Sometimes important obligations slip through the cracks. It happens to all of us: a forgotten phone call we promised to return, a utility bill payment that gets sent a few days late, an overlooked anniversary.
Similar mistakes are bound to happen regarding your clients’ payments. You know from running your own business that everything can’t go smoothly all the time. When a client doesn’t pay you on time, there are a few important strategies to remember for crafting your initial past due letter.
Keep it Kind
When crafting a past due letter for your business, make sure to keep the tone friendly. Avoid harsh language like “immediate attention” or “serious consideration” — hopefully it won’t come to that point, and it certainly hasn’t yet.
For now, keep your word choice amicable. You want to avoid insulting or shaming them for not paying you and make it clear that you assume the payment oversight was an honest mistake. Try phrases like:
- This is a friendly reminder that…
- If you have already sent us your payment, please accept our thanks and disregard this reminder.
- Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this matter…
Visit the Funding Gates Starter Kit for Small Businesses to view a sample friendly reminder letter for past due accounts, including precise language.
Include All the Details
If you’re missing a payment from a client who usually pays on time, it’s possible that your initial invoice or reminder simply got lost in the shuffle. That means you should always include all of the details from the invoice in your reminder letter, so they don’t have to hunt for the original copy:
- Invoice #
- Original Invoice Date
- Payment Due Date
- Payment Amount
These details can appear in paragraph form or in a table, but either way, they should appear exactly as they did in the original invoice.
Use Your Point Person
When you set up your original contract, (hopefully) you designated who your contact at the organization would be. When mailing the letter, address the reminder to this specific person, not just the company as a whole. If the business manager’s name is at the top of the letter, she is more likely to tend to it immediately. If you are sending the letter in email form, make sure to send it to the person who can actually cut the check or authorize the payment.
The fewer hands the invoice has to be passed through at your client’s organization, the sooner you will receive your payment.
Keep an Eye on the Future
Most of the time, these reminder letters will not need any further action; the missed payment was an oversight, and your client will send your payment immediately.
In some cases, though, the friendly reminder letter could be the first in a longer battle to get payment from your client.
For this reason, any correspondence regarding the overdue amount should be documented. Make sure to keep track of where you sent the reminder letter, to whom you addressed it, and when you sent it. If you’re using a product like FG Receivables Manager, check to see if the email was ever opened, and note this as well.
As always, the goal is to get the payment in your door. Avoid flowery language or apologizing for bothering them. Include the important details, request the payment, and move forward.
You deserve to be paid, and you deserve to be paid on time. If your clients know payment is a priority for you, it will become a priority for them, too.