For a business, cash is the sinews of war. Unfortunately, various late payments are common. A late payment, which can lead to an unpaid invoice, can cause serious problems if it is not properly managed. Especially for small businesses and freelancers. Here are 9 techniques to better organize you in monitoring the payment of your invoices…
1: Prevention rather than cure: contractualization
In order to start a relationship of trust with your future customer and prevent late payments, it is better to set up a sales contract from the start of the service. Of course, the contract will have to specify the detail of your service, the deadlines for completion, the elements to be supplied by the client … And for the payment part, the terms of payment, the deadlines, late interest, penalty in the event of default payment… As a reminder, the law fixes the payment deadline at 30 days. Unfortunately, this deadline is often not met.
Models of contracts are available on the Internet, do not hesitate to do some research, but above all check their effectiveness with your accountant, lawyer or other legal professional.
At the same time, consider adding the following compulsory mention to your invoices concerning late payment penalties:
“In the event of late payment, application of a lump sum indemnity for recovery costs of € 40 according to article D. 441-5 of the Commercial Code. ”
2: Favor immediate payment and reward good payers
In order to favor immediate payment, before the start of your service you can offer a reduction for customers paying upstream of the service. If you do not wish to make a discount, you can also offer a small bonus in addition to the service originally planned. You thus establish a win-win partnership.
3: Facilitate payment
Before railing against your customers, make sure that you offer all the facilities to pay quickly:
- Send your invoices quickly;
- Propose a spread of the payment via a schedule;
- Offer different means of payment: transfer, Paypal but also credit card (some invoicing software offers the payment of invoices by CB, very practical);
- Consider, in case of regular payment, an automatic debit or scheduled transfer ensuring you never have to raise your customers!
4: Always have a view on your unpaid invoices and the total amount
Remember to always enter the different payments received as and when in your billing software, this will allow you to have a view of the outstanding invoices. And to have a quick view on all the customers to raise for late payment.
The icing on the cake is that it will help you estimate your future cash flow and steer your business accordingly.
In terms of payment reminder and billing follow-up, the organization will be a key quality 🙂
5: Prepare a schedule and a reminder script
In order not to be caught off guard (it’s never very pleasant to relaunch clients), prepare a plan of attack, a process that you will follow for your stimulus emails.
Set up a stimulus schedule.
- A few days before the due date: confirmation email to verify that the customer has taken the invoice into account. This will avoid misunderstandings and poor receipt of invoices or other. In short, you detect problems in advance to possibly resolve them and not waste time on the payment period;
- Recovery at D + 7;
- Relaunch at D + 30 …
Gradually improve your script based on feedback and your feelings. Note that standard letters can be found if necessary on the Internet. But I advise you to do them yourself to put your personality into it.
6: Know your customers and their internal processes
It is also important to be familiar with the payment processes of each of your customers in order to adapt your reminders accordingly. If you know that the client must respect an internal process with a fixed deadline which is not necessarily yours, as long as you agree with this deadline and that the client respects it, there is no point in spending time relaunching for a payment request.
Also learn to identify the different customer profiles and their behavior towards payment to accentuate your recovery actions where necessary. It also allows you to better judge your client risk.
Likewise, it is important to know who validates the payment and who makes the payment to your client in order to raise the right person and not waste your time.
7: Favor telephone reminders
The best way to get quick feedback and info on why your customer isn’t paying is to prioritize conversion. Call your client and try to sort out the situation. The sooner you call the client, the better you will be able to resolve the situation.
8: Privilege amicable but know how to defend yourself when necessary
In order not to deteriorate the relationship you have with your client, always favor amicable recovery and cordial reminders. But sometimes it is not enough. And in this case, know how to surround yourself to get your due!
If the letter of formal notice can be a first step, it is often useless if it is not sent by a bailiff. In this case, remember to send by registered letter.
First solution for one-off claims: formal notice by bailiff. Send a bailiff letter will dot the i’s and make sure you get your money back. The costs of the bailiff will also be reimbursed by your client.
If there is a regular need that you can no longer manage internally, using a collection agency may be the solution. But like any solution of this type, plan for the cost.
Last resort: summons by lawyer for possible legal action in the competent court.
9: Equip yourself with the right tools and services to save time in your reminders
In order to better follow up on late payments and save time in reminders, it is also essential to choose the right tools.
A good billing tool will integrate functionalities to track your payments and manage your reminders. This is the case of Zervant who took seriously the problem of unpaid bills which affects almost all businesses today.
Several features have been designed for this purpose:
Already unpaid invoices are isolated in a “unpaid” tab, you thus have a quick view of the customers to be raised and the total of the sums due to you for all customers combined.
Then Zervant allows you to offer the online payment to your customers. Your customers can thus pay by credit card. No more excuses for easy payment 🙂
The e-invoicing which is going to be more and more integrated in most companies is also available. This system makes it possible to get rid of the good old pdf / paper invoice to connect supplier invoicing to that of the customer.
Interestingly enough, you have the option of automatically manage the reminder letter aspect by mail, sometimes the emails are not read, a paper mail will be more likely to get the attention of your customer.
And best of all, thanks to a partnership with the company Finexkap, the amount of your invoices awaiting payment can be advanced to you through its subsidiary Finexkap AM, a portfolio management company approved by the Autorité des financial markets (GP-14000044). In case of cash flow need, this solution has the advantage of being simple, fast and without any commitment since the financing costs are only due in the event of actual financing. Finally, and this is a unique advantage, the solution is directly integrated into your Zervant management and invoicing software. With a few clicks, you can make your request and, if accepted, the difficulties are resolved within 24 hours!
Zervant offers solutions accessible to small structures, the first subscription starts from € 7 per month. And you get a 14-day free trial to see if the tool is right for you.
I let you click here to test Zervant
Article written in collaboration with Zervant