You’ve done the work. You’ve given them 30 days to pay it. And when day 31 arrives you still can’t see the money in your bank or a cheque on your desk.
You now need to spend time chasing payment when you really want to be doing more work.
So how can you reduce the time spent chasing payments so you can do more productive work?
1. People pay invoices not companies
It’s easy to think that “Company Y” owes me money, but when it comes down to it, it is Person X in Company Y that will write the cheque or transfer the cash. You need to find out who that person is, by name, and get them on the phone. If you’re not speaking to them then you’re not speaking to the person who can do what you want.
2. Keep to the point
Once you’ve got them on the phone, make sure you don’t get sidetracked into discussions about things that aren’t any of your business. You don’t care that they are in the middle of an audit, or that the financial controller is about to go on holiday to Greece for a week. You care about when your invoice will get paid!
3. Get specific promises
Sometimes there will be reasons why they haven’t paid on time, but find out what they are and determine what your new best friend is going to do about it. Get them to tell you that they’ll pay it next Monday when the boss is back in and can sign the cheque. Get them to tell you that they will make the transfer this afternoon. If it’s specific then you have something to go back to them with in case it doesn’t happen.
4. Make sure everyone wins
It’s always difficult to push one of your customers for money. After all, they’re your customer and you don’t want to annoy them and risk them going somewhere else. So if you need to negotiate on when you get paid, make sure that they get something out of it too. Tell them that they can pay 50% now and 50% when they get paid by their big client next Tuesday. Tell them that if they can get payment to you by this Friday then you’ll make sure that they’ll have you available next month when they need something doing. There’s always something they want, so find a way to give it to them in return for your money.
5. Don’t give up
It’s your money they’re holding on to, so don’t give up until you get it. If they really aren’t paying you then do you really want them as a customer anyway? If they aren’t giving you any money then they are the same as all the non-customers that you have. So keep on the phone to them when they fail to deliver on their promises, and if that doesn’t work then you have rights to chase them for payment – so take action!