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Late payments aren’t always deliberate. Sometimes an invoice simply goes missing. Sometimes it doesn’t match with their own records and requires further investigation. And sometimes, it’s difficult to make a payment. On your end, the best way to encourage timely payments is by making it as easy as possible for clients to pay invoices. Here’s how to get started.
How to ask a client to pay you
Requesting payment starts by sending an invoice. This should include all relevant payment terms, arranged in a clear, easy-to-read format to expedite payment. Terms should also be discussed with your clients before your business relationship begins to avoid any misunderstanding. Show the due date at the top of the invoice, including any net payment terms.
Before sending your invoice, make sure it has a clean layout with a clear description of all products and services delivered. Verify that all figures are accurate to avoid payment delays. When it’s ready to send, make sure you’re delivering the invoice to the correct person. This is key if you’re providing services to a large company. Your usual contact might not handle finances, so make sure you know where to send the bill and who to CC.
After the invoice is sent, don’t be afraid to follow up with a friendly email confirming receipt and reminding when payment’s due.
How to make invoices easy to pay
Efficient invoicing is only one part of collecting payments from customers. The other part is the payment collection process itself. It’s best to be flexible with your payment methods. While some clients will happily sign up for an online portal, others might prefer a traditional method like paper cheque. Some might prefer paying over the phone, while others want to set up Direct Debit for automated collection.
Your invoice should clearly list the payment options and include any relevant instructions. Embedded payment links make it easy for clients to click and pay, for greater chances of on-time payment. It might also be worth offering incentives for early payment, whether it’s a discount or voucher. These can get your invoices paid faster.
How to deal with late paying clients
Despite your best efforts, there might still be clients that don’t pay. Are you wondering how to ask a client to pay you when invoices go ignored? First, reach out with an email. It’s possible they’ve simply forgotten about it or have been putting it off. Additional steps for getting business invoices paid can include:
Charging late fees: Start charging for missed payments over a certain threshold. Just be sure to include this policy in your contract before beginning work.
Offer payment plans: If your cash flow situation allows for this option, consider some flexibility with payments. This keeps the line of communication open and improves your chances of maintaining a good working relationship going forward, while still recovering what’s owed.
Stop providing services: If you have an ongoing working relationship, don’t resume services until the invoice has been paid.
Outside collection agencies should be used only as a last resort since this may sour your customer relations.
How to make clients pay on time
You can’t force clients to pay invoices, but there are a few ways to improve the way your business invoices get paid. This starts with automating the invoice process, making it more convenient for you and your clients. With invoicing software, you can automatically issue and send invoices as quickly as possible. They’re less prone to delay-causing manual errors, and the system can set up automated payment reminders to save you time.
Consider integrating your invoicing system with a billing solution to better manage payment collection. You can also add payment links directly to the invoice for easier payment. This lets clients pay their bill as soon as it’s received, all using the payment method of choice.
Finally, consider setting up a recurring billing solution using Direct Debit. GoCardless can help you take invoice payments on the day they’re due, directly from customer bank accounts. This eliminates those awkward conversations entirely – while keeping your cash flow in top shape.
We can help
GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.