original invoice contained errors and could not be processed.
11. Follow up issue of all invoices. A courtesy call or email after sending every invoice means you can double check it has been received, that the right person or department has it and that it looks to be correct.
12. Appreciate the prompt payers. Something as simple as a Christmas gift to clients who pay on time all year helps to reinforce the value you place on prompt payments and strengthens your bond with clients.
Good luck to everyone for 2019, have a fabulous Christmas and a prosperous and debt-free year ahead!
Over 150 Years Of Industry Experience
Our modest but highly skilled team has a combined total of over 150 years of experience in commercial credit management and B2B debt collection. From independent IT contractors to major film and TV publishers, Safe Collections has the knowledge and experience you need to get paid quickly and cost effectively.
Image "House of Parliament mit Big Ben" by Flickr user "k_tjaaa" used in accordance with CC by 2.0