Business owners must get paid to stay in business, but different types of businesses ask for payment in various ways. Closing a sale is often completed in person or by phone. Service providers usually send invoices via mail or e-mail. Regardless of the medium, asking for payment politely improves and maintains sales and increases customer satisfaction. Asking for money is never easy. Let’s how to ask for late payment in a professional way with these 5 email scripts.
It is awkward, time-consuming and you definitely don’t want to upset your clients. But overdue invoices are also dangerous as they risk affecting your cash flow and putting you out of business as well. Not to mention the fact that you have a right to be paid for the work you have done for your clients.
But how do you handle such a delicate situation? How do you ensure you attain your overdue invoice paid and keep your clients coming back for more? Whilst there are no silver bullets, there are plenty of steps you can take to help minimize the problem. In this article, we will look at the best ways to ask clients for late payment. We have also included some e-mail scripts or templates ready for you to use, should you need them.
Many companies bill their clients after the goods or services are provided, or the work is done, then wait for expected payment, which are termed receivables. Businesses face losing 20 to 50 percent of receivables to collection agencies if the client or customer does not pay on time, so asking for payment politely helps avoid this.
Tone is considered quite crucial when asking for money both in e-mails or in traditional business writing. Keep in mind that readers do not always interpret your words as intended. Polite correspondence thanks the client for their business and uses introductory phrases such as “I hope all is well”.
An initial letter confirms that the invoice was received and asks if there are any questions. This is sent about a week before payments become overdue. Keep it short and informative, reminding the client/customer that payment is coming due and that you look forward to serving them in the future.
Posing the request as a “reminder that [invoice number] is due”, suggests that non-payment is an oversight or that payment could have crossed in the mail. Offer the invoice information and due date with options for payment. Express your availability and able to answer any potential questions.
Past-due letters are sent anywhere from one week to 90 days after the period due date. Keep the requests for payment polite by referencing the invoice and note that payment has not been received as of the correspondence date. Request that clients/customers review their own records.
This approach removes confrontation by giving the client an opportunity for an excuse such as, “Oh, I thought my bookkeeper sent that already.” Close letters with “Thanks” or “Kind Regards” to keep a polite and friendly tone. Include a copy of the invoice with each letter.
Subsequent letters become more stern because the client did not yet address the issue. These letters still use many of the techniques of earlier letters, but pre-collection letters must note that further action will be taken if payment is not yet received.
Being upfront with your clients about payment can save you hassle further down the line, so it is best to state your invoicing terms from the off. In some countries, their law says that payment must be received “within 30 days of getting your invoice, or the goods or service” unless agreed otherwise.
But although the default is 30 days, the average payment time for invoices is currently more than 38 days. So you would like to begin with shorter terms, especially with your new clients. You can even try asking entirely new clients to pay their first invoice in full, before doing the work.
There is no right or wrong answer here, just make sure you are clear about what you expect.
A common mistake many micro and small businesses make is to wait until the invoice is overdue before chasing it. That is already too late. You ought to send the first reminder about a week before the due date. Do not think of this as pushy, instead, it is more an effective way to get the ball rolling.
In the best case, this first reminder can get your invoice paid early. But, if not, it will definitely assist keep it in your client/customer’s mind, and it may help you to identify any problems with the invoice early on (which could affect payment time).
Just send another reminder on the day the invoice is due, and if nothing has happened within a week, send another one after that.
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One of the most irritating things about chasing late payment is the amount of time it takes to process. One great way to save time is by having a set of e-mail scripts for your reminders, ready to send out as and when you need them.
Use These 5 E-mail Scripts or Templates To Ask For Late Payment From Client In A Professional Manner
Asking for late payment can be hard or tough, but the key is to modulate your tone across these reminder e-mails. You will need to be equally polite and firm. Depending upon how late that payment is, your tone may need to tip in one direction more than the other. We will show you exactly what to write and when to hit the ‘Send’ button.
E-mail Subject: Follow-up on Invoice #ABC123
Hi [CLIENT’s NAME],
This is just a quick reminder to let you know that payment for Invoice #ABC123, which we sent you on [DATE], will be due in a week’s time, that is, on [DATE].
Please take a moment to check and examine the invoice and do let me know if you have any questions.
The first reminder ought to be short, friendly and informative. There is no need to bother your client/customer with too much information and you do not need to request payment straight away as the bill is not due yet. In this e-mail, the client/customer should recognize that you regularly track your invoices, so you will get back in touch with them if they do not send their bill on time.
2. E-mail Script #2: Reminder On the Due Date
E-mail Subject: Invoice #ABC123 is due today
Hi [CLIENT’s NAME],
This is just a quick reminder to let you know that payment for Invoice #ABC123, which we sent you on [DATE], is due today. Please pay this as soon as possible.
Do let me know if you have any questions or queries, happy to assist with whatever you need.
This is one of the most important e-mails in the sequence since you are requesting your first call to action to your client/customer to make their payment. It should be short, straight to the point, but still friendly because that bill is, technically not overdue yet.
E-mail Subject: Invoice #ABC123 is a week overdue
Hi [CLIENT’s NAME],
We have not yet received payment for Invoice #ABC123 from you. A payment of [XXXX] is now overdue.
I would really appreciate if you could pay this invoice as soon as possible, and please let me know when you have done so. If the payment has already been sent, Just disregard this notice.
If you have any queries then let me know.
This is the first e-mail addressing that the invoice is overdue, so you will want to start firming up your tone. Include details about the invoice, such as invoice number, the amount due and repayment time-frame for a clearer reminder of what the client/customer owes, and when they owed it. Also, try to offer a copy of the invoice, as sometimes they do get lost or accidentally deleted.
E-mail Subject: Invoice #ABC123 is two weeks overdue
Hi [CLIENT’s NAME],
I wrote to you several times to remind you of the pending amount of [XXXX] for Invoice #ABC123. And another reminder, payment was due two weeks ago.
If you have any queries regarding this payment, please let me know to get solutions. I have also attached a copy of the invoice to this e-mail, in case the original was accidentally lost or deleted.
Could you reply to this message and let me know you have received it? Thank you.
In this e-mail, you should clearly ask for payment and ask the client/customer to also confirm whether they have received the message. That way, they have one less excuse or reason to avoid your e-mail.
E-mail Subject: Invoice #ABC123 from [DATE] is overdue. Please send payment ASAP!
Hi [CLIENT’s NAME],
This is another reminder that I have yet to receive the [XXXX] owed by you on Invoice #ABC123. Please be careful of that, as per my terms, I can charge you additional interest on payment received more than 30 days past its due date.
Just again reach out if you have any questions on this payment. Otherwise, please organize for settlement of this invoice immediately.
At a full month overdue and several ignored attempts to reach out to the client/customer, you are entitled to take a tougher approach about reclaiming your compensation. But do not let it get personal. Making accusatory statements toward your client/customer undermines your professionalism. So, make sure that you are polite at all times when dealing with your client/customer.
If you still have not received payment after a full month, then it is time for you to step out from behind the email curtain and call your client directly. First of all, it is a high possibility that your client changed email addresses, or accidentally can provide you an incorrect email address. And you may be sending your invoice requests to the wrong person or department.
Either way, it’s always more effective easy to communicate simply with your client, person to person, than it is to send an email. And you’ll give them the firm but kind reminder that they need to pay up and hear their side of the story first-hand.
Give your client a call. If e-mail reminders are not getting your invoice paid, then you should also try just giving your client a call. Mistakes do happen – maybe the address was wrong, perhaps your e-mails ended up in a spam folder, etc. Often, all you can need is a quick call to find out what is going on and to get your invoice paid. In addition to this, if someone is just stringing you along, it is easier to come up with excuses via e-mail than on a direct phone call.
If you are still stuck and need a better solution, then it is time to consider taking legal actions, such as filing a lawsuit against your client for non-payment, etc. Whatever you, do, remember that your professional behavior should not be affected, especially if you are running a business.