Have you got your customers on a short leash?
I do get a few clients wanting advice on credit control. Not all businesses will tackle it the same way, as we all have different client bases, but all systems have the same core themes.
Consistency. Always be consistent. If you say you are going to do something at a certain time/date then follow through and do it. Put it in your diary so you don’t forget. If your customer understands your system then in theory they will make good their payment.
Always use more than one method of communication when chasing a debt as some people will plain ignore an email but can’t resist a ringing telephone or text message.
I am going to go through my own system of control which works for me.
First things first make sure your books are up to date as you don’t want to be chasing your customers if they have already paid their bill.
Be proactive. Call your customer before the invoice is due and see if they got it.
Seven days after the bill was due maybe call them to see why they have not yet paid it. Keep it light and friendly but let them know that you will be contacting them again in seven days.
If the bill has still not been paid seven days after the telephone call, send an email or letter stating that their account is now OVERDUE and payment should be made as soon as possible to avoid disruption to service. Always tag on a little disclaimer on the bottom of the letter saying that if payment has been made in the last 24-48 hours then accept my apology and ignore this letter/email.
Bill still not paid? Seven days after the last communication advise them that they now have seven days to settle their bill or the account will be sent for debt collection.
The final chance, seven days on, try to call them in the morning. Why the morning? It’s to give them the chance to make payment or if they are in a meeting you can call them again early afternoon. Advise them that if payment is not made by the end of the day the account goes to debt collection tomorrow morning.
Next day, check your bank account. Still not paid? Send it to the debt collector.
This is just a model of how you should go around it but you will know your clients and what their paying cycles are and whether it is just a case a friendly phone call is enough to nudge them into action.
- Tip 1 template your credit control letters this way you can copy and paste into an email and just add their names to it.
- Tip 2 the average time bills are settled is 45 days
- Tip 3 let your software deal with credit control. Some software lets you set parameters for automatic emails to go out. This method does have a little risk to it, if you do not keep your books right up to date, but does save you the bother of doing it yourself
- Tip 4 do your credit control on a Tuesday to Thursday as Fridays are a day of low motivation for some, and Monday is a day when you tend to delete all those annoying nothing emails
Remember that a non paying customer does not appreciate you or your business.
If you want a free credit control letter email me and I will be more than happy to send you a free template.