The trouble with calling customers for payment of your invoices is that quite often you receive excuses for non payment. Usually they are just delaying tactics. Here are some tips for addressing the most common and least credible.
“The director who signs the cheques is on holiday.”
A common excuse, especially during the summer months and before and after bank holidays, but it is frequently used to delay payments. The arguments given by customers can be reversed and used to secure payment. If you are told the director is on holiday, find out what provision has been made for signing salary cheques and paying utility bills. Normally in these circumstances signed cheques will have been left to settle important accounts. You must stress how important your account is, making them feel they will be going against the wishes of their boss by withholding payment.
“The computer is down.”
You must ask how often these problems occur and how long faults generally last. If this is a genuine problem the customer ought to be willing to send a manual cheque. If they refuse, it will become apparent they are trying to avoid payment.
“We can only pay you when we receive funds from one of our large customers.”
Ask the name and address of their debtor and the expected date of payment. The company should be able to arrange some form of credit with the bank on the security of the debt. Suggest they do this and find out how quickly this can be done.
“We seem to have misplaced your invoice – can you send a copy?
Ask whether this is the only reason for late payment and offer to fax/email a copy immediately. If the customer does not agree to pay straightaway, they are admitting that their requests for copy invoices were a delaying tactic.
“The cheque is in the post.”
Ask for cheque and postage details. What is the cheque number? When was it mailed? It may be that as they have now given you a legitimate cheque number, they will now put a cheque in the post., If it’s not been sent, get them to write your account number or reference on the back of the cheque. Why not arrange to pick up the cheque, or send in a courier?