Securing timely payments while maintaining happy customers typically includes a careful and deliberate approach when it comes to credit and payment terms and how they are laid down in contracts and agreements.
To begin with, research your customers’ ability to pay and their payment history before you sign them up and then be very clear in your communication about the amount they will be paying for the products and services, either as a one-off fee or as regular withdrawals.
Also, it is extremely important to spell out your policies and procedures when it comes to taking payment and collecting unpaid invoices at the very beginning of the relationship. When customers do end up in financial difficulties they tend to prioritize their bills and then make a decision about who gets paid and who can wait. Being clear about the terms mitigates the risk of being at the end of their list. It can also be useful to include offers of payment plans to defaulting customers.
How To Set Up The Payment Agreement – Some basic rules
- Review your customers’ history using credit agencies, company accounts and bank and trade references.
- Clear terms and conditions in the contract that protect your rights, and limit your liabilities. Include credit limits and credit periods.
- Make sure that the customer accepts your terms – stating them in the invoice may not be sufficient
- Set time limits for disputing a purchase and spell out the circumstances in which the contract might be breached or be ended.
- Issue clear and accurate invoices which refer to late payment legislation if applicable.
- Promote electronic payment to prevent cheques bouncing or going missing.
- Immediately contact non-paying customers to resolve the issue – don’t wait