Table of Contents
Many times we wonder what happens if you don’t pay an invoice or vice versa. Let’s talk about the unpaid invoice and the several issues arising out of it with today’s blog post.
At some point, it’s unavoidable that every firm will have to deal with unpaid invoices and nonpaying consumers. So, here is what happens if you, as a customer, don’t pay an invoice on time.
It’s unfortunate but common for small company owners to deal with unpaid invoices and customers who either pay late or don’t pay. Although there may be a variety of negative emotions brought on by this, there are also efficient and diplomatic approaches to handling customers with outstanding accounts.
Here are some of the most typical explanations for why a client has failed to make a payment, along with some potential solutions to the problem and advice for avoiding such situations in the future.
When customers don’t pay their bills on time, it ripples affect cash flow and the company’s ability to pay employees, buy supplies, expand, and perform many other essential functions.
Not only does it cost more time and money to chase down late payments, but it also sets off a chain reaction. Over half a trillion pounds is lost each year by small and medium-sized service businesses in the United Kingdom just trying to collect on overdue bills.
According to a study by Atomik Research, the typical small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the United Kingdom spends 1.5 hours each day pursuing five invoices worth £8,500, for a total of approximately 900,000 hours daily.
What to Do When the Client Doesn’t Pay an Invoice on Time?
Use invoices for your company’s financial transactions. You may be too acquainted with the frustrations of late payments and a complete lack of Payment. Misplaced bills and unanticipated costs are only two of the numerous causes of late or nonpayment of invoices by customers.
It might be difficult for small company owners to ask for Payment when it’s been delayed without coming across as impolite. An unpaid invoice may be detrimental to your company, creating cash flow issues.
Take prompt action if you want to keep your cash flow positive. The following are some strategies for collecting money from customers that have evaded paying you in the past.
The following are some tactics you might use when dealing with a stubborn customer who refuses to pay:
Start With Sending A Gentle Reminder
The first step in recovering overdue payments is to send a courteous reminder to the consumer. Most of the time, a client’s late Payment was due to a simple error, and a kind reminder is all that’s needed to obtain timely Payment.
Remember that The statement you are writing for the Gentle Reminder must sound polite and not create a harsh impression of you to the customer.
When bringing up the issue of money, you may want to ease into it, as admitted by Greg Waldorf, a professor at Stanford University.
“Utilize the chance to check in with a client to see how they’re feeling about your services, and then bring up any bills that are due soon or have already been paid late,” Waldorf said.
Send Quick Payment Reminders to the Clients
Manage your business’s incoming cash flow positively by sending timely payment reminders to the clients or customers.
The Next Step is to Inquire Why the Customer has not yet made the Payment
If the customer still refuses to pay, try to understand why. We recommend enquiring as to whether or not they are satisfied with your job, the nature of their finances, and any other factors that may lead to their failure to pay.
Please inquire about the client’s level of satisfaction, the complexity of their finances, and any other grounds for nonpayment. One of the best ways to solve an issue is by candid discussion of its causes.
“Remember that everyone is simply a person and that very few individuals are truly trying to injure the other… most people are rational and eager to work toward a solution if you present them with the chance to do so.”
Replace the Old Invoice with the New One and Send it Out
Clients often attempt to stall Payment by saying they can’t locate the bill or need to reconcile their records to determine the right payment amount.
In such case, without losing your mind – stay calm and send an updated invoice with the same payment terms discussed as the original.
Use the Services of a Debt Collector
A debt collection agency is a last resort that focuses on recouping payments over 90 days overdue. The service takes care of the necessary follow-up with the consumer, utilizing tried and reliable methods to secure Payment.
If collection efforts are unsuccessful and unpaid debts persist, it is time to pursue legal action. Small claims court or civil court are available options.
Small claims court requires less time and money and might settle your dispute the same day. It would help if you employed an attorney in civil court, and cases often last several days, resulting in legal and court expenses. Before choosing the appropriate location, you should get legal counsel.
Charge Interest or Late Fees on Outstanding Bills
You may charge consumers late fees or interest on overdue payments because you provide credit. However, late fees or interest cannot be assessed without prior notification. The best-case scenario is when the late charge policy is included in the sales contract. Always include a policy reminder on your invoices. Customers may be more likely to pay on time if you provide this perk.
Once an invoice is past due, you should contact the client by letter, attaching a copy of the overdue invoice and restating your late fee/interest policy. Instead of including the charge in the letter, you may propose a payment plan and its terms. Included in those criteria should be the exact number of instalments, the amount of each Payment, and the timeline for making those payments.
In addition, if a payment plan has been established to collect overdue payments from a client, it is prudent to make further sales to that customer on a cash-on-delivery basis until the payment plan is finalized. The overdue payments are paid in full.
Any company is susceptible to cash flow challenges. Think carefully before imposing a late fee. Suppose a regular client suddenly has financial difficulties. In that case, it’s in everyone’s best interest to work with them to figure out why they can’t pay, work out a payment plan, and continue doing business together.
Keep in mind that slapping on a late charge or interest the instant an invoice is overdue might damage the connection and lead to nonpayment and a lost client.
Write a legal letter of demand for Payment
Calls reminding clients of overdue invoices or proposing payment plans instead of interest or late penalties are often met with silence. When this happens, it’s time to write and deliver a formal letter of debt collection.
A letter to request Payment on a debt has a dual function: You need to recover the money that is rightfully yours, and you need proof that you followed proper procedure when you contacted the customer about the overdue amount so that you may utilize that evidence in court. When attempting to recover a debt, certified mail with the return receipt requested should always be used. You may now provide evidence that your letters were read.
The initial letter you send to collect a debt should outline the invoice and briefly recap your past interactions with the customer. Also, include in this letter the date beyond which you will submit the outstanding invoice to a collections agency if it remains unpaid.
The letter should advise the customer that you have been unsuccessful in settling the debt and that legal action will be pursued to reclaim any property that has not been paid for.
Use a Factoring Company Instead
An invoice factoring service may help you receive the money you need if you’re short on cash and don’t know when a client will pay. If you use a factoring service, you may sell your accounts receivable to the firm for a portion of their worth (often between 70% and 90%). Afterwards, the firm will send the money to you within a few days. Next, the factoring business will collect payments from your clients and then forward the remaining funds to you, less their charge.
Even yet, factoring services are not the same as collection agencies. They verify the credit histories of your clients before agreeing to buy their bills. The service costs mount up if you utilize it for several clients’ bills, so that you might lose money.
How Long Does a Client have to Pay an Invoice?
Unless otherwise specified in writing, a client has 30 days to settle an invoice.
It depends on the country to law taxes on how long you can make a client pay their due invoices.
In the UK system, If an invoice is older than six years, you have no legal recourse to collect Payment. You should see an attorney about your next steps if that’s the case.
The invoice’s due date and the date it was issued must be noted. That way, the client has a concrete date to work toward.
If you dont have the contract and any type of agreement, the standard is usually within 30 days.
How to Help Your Clients to Pay Invoices on Time?
While you are struggling with delayed payments, here is how you can help your clients to pay invoices on time.
If the Client is too Close to You, then Provide Potentially an Extended Date
When you don’t want to spoil the relationship with your client – or the client is too close to you- then you can set an alternative payment date.
Induce Early Payments by Offering Discounts
A simple strategy is to provide a discount, ranging from 1-5% to customers who pay in advance.
Ask for Payment In Advance
You can ask for a partial or full payment of the project’s cost.
Be Quick with Invoices
Reduce the possibility of late payments and misplaced invoices by automating the billing process.
Determine the conditions of Payment in Advance
Before beginning the job, it is important to clarify the payment conditions in the contract. Include payment conditions such as Due date or Payment is due on the invoice.
Maintain a Consistent Payment Schedule
Please maintain this schedule if you have established a billing cycle in which invoices are sent on the first and fifteenth of each month. It’s clearer this way.
As the project proceeds, you may also do your best to encourage the customer to pay you early.
Provide multiple Payment Methods and Options
Provide the customer with many payment methods, including electronic ones like PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.
Gentle Reminders with Soft Tone
Do not forget to follow up on an invoice; schedule reminders in your calendar. A week before the invoice is due, you may email the customer to remind them. Follow up your email with a phone call if necessary.
Add Late Fines
Keep the customer aware of the late costs and their effective date. You have the option of charging a flat amount or a percentage of sales.
How to Collect Overdue Payments?
Suppose a client refuses to react to emails about their debt. In that case, you must phone them often until they settle up.
Don’t be pushy, but keep asking. To move on to more pressing matters, it is imperative that you clear your financial obligations to one another. Instead of avoiding your calls and making excuses, they will eventually pay you.
If clients are aware that they may be charged a late fee, they will be less inclined to pay their bills late. It’s important to set up a system that’s backed up by some kind of policy or terms of service.
You may increase the likelihood of being paid by offering to work out a payment plan with a client experiencing temporary cash flow problems who cannot pay their whole invoice immediately.
Establish a payment schedule that the consumer is comfortable with, settling on an amount they can afford.
How to Take Legal action for Nonpayment?
When the debt is substantial, it may be possible to pursue Payment by filing a claim in small claims court or employing an attorney.
Don’t forget to perform a very honest cost analysis when contemplating legal action. Will the amount recovered be more than the whole cost in terms of monetary, emotional, time, energy, etc.?
If it would take more time and effort to retrieve the $500 than it’s worth, it’s better to learn from the experience, implement measures to prevent a repeat, and move on.
But if the consumer owes you a significant amount of money and does not pay you or a collection agency in accordance with the terms of your contract or invoice, you may have to take legal action. Talk to an attorney about your options if you decide to take legal action.
Filing a complaint, gathering evidence, preparing your case, presenting your case, and collecting a judgement in small claims court are never enjoyable for either party involved.
As a result, the sum you stand to gain by filing suit must be sufficient to justify the effort involved and satisfy the laws of your state.
It’s frustrating when customers don’t pay on time, and it’s much more problematic if you botch the process of collecting past-due bills.
Use a smart and competent Invoicing Tool like Moon Invoice – which can let you create Invoices with Payment Terms, track invoices, and accept payments in multiple currencies.
If an invoice is past due, don’t jump to any assumptions. Sending a simple follow-up message or resending the client’s invoice will do the trick.
You should review previous exchanges to learn the specifics of the agreement. If the deal was struck over the phone, consider whether or not you were overheard and what was said.