You have a new client and are thrilled. But should you be? I am always surprised how often companies blindly trust others’ stories and do not do any research on their new business contact. Trust is a wonderful thing, but it can also lead to disappointment.
It is always wise to try to obtain some information about your new client. After all, anyone can have business cards printed, but that does not mean that they are REAL operational companies.
So being informed up front can save much frustration. This checklist may be of help.
Is your new client registered at the Chamber of Commerce? Private limited companies need to deposit their annual accounts at the Chamber of Commerce. You can request these from the Chamber of Commerce.
Does your new client have a website? This is a basic necessity these days.
Do some research on Google. Is your new client easy to find? Can you find any references? Is it easy to find a telephone number or are they anonymous numbers? You would be surprised at how often it is extremely difficult to find the debtor and how often the debtor cannot be traced at all.
In general you know little about new clients. A credit rating report will give you just that little bit more information about your new client. There are several companies that will prepare a report for you.
These tips may seem basic, but over the years I have regularly heard my clients say “Goodness, if I had only known!”. Maybe these tips will save you problems.
You have had a pleasant meeting with a new or existing client and are happy that you can supply the goods or services. Perhaps you trust this new client, or you have worked for this client several times. You start working on the job, discussing things on the phone, and get things moving.
But think for a moment. Trust is good but having the order confirmed in writing is even better! This saves a lot of unpleasant discussion afterwards.
This short checklist can help avoid unnecessary friction.
- Send a quotation.
- Send an order confirmation.
- Send your general terms and conditions.
- Save all the correspondence.
This takes little effort and may save you more trouble than you realise.
Anything that looks different gets attention. This is no different with invoices. So look critically at your own invoice. Does it stand out? Here are three tips for having better paying clients.
1. Easy to recognise payment details
Make everything as easy as possible for your client. Try to make all the payment details easy to copy from your invoice.
Are the payment details clear and easy to find?
Is the font big enough?
Is your bank account number easy to copy with handy spaces between the numbers?
We regularly see invoices submitted for debt recovery while they were long paid. This is because no invoice numbers were stated in the bank transfer. The result is that payment is not or is incorrectly booked and this results in complications that could have been avoided. Small actions can make a big difference.
2. Friendly text
The text in a quotation is usually inviting and pleasant to read. In contrast, invoices are often a cold piece of paper.
Imagine that you receive an invoice that says:
“Thanks for this great order. We’re really proud of the result and are happy with you as a client!”
“We would like to thank you for this wonderful order. We are looking forward to hearing how your clients responded to the flyer.”
A personal note on your invoice makes it stand out and this is exactly what you want with your invoices. Everything that stands out gets attention!
3. Pleasant phrasing of the payment due date
“Please ensure payment within 30 days” could be better!
“Thank you for paying the invoice within 30 days”
“Our payment period is 30 days, but we very much appreciate fast payment!”
A simple sentence like this encourages faster payment.
I hope this tip has made you think about your invoices and I hope that you get fast paying clients!
I always recommend that my clients take their payment due dates seriously. If your payment is due within 30 days, do not take action only after 60 days. If you do not take your payment due date seriously, there is a high chance that your client will not do so either.
In this case, I advise phoning your client when the first due date has passed.
This gives you another contact moment. During your conversation you can first ask if your invoice was received. You would be surprised to know how many invoices have ‘not been received’. You can then signal the payment issue and agree new payment terms. Useful, right? If you then still need to send a reminder, try to be friendly and encouraging.
If your client still does not pay, send a warning. If your invoice is still not paid after that, I recommend phoning your client again. Many debtors hide their heads in the sand if they have financial problems. Letters end up on a big pile so it makes no sense to send five or six warnings. What does make sense is to ensure that your claim moves to the top of the pile. A telephone call can be the trigger that makes the difference.
And should that not help either, Incasso Preiss can take over. This is NOT by definition a debt recovery process as a non-paying client today could turn into a valued client tomorrow! What we can do, acting as an extension of your debtor department, is send a pre-recovery demand letter. This letter will not harm the business relationship but will nevertheless encourage your client to pay the invoice quickly.
Every situation is different and every claim has its own story. I would like to take you into the world of debt collection. Not to sensationalise it, but to show you that it can be done differently. Read these real stories.