Don’t cut corners when chasing your outstanding invoice debts, be confident

Updated: Feb 9, 2019

Ensure you are communicative when chasing for payments on outstanding invoices - if you don't follow a debt recovery process, it can make it tougher to recover the debts.

It's vital that your business has the right processes and procedures in place to recover debts. A solid foundation of your credit control and debt collection ensures that you are paid every time you invoice for work completed.

Having a strict policy in place to recover your business debts also enables you to be confident in your accounts receivable collections. There are lots of businesses (especially small ones) that feel if they chase their customers for payment, it will upset or ruin the business relationship they have in place. Some either fail to chase at all or chase to ineffectively because of the lack of a debt collection strategy.

Either scenario can hurt your business financials and if you don't pro-actively manage your debtors then a repeat pattern will occur causing further instability and frustration to your company. It also creates a bad impression of your business if you cannot even afford the time to get paid for the great work or service you've delivered.

Once you have delivered your goods or services to your customer and invoiced, your credit controller or bookkeeper should phone to ensure the invoice was received and find out when the invoice will be settled. This date should then be diarised to check and if necessary, follow-up. Always ensure you take the details of whom you spoke to and what was agreed.

Should the due date for payment be missed, phone again, follow up by email and be really tight on this credit control process. Find out what the problem is, if there is one and pass it up the management chain to deal with, if required. Ideally, solve the problem yourself by speaking to the right staff members in your business, as much of the time a delay in payment of an invoice is due to an issue with the service or its delivery.

Communication internally and externally to the customer is key to ensure timely resolution of both any service issue or delayed payment settlement.

If the invoice is still overdue and your customer has not contacted you, make sure you send a further email together with a letter in the post to their registered and trading offices. It's always handy to do this by Recorded Delivery for tracking purposes. Standard payment terms of a business invoice is 30 days so if your customer made assurances that they have not lived up to, make it clear that you require full payment of your invoice(s) immediately (or within a set number of days). Failing that, indicate you will be forced to instruct your debt collection agency to recovery the amounts if the final "olive branch" lapses. Do not let the customer delay matters for too long.

Again, sturdy communication is still the key, perhaps the customer has raised a dispute or complaint which is delaying the payment of your invoice. If only some of the invoice is in dispute then try and get part-payment of the invoice. This shows committment and intention to settle the full amount and resolve the problem, as well as also highlighting if there is any deliberate or underhanded delay tactics happening.

Be sure you have all of the facts and respond accordingly, quickly and professionally. Although you can still recover business invoice debt up to 6 years (subject to the correct business terms and conditions of sale being in place), in reality, the older a debt becomes, the harder it is to collect. So dealing with the debt issue at its infancy is key to a successful collection.

For help with getting your invoice debts collected from your overdue accounts, contact us on 0208 720 7309 or email