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40 politely-worded templates to get invoices paid

Five steps to get overdue invoices paid

Five steps to get overdue invoices paid

Just how many hours of your business days have you wasted chasing clients with overdue payments? You spend time thinking of how to approach them. If you get into niceties, you probably might even delay asking them upfront because ‘What if they're going through something bad and I only ruin it further?

And so the cycle goes on.

Late payments are perhaps the most significant obstacle when it comes to exercising credit control. Even though most clients deliver payments on time, every business has that one client that just doesn't stick to timely payments. Getting payments from them is like reaching down someone's throat to pull out a bone. 

But we're here to change that. Want to know how you can get those late payers to deliver you your hard-earned bucks? Keep reading!

Step 1. Be clear about your payment procedure

Your pre-work contracts are the first line of defence when dealing with late payment arguments later on. When discussing a project or a subscription with the client, it's essential to talk about payments in clear and open words. This shouldn't be in only a  written format, but it should also comprise of a few verbal discussions about how the payment is going to work out between you two. 

Will there be any upfront payment? Is it going to be a set timeline for different milestones? Or will you take the entire bag of cash at the end of the task? Preplanning a payment plan will help you avoid the worst-case scenarios in most circumstances and help you plan ahead if you encounter a problem.

Your pre-work contracts are the first line of defence when dealing with late payment arguments later on

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Step 2. Notify the client when their payment deadline is near

Okay, so the payment may still not be overdue, but here, you can take a couple of steps to notify clients whose payments are about to become overdue. This way, you'll be able to extract maximum payments before the time is over, and you'll have to focus on lesser overdue clients. Also, we are all human, and things can be forgotten or misplaced. So, if your client isn't aware of the upcoming payment date, or have lost the invoice a friendly payment reminder can make a big difference and get that invoice paid before it's overdue. 

First, draw up a list of the clients that are supposed to pay you by a specific date and the amount to be paid. Then, you can send out emails or text messages sometime before the due date. This could be a month, two weeks, one week, or even 3-4 days before the due date. Totally your call. This will serve as a voluntary reminder and help you get organized responses on who's due and when. With an accounts receivables automation software like Chaser, this is something you can automate so you don't have to spend time manually sending out payment reminders. Chaser lets you set up payment reminder schedules and personalised templates so that you can sit back and watch your invoices get paid.  

Step 3. Begin the conversation

Okay, now that the invoice deadline is over, it's officially a late payment. Unfortunately, you also have payments to make ahead. Suppliers, caterers, or whoever you're supposed to pay is waiting for the payment you have to make from the invoices that are now overdue. The constant pestering and waiting make you feel antsy. 

Now, you can either call the client and yell about your own problems and erratic credit management. Or, you can use the first call after the deadline to set a more balanced approach. In most cases, the second option turns out to be much safer. It's possible that the client has a genuine problem and is already doing their best to resolve it. And even if they're stalling for no solid reason, becoming desperate and harsh won't really lead you anywhere.

Once the deadline passes, you can either call them personally or send an email expressing your concern. Even if you are sceptical, try to keep your feelings contained for the first few days. Remember, one wrong word or one unnecessary argument can lead you to lose an otherwise great client. Hence, you have to proceed with caution. 

Even though you're the one being tested here, a little bit of tolerance will yield better results than impulsive or sentimental behaviour. Instead of resorting to jibes, you can get your payments by appealing to their logic and trying to understand if there's a genuine problem.

It's possible that the client has a genuine problem and is already doing their best to resolve it. And even if they're stalling for no solid reason, becoming desperate and harsh won't really lead you anywhere.

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Step 4. Follow up periodically

Once you've personally contacted the client, chances are that they'll try to speed up the invoice processing with more seriousness. However, a single phone call can never really guarantee that you'll get your payments cleared straight away, which is why you may need to do a rigorous follow-up sometime after the deadline. 

You can leave emails, you can send text messages, or even call them directly to remind them that they owe you a timely payment. And no, there's no need to be nice and meek and polite even after weeks of late invoices. 

The duration of this follow-up, the tone in which you deal with the client, and the extra time you allow them to pay the invoice are entirely up to you. Instead of sending these emails manually and keeping track of the overdue invoices and the actions you've taken in a spreadsheet, do what thousands of others businesses are doing today, use Chaser. In Chaser, the personalised payment reminders are triggered by how overdue the invoice is, and you can toughen the tone in each template the more overdue the invoice gets. Also, if the client is slowly disbursing it in parts, an occasional phone call would be a good reminder.

However, suppose there's an absolute lack of cooperation and courtesy even with smaller payments. In that case, you're free to express your disapproval however you like - within the legal and moral confines, of course! 

Step 5. Use a debt collection service 

If nothing works out and your client has still left you empty-handed, feel free to escalate the invoices to a debt collection agency. 

Before doing so, it is worth mentioning that each invoice and case is different, and therefore should be treated differently. For instance, if you're in a milestone, part-payment setting, then you can halt the client's work orders until they process payments for the previous work. If they still resist, you can add delayed payment charges to the total amount, which may or may not grow with time. 

However, if you see no light at the end of the tunnel and the client is making no effort to pay the outstanding balance then escalating the invoices to a debt collection agency is the next step. The debt collection agency will take the invoice off your plate, act as a third party and, in most cases, offer legal escalation should it be necessary. 

We have previously written about when you should escalate an invoice to a debt collection agency, so if you're not sure when's the time, please have a look at the article


As much as we all appreciate on-the-spot payments, they’re a utopia of the business world. Therefore, you need to have a concrete invoice delivery plan in place so that late payments do not cause disruption in other business aspects.


If you want to optimise your credit control process to avoid late payments and bad debt, speak to one of Chaser's credit control experts here.

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