Is there anything worse than finishing a job and not being paid on time? This is a serious problem in the industry and even worse for those who are self-employed. If employees at an organisation were paid days, weeks or even months late, there would be chaos. So why is it brushed off in the home improvement sector as normal?
Tips to avoid late payment:
Establish clear payment terms and deadlines before beginning the work
Make sure you state an exact due date for payment as opposed to ‘due in x number of weeks’. It is also a good idea to include a late payment policy. This combined will hopefully reiterate the importance of being paid on time to your customer. Whilst 60/90-day payment terms are common, don’t just follow the crowd, set payment terms to meet your cashflow. Pick a timeline that is suitable to you.
Additionally, why not explore the option of early payment incentives and late payment penalties?
Triple check your invoice
Have you missed something? If there is any missing information, then the customer may be waiting to hear from you rather than confronting you themselves. Click here to view a guide provided by Xero that walks you through the process of making an invoice – you can check that you haven’t missed off any of these steps and act accordingly if you have.
Make it easy for customers to pay
Everyone has a preferred method when it comes to paying, so have you thought about offering cheque payment and online payment? The customer has a choice then and no excuses.
Considering we now live in a digital world; a further consideration would be to explore the options of automation in invoicing and following up payments.
We’re all human and most of us have a brain that’s working a mile a minute; meaning that important information sometimes slips our minds. To avoid this being your payment information that is forgotten, make sure you communicate regularly with your customer in the run up to their payment due date. You could do this by sending a friendly reminder in the week/s running up to the deadline date either by letter, email or even phone call, whichever way you normally work.
What to do if your payments are still being missed, despite doing all the above
Make sure you call your customer when chasing payment. Some do not check their emails every day and for those who do, it is easy for them to leave your email unanswered.
Keep your cool
As difficult as it may be sometimes, keep your cool. Try to compose yourself before speaking with clients, no matter how frustrated you may feel. Doing so ensures you don’t damage the relationship with your client and/or your reputation. Payment is likely to be received quicker if you are polite as opposed to aggressive.
No matter how tempting this might be, trust us, it doesn’t end well.
If persistence and politeness still isn’t budging your client, then it may be time to act. Not sure where to start? Take a look at the Government’s business support website; or call their helpline as a first resort. They are accessible Monday – Friday from 9am to 6pm on 0300 456 3565.
Finally, don’t forget that as a contractor you have a statutory right to claim interest from clients who don’t pay their bills on time, thanks to The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act.