Late payment affects cash flow and when you have to chase money yourself, it can put your client relationships at risk. But there are simple ways you can make this process smoother.
State your terms
Clearly outline your payment terms in all client agreements. The standard is 30 days from invoicing, and it’s best never to begin a job without a signed client agreement. It can also help to put an interest statement on your invoice (see Still waiting? below).
If payment doesn’t arrive on time, it’s important to send your client a reminder as soon as possible. Keep this simple and polite with some set wording, so you don’t need to re-think it every time. Here is an example:
Dear (client’s name),
This is a quick reminder that the following invoice is now overdue.
Invoice Date: (insert date of original invoice)
Invoice No: (insert invoice number)
Invoice Amount: (insert invoice amount)
Could you tell me when this payment will arrive?
Many thanks in advance.
If you have lots of invoices, it can be useful to set up calendar reminders so you can chase payment as soon as it’s due.
Statement of account
If reminders don’t work – and make sure you follow up emails with a polite phone call – the next step is to issue a ‘statement of account’. This is less detailed than an invoice, but makes the client aware of the total payments due.
Legal claims and debt recovery agencies should be your last option, but it can help if you state your payment terms from the very beginning. A statutory rate of interest on debts is set in most countries by the national bank.