Improving Customer Payments
Here are a few steps to help you get paid promptly.
1) Invoice immediately. Establish procedures to invoice all products and services as soon as they become billable. Any delay in issuing invoices delays receipt of the amounts due.
2) Clarify payment terms. Be sure all sales-related documents clearly show when payment is due and any late fees that will be applied.
3) Use due dates instead of payment terms. “Payable in 30 days” is not nearly as effective as if your invoice reads “due on November 30, 2012.”
4) Know who processes the payments. Establish a relationship with your AP contact and send invoices directly to them. Send a brief ‘thank you’ for every payment received.
5) Send invoices electronically. This reduces delivery time, facilitates the vendor approval cycle, and makes follow up easier.
6) Define your collection plan. Have clear procedures in place for the exact sequence of steps to be taken to secure payment. Emphasize to employees that collections are a priority.
7) Send a payment reminder. On the day a payment is due, send a courtesy reminder regarding the due date. If you weren’t in the “to be paid” pile before, this small gesture may move you there.
8 ) Call them. Once an account is past due move beyond paper or electronic reminders. Phone calls are more personal. Involve other departments who also have contact with your customers; use leverage to encourage timely payments.
9) Get a commitment. “We’ll be sending the payment soon” is too vague. Get a commitment for a specific amount by a specific date. Summarize the conversation before you end the call and then follow up with an email.
10) Keep records of all correspondence, including emails, letters, & phone calls. This will allow for quick updates to customer files and management regarding status and you could potentially need it for litigation.
11) Follow up immediately if a payment commitment lapses. Contact the customer the day their committed payment is due if you do not receive it. Request an updated commitment date.
12) Engage a collection agency. Once account is over 90 days past due, consider hiring a debt collection agency.