As a business owner, late payments from clients and customers can be highly problematic. As well as disrupting your cash flow and threatening the financial health of your enterprise, late payments cause a lot of hassle and headaches. Fortunately, however, you can take steps to ensure that clients pay their invoices on time. By being organised and employing the following techniques, you can keep late payments to a minimum and improve your cash flow.
Put a Clear Process in Place
When you sign a new client, it’s all too easy to get carried away and forget about the practical details. Whilst a new project is undeniably exciting, it’s essential to get clear on the practicalities of getting paid. During the onboarding process, make sure that you ask the following questions:
- Who should I send the invoice to?
- What is the approval process?
- Who do I speak to if there’s an issue?
Take time to review and agree to the payment terms, and ask any questions if you need clarity. Handling the payment details upfront saves so much time and hassle in the future and dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll be paid on time.
Make Sure Your Invoices Are Clear and Accurate
Your invoices must be easy to understand with a transparent pricing breakdown. It’s also essential that they’re accurate; mistakes result in many unnecessary back-and-forths and are likely to delay payment. Sending clear and accurate invoices goes a long way in helping you to get paid on time.
Send Follow Ups
No one likes to feel as though they’re nagging, but it’s necessary to remind clients and customers when an invoice is due soon. It’s essential to be polite and friendly but firm. Many clients don’t mean to pay late, but they’re busy, and it simply slips their mind. A follow up a few days ahead of the deadline is a very effective way of jogging their memory and prompting them to take action.
Use Invoicing Software
Keeping track of invoices and deadlines often feels like a full-time job in itself. However, it’s essential to send invoices to clients on time; how else can you expect them to pay on time? Furthermore, you need to keep a close eye on whose payment deadlines are approaching and so that you can send follow-ups if necessary. Using invoicing software will automate much of these processes, saving you a significant amount of time and hassle.
Invoicing software allows you to create custom invoicing workflows, automate payment reminders and alert you to which clients have and haven’t paid; this puts you more in control of your finances and reduces the margin of human error within the invoicing process.
Consider a Late Payment Charge
If late payments continue to present a problem for your business, consider introducing a late payment charge to incentivise your clients to pay on time. No one wants to pay unnecessary overdue fees, so this is an effective way of ensuring that your clients pay their invoices promptly in the future. Be transparent about these fees from the beginning to ensure that clients understand they will be charged extra for late payments. Make sure to send reminders ahead of time to allow them to avoid these fees.
Don’t Feel Guilty
In particular, new business owners often feel guilty about sending invoice reminders and chasing up late payments, but remember that you have every right to be paid for the products or services you provide. Whilst it’s OK to be empathetic towards clients who may be struggling financially, that responsibility doesn’t fall on your shoulders. The financial health of your business must remain your priority, so never feel guilty about chasing up outstanding payments.
Being organised goes a long way in ensuring that your invoices are paid on time. Getting clear on the practicalities of payment from the start will help to ensure that the process runs smoothly in the future. Creating accurate invoices and sending them promptly is also enormously helpful. These small and simple steps can have a hugely beneficial impact on the financial health of your business, so make them a priority today.