It happens to a lot of small businesses; a normal day in which operations are running along nicely, and then you spot that an invoice has come back unpaid. You check your books at the end of the day and your accounts are unbalanced, and soon it becomes two or three weeks later and this small, late payment issue has now snowballed into a potential debt case.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to put up with this! We can all have trouble with clients, but a difficult, unpaying client doesn’t have to be a dead end. Even if they’ve emailed back with all kinds of abuse about how your business handles itself, hope is not lost. Here’s what you need to do next.
Take Emotion Out of It
Yes, your business is currently at risk, and it’s your entire livelihood, but try to keep emotions out of this process. You don’t want to send an email that’s the equivalent of an angry rant, with all caps to really get the point across, and you want to remain as professional as possible. After all, there’s a chance they just forget to pay their bill, and you wouldn’t want to come across hard and lose their custom in the future as well.
Use Terms We All Understand
By this, we mean use words and numbers that get the point straight across. Be direct in your communication, but not rude, and make sure that the gravity of the situation is plain to the other party. This often means using statistics to prove how long you’ve gone without payment, what you plan to do next (in concrete, non-negotiable terms) and never forget to mention just how much the numbers are stacking up on their account.
Aside from the obvious, you also want proof here that you’ve done your best to get in touch with the client, which will help you if the case moves to court. Similarly, you want to be sure you do not come across in a threatening, non-professional manner.
Don’t Let Go of Payment
Even if you think it’s a lost cause, and you’re about to give up ever getting what you deserve for the good work you did for someone, don’t let go! There’s still a chance you can get that payment, if you work with a service such as a collection agency. It might sound like a lot of work for just one missed payment, but you don’t want to set a precedent here.
Feel free to make an example here and there, depending on how big the related invoice was, and make sure the bad client isn’t walking all over you. All in all, you’re allowed to chase down those who are in debt to you, and do everything you can to get your money back. Who knows how it might affect your business otherwise?
When a client becomes difficult, don’t let your business suffer. Chase them up, and even get the law involved.