When the bill is long overdue and a customer has yet to pay up, what should you do? Your first inclination might be to rant and rave and threaten legal action. However, don’t act too quickly. If you want to maintain a good relationship with the client and have a better chance of recouping all of the money you are owed, you should try a collection agency.
Patience is a Virtue
Businesses depend on their clients paying up, so it can be very frustrating to wait for days and days past the due date. However, as hard as it may be, give your clients at least a month to pay up. If you turned the account over to a legal agency, you’d likely end up waiting at least that long, if not longer, so it really doesn’t do you any harm to wait. It can also end up strengthening your relationship with the client since it makes your business look understanding and professional. Plus, small things do sometimes happen in life that can make paying on time impossible for the client. Just keep careful track of how much time has passed since the original due date; letting bills go unpaid without consequence for too long can greatly reduce your chances of recouping the money you are owed.
Talk it Out
When a customer doesn’t pay as promised, refrain from making any assumptions about why the non-payment occurred. Instead, have someone from your business or your collections partner contact the client directly. Being respectful and straightforwardly asking a client why he hasn’t paid can go a long way to understanding what went wrong and how to remedy it. If you find, for example, that a long-time, usually reliable customer has hit an unexpected financial rough spot, you can be patient and work something out that will allow the relationship to remain intact. Or, if you find that identity theft or some other fraudulent activity is the reason for the non-payment, you can avoid wasting time, energy, and money on activities that won’t show any results. Finding out what’s going on firsthand, in any case, can provide you with valuable information about the best way to proceed.
Slowly Turn Up the Heat
What if you’ve tried talking to the client and have sent more than your fair share of “gentle reminders?” Unfortunately, this does happen, and that’s when you have to start ‘turning up the heat” through a careful process known as escalation. Once your customer realizes you mean business, they may get to business and resolve the debt.