How to raise a customer who has to pay? The steps to get there
Your business is experiencing late payments, but you dare not raise your customer for fear of offending him? Do not worry ! Several effective methods exist to raise a customer who has not paid. Follow the guide !
In this article
1. An iron fist in a velvet glove Being confronted with customers who don’t pay their bills is never pleasant, especially if you are a small business. Also, it’s fairly easy to lose your temper and be tempted to shout at your debtor. But beware, this is the worst thing to do: in fact, if you start this way, you simply risk pointing your interlocutor. Imagine that he simply forgot to settle you, you risk giving a bad image of your business and losing a client for nothing … Stay courteous and polite but firm in all circumstances.
2. The phone, your best friend!
Lots of people tend to use phone raise as a last resort, this is a mistake. Since you are in the process of requesting collection, you should always favor direct contact to relaunch a customer who has not paid. If your client is a small business or an individual, the question of who to call does not arise. On the other hand, if you are dealing with a larger structure, you will save time by knowing who is the right interlocutor: try to obtain the contact details of the accounting department or the treasurer of the company … They are the ones who have the power to initiate payment, so it is best to contact them directly. The goal is not to hold your interlocutor for hours, so you must be brief but precise:
Remember the number of the invoice that you have to pay, this will avoid any misunderstandings. Be very clear on the date you expect payment: if you expect payment on the 20th of the month, specify it. Otherwise, the person in charge may start the procedure on the 20th. Ask how you are going to be paid. The time between a transfer and a check is not necessarily the same, and you should be aware of this to keep your cash afloat. Also, if your customer appears to be a recurring bad payer or shows signs of financial difficulty, be careful and don’t hesitate to decline checks, which may be bad. Use empathy. As a small business, unpaid bills can have a huge impact on your cash flow. So you can play on this note there, it may make your creditor realize that he must send you the payment as soon as possible.
3. Relaunch a customer who has not paid in writing Didn’t your first contact by phone yield anything? It is therefore time to move on to the recovery letter. Again, stay synthetic and don’t point the recipient: just remind them that they owe you money by referring to your terms and conditions. The advantage of this method is that the writing is authentic and provides you with proof of your approach, unlike the telephone. In the event of repeated late payments, you may consider claiming late penalties. These penalties are due to you from the first day of delay and are governed by article L 441-6 of the Commercial Code. They’re also a great way to get a slightly slow customer to react. In addition, they can allow you to compensate for losses caused by late payment.
If you still do not get anything from this action, you can send a so-called “warning” letter. In it, you report that, despite your previous complaints, you still haven’t been paid. Add to this that, failing to see you credited within X days, you will call on a collection agent (bailiffs, specialized lawyers…). Prefer registered mail to be sure that your customer has received it. If this letter has no real legal value, it allows you to put some pressure on your debtor. By “frightening” you will surely decide to act.
4. The formal notice, an effective ultimatum
In the occasional case where you have still not been paid, the letter of formal notice is the last step before initiating proceedings. You are not required to have sent a warning letter before giving notice to your creditor, it is up to you to decide based on the seriousness of the situation and the cash flow of your business. The formal notice constitutes for your client his last chance to regularize his situation “amicably”. Also be aware that it is a necessary prerequisite in the event of legal proceedings. Because of its legal importance, it may be appropriate to have it drafted and sent by a lawyer. However, if you wish to carry it out by yourself, here are the essential points to make appear:
Display “formal notice” in the text Set a payment deadline on receipt of mail Write a summary of the dispute Date your mail on the day of dispatch Address of your company and that of the recipient Affix your signature Specify that a court will be seized in the event of non-return If, after all these steps, you do not get your payment from your debtor, you will have to use the hard way. Legal remedies exist for this kind of situation: bailiff, collection agency or order to pay to a judge (the latter option being the least costly in time and money). Fortunately, it is rare to have to arrive there! If you follow the recovery process well and your client is accommodating, you shouldn’t need to resort to these extremes.
Conclusion: relaunching a customer who has not paid is an approach that requires rigor and a certain methodology. But it’s key to avoiding cash flow problems. The steps and tips indicated here will allow you to have a guideline in your recovery process and thus save precious time! However, keep in mind that the more you have a good relationship with your customers and the more you study their financial health, the more you will reduce the risk of this type of inconvenience.