Unpaid invoices are a thorn in the flesh of many a business that can easily result in a slow painful death of businesses. And while unpaid invoices are usually blamed on the customer, often the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the company. Many business owners forget that their customers have numerous bills to pay and that their invoice is just another bill on a heap of bills. Most times customers pay their bills off in order of priority. So how do you get your invoice higher up on the list? How do you get your customers to pay you first?
What you must realise as a business owner is that anything that makes the process of paying for your goods or services even slightly more tedious for your customer pushes you further lower on the list of priority bills. Examples of things that may result in your invoice being put off for a later date include:
- Delivering your invoice late
- Giving the customer an incorrect or incomplete invoice and thus forcing the customer to call your company with queries and for confirmations
- Making it difficult for your customer to approve payments on their end
- Failing to offer incentives to motivate customers to make timely payments
- Failing to follow up unpaid invoices in good time
All these may cause your customer to put you on the back burner, either because settling the payment is perceived to be too time- or energy-consuming, or simply because you allowed them to forget about you. Remember, out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes customers need to be reminded that they have invoices that are due.
In order to keep your invoices at the top of the heap, you need to make timely payment as easy (and even as attractive) as possible. Various tactics can help you in this, including:
- Ensure invoices are sent out on time. This allows for enough time for the customer to stick to the terms
- Provide correct and complete invoices to avoid unnecessary consultation pertaining to payment terms and amount
- Ensure the amount stated in your invoice is the same as what you quoted for your customer
- Be in open communication with your customers
- Put in place a system that allows for online payment so that your customers can make the payments at their own time
- Keep a stock of the reasons as to why your customers paid late or defaulted payment to better understand what needs to be rectified within your order-payment cycle.
While getting around to sorting out all the above may seem tedious, it is all worth it at the end as you no longer need to worry about unpaid invoices interrupting your company’s cash flow or hurting your bottom line. If you have a seemingly impossible backlog of outstanding invoices, we suggest that you contact a reliable debt collection agency to recover your debt for you and also get your books in order.