Dear Attorneys A.R.M. – How can I get my clients to pay?
Dear Attorneys A.R.M.,
I know it’s the holiday season and I don’t want to sound like a Scrooge. I know times are tough for everyone, but I have several clients who are behind on their bills. How can I get them to pay up without referring them to a collection service?
Worried in Washington
We know it can be really scary when clients aren’t paying. It seems to always feel worse around the holidays. There are things that you can do starting from the beginning of your accounts receivable management cycle to help you avoid the collections process. We understand that you want to maintain the relationship with your clients.
Reevaluate Your Credit Controls
Credit is an invaluable part of the service business. It enables people to get what they need and it brings new customers to you. However, if you’re extending too much credit, you’re putting your entire business at risk. So, it’s imperative that you understand credit controls and that you use them the right way. Make sure that you regularly review your credit process. Need help? We provide free evaluations and can help you get your credit process on the right track.
Watch for Red Flags
Financial problems can happen to any business. There are signs that you can watch for that can alert you to the struggles of your clients. When you see any of the signs, you can act in a proactive manner to minimize your own losses and assist your clients. Do not ignore those red flags.
Train Your Clients to Pay You on Time
Now, this may not relate directly to you, but it might. From the very beginning of the relationship with your clients, you should train them to pay you on time. It’s easier than you think. First, you must make sure that you have a good and easy to understand set of billing practices. It should clearly explain how you bill your clients and when they can expect their invoice each month. If you aren’t invoicing at the same time each month, you can’t expect your clients to pay you at the same time each month. Predictable billing makes it more likely that your clients will pay on time. Make it easy for your clients to pay you. Give them options such as mailing in their payment, paying by debit card, or even paying online. Provide follow up. Much like how we said to watch for red flags, if you notice that something isn’t quite right, follow up with your client.
Get Professional Help When You Need It
We understand that you want to avoid using a collection service, but sometimes it can be a necessity. Once you know that you’re going to have to collect, talk with us. We can help you make the decision on whether you should use first or third party collections. We can even help you get the money that’s owed to you.