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Let’s flash back to the beginning of last year: while business seemed to be running normal at the start, steady changes in consumer behavior and a flood of unusual headlines serve as an indicator to the event no one expected. Jump a few months further, we suddenly began closing the doors of our businesses and our homes while a significant pause on our expenses allowed us to relay the same forgiveness to our customers.

However, a big portion of our lives has and continues to return to normal.

In business, you will encounter many instances involving a late paying customer. While we certainly don’t condone that you downplay any of their reasoning (many times they are legitimate), the bottom line is that you have to get paid too.

Are these situations awkward? Yes, especially if you are a new small business owner trying to gain traction.

Are they important? Absolutely.

Before confronting your customer with the subject line “late payment” followed by an angry-riddled outburst, there are better-more tactful-methods of managing these situations.

Read on to find out more on managing late customer payments while avoiding them in the future…

The ones who are always late:

You will have at least one of these customers in your business lifetime, these customers never pay on time and will only do so long after you ask them to. Their reasons for not paying may drastically differ each time or they may choose to not provide a reason at all. It’s important that you pay a great deal of attention to these customers as their repeat offenses can seriously impact your business.

Do:

  • Maintain a list of customers that owe or soon owe your business money
  • Remind yourself and check this list regularly
  • Call or email them as soon as the deadline for payment has passed
  • Check that they have your invoice

Don’t

  • Let your customers walk all over you
  • Waver and lose your stance once they begin with their excuses
  • Only check in with them one time

The ones who just forget :

Unlike your chronic late paying customers, forgetful payers unite on a universal foundation – they are prone to misplacing payment details. Typically a simpler situation to handle, forgetful payers can directly benefit with an automated approach to their payments.,

Do:

  • Double-check that you’re always including your bank details on your invoices
  • Clarify your payment details details when it’s time to pay
  • Ensure that your customer can pay online with payment links
  • Consider automating your payments

Don’t:

  • Confuse customers with small, difficult-to-read fonts on your invoices

Those who can’t afford to pay just yet

Never assume that if your customer hasn’t paid you yet, that they’re not planning to do so at all. As we’ve seen from the pandemic and it’s prominent effects, try to consider that your customer may be facing short term money problems.

Do:

  • Step out of your comfort zone and communicate with them
  • Pick up the phone calmly ask when they plan to pay you
  • Check to see whether they’re having issues and if they need more time.

Don’t:

  • Automatically assume the worst in when a customer doesn’t pay-especially when you know they have a good track record
  • Be impersonal in your approach

Those who can’t afford to pay for much longer
While allowing a few extra weeks of leniency is one thing, the situation changes when a customer needs much longer to pay you. In circumstances like these, you may wonder how to best handle it.

Do:

  • Arrange an incremental payment plan with these customers

Don’t:

  • Demanding immediate payment
  • Start hastily issuing late fees

The ones who go MIA
There’s nothing worse than having a customer who suddenly disappears and you can’t get a hold of them in any way. While recognizing that some of these customers may have never planned to pay you in the first place, you need to make a decision moving forward. Here, you can either;

  1. Hire a collection agency
  2. Cut your losses

 

Finally, regardless of which late paying customer you’re dealing with, it’s recommended that you stop selling to them until they pay what they owe.

While dealing with late paying customers has always posed a unique and complicated problem-the lasting impact from the pandemic raises additional concerns which you may feel challenges your integrity. However, as already mentioned, when handled with your highest level of professionalism, you should never feel guilty when asking for payment.

With years of industry wide business experience, our team at MCDA CCG strongly believe in the power of prevention as your best form of avoiding situations described above. Many times, we find that business owners only want to focus on their company and the services/products it provides, and are unsure of their best course of action to ensure timely payment. If this is the case, you may benefit from an outside perspective.

Whether you need help in maintaining/updating/maximizing your invoice software, restructuring your current payment methods, or determining your best course of action in challenging situations (i.e. your MIA clients) our scope of services can meet your unique needs at a cost competitive price.

Headquartered in Placentia, Orange County, California, our team of business advisers believe in the talent and potential of each of our clients.

Contact us today for a no-obligation discussion!

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