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Author: Kerry Bland

How to collect invoices successfully

How to collect invoices SUCCESSFULLY at the end of EVERY month

Be prepared

Gather your ammo, always have in front of you as much information about your customer and the debt as you can, including having the invoices and their personal file at hand.

Take notes

Document everything that is said, either on the phone or in meetings, have a secretary take notes or voice recordings which is very useful so you can reflect back on what has been said in case there are any disputes.

Keep a personal connection

Always keep the customer informed after sending products or providing services and ideally just before the invoice payment date arrives, ask open questions like, “is everything satisfactory with the invoice?”  and “is the payment due date ok?” or “if there are any other questions?”.

Don’t jump to conclusions

The initial collection call should aim to confirm the debt has not been paid,

  • The unpaid invoice should not be seen as a collection issue just yet and may be down to miscommunication, so you want to be careful.
  • Consider things from your side of the business.
  • Has the product or service been shipped or sent correctly in the agreed time frame or if the invoice wasn’t sent or received?

Late invoices 

If the invoice is late, start with Hello it’s______ from company ______ I noticed your behind in this invoice. Was there a problem with it? Once the client gives you the reasons be sure to document it and be nice but in control, the tone of your voice can affect the way the conversation may go stay upbeat and cheery and your more than likely to have a more positive response from your client always ask if there is anything you can do to help with the invoice and if they need any more information about the business etc showing that you are doing all that you can to help, if the caller senses your under pressure they may try to negotiate a better deal with you so stay upbeat and positive and this should result in full invoice amounts getting paid.

Stay calm

If the person you call gets a little irate. Don’t automatically go on the defence, just take a deep breath, remain calm and collected and maybe suggest calling them back at another time.  You can usually tell when things are turning but keep dialogue constructive, and let the person feel he’s making headway.

Avoid confrontation 

Try to asses if the excuses that your being told for non-payment are legitimate.

If the customer says “someone in payroll forgot to make the payment”, Call the payroll dept to confirm that. You can usually tell when someone is being sincere or over the phone – they may stutter slightly or sound as though they’re caught off guard, usually your first gut reaction is right.

Open communication is key  

Someone who may not be able to pay up front may be able to pay in smaller instalments or at a little later than usual date, so ask open questions like how much can you afford to pay?” That way you can help the debtor figure out how to get the money to you without paying exorbitant interest, this also reduces the risk of confrontation and makes the debtor feel more at ease.

Give options 

Offer different payment methods to your clients and always get signatures. Either email, fax or meet in person to get the authorisation form signed and of course make sure yourself or HR get copies of these.

Finalisation

Provide the debtor with a Verbal summary of what was discussed on the phone, including how and when a payment will be made, once a payment method has been agreed ask the debtor to call back to confirm a payment has been sent.

 

A Debtors Concerto in 5 Movements

There is usually a song for every occasion but have you ever considered the top five tunes in relation to credit control and debt collection? As cash flow continues to be The prime factor in the failing of any business maybe it’s time to listen to the Jack Russell choice of five appropriate songs.

  1. A good one to start with would be “I shot the sheriff”. We are suggesting here that you do not carry out such an action as you need these guys on your side!high Court sheriffs work in conjunction with the Jack Russell team and have proven to be highly effective at recovering County Court judgement debts so for once don’t listen to Bob Marley!
  2. As Celine Dion is back touring in the UK this year then we should mention one of her songs namely “Think twice”. this is extremely sound advice for your credit control team when you are deciding on whether to give credit to a new customer. Make sure that you carry out a thorough credit search on anyone that you are likely to do business with for the first time.
  3. “Patience” Is something that you always need when you are negotiating settlement on any contentious debts. So instead of taking the strong arm tactics and saying “take that”it could be wise to weigh up all the options particularly legal costs before embarking on any lengthy legal proceedings.
  4. Elvis Costello May have the right idea when it comes to cash flow so get into a positive frame of mind and Open “pump it up”. Get out there and do some networking and make some new contacts and that way you may avoid olivers army knocking on your door!
  5. We believe that we have saved the most appropriate song for last. The artists and the song says it all. “Money for nothing” By Dire Straits.

 

Enjoy your day and keep on rocking in the free world!

 

Blog by Kerry Bland
Director of Jack Russell Debt Collection and Legal Process Servers

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