it’s time to clamp down on non-payment
Have you heard the tired line ‘the cheque’s in the post’ just once too often this year? This explanation, along with protestations of ‘it’s just being signed now’ or ‘can you send the invoice again’, rank as some of the most clichéd excuses in the book when beginning to explain the late settlement of invoices.
Cashflow is the lifeblood of any business and without it the progress of a business is stunted, sometimes permanently. Chasing debtors can be difficult, particularly in the current economic climate, even for the most experienced of credit controllers. It can be very much a case of whoever shouts loudest gets paid first.
Of the thousands of small businesses we have met at Inksmoor over the past two years, over three-quarters of them have been facing an impending cashflow crisis, often due to nothing more than the traditional British reserve, and the fear of asking for money they are owed.
The trick is to prepare and act before a debt is overdue. You should begin by ensuring your contracts are in place with terms and conditions, including payment, clearly set out. Each invoice should state your payment terms, have the correct date, correct name of your customer, correct terms of trade, VAT number, company registered number, and bank details. You should also verify that goods, services and invoices have been received and agreed before going any further.
It is imperative to have strong relationships with your customers’ purchase ledger clerks. Start by discovering their name so you will always have a point of reference when you call. You should then call the debtor’s purchase ledger office before the debt is due to check the invoice is cleared for payment and get a commitment of when payment will be made.
It is also important to be persistent, as eventually the purchase ledger clerk will be too embarrassed to answer your call and will be morally obliged to write your cheque. The key is persistence, maintaining a consistently firm approach and not being put off by excuses.