How often should you chase invoice payments?

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    Payments

    How often should you chase invoice payments?

    When it comes to chasing invoice payments, how often is too often and how often is not enough?

    This can be a difficult question to answer, as it depends on a variety of factors including the size of your business, the type of product or service you offer, and how long you're willing to wait before taking action.

    Chasing customers for payment can be awkward, but the reality is that if you don't do it, you may never get paid. The key is to strike a balance between being assertive and being polite in your payment follow-ups, and to have a clear process in place so that everyone knows what to expect.

    In this blog post, we will provide some guidance on how frequently you should chase invoice payments from your customers.

    Send your first reminder when the invoice is issued

    Sending out your first reminder when the invoice is issued might seem pushy, but the opposite is actually true.

    A gentle reminder as soon as the invoice is issued lets your customer know that you're on top of things and expect to be paid on time. It also prevents them from suffering from 'bill shock' when they see how much they owe you in one go.

    Be sure to thank your customer for their order, attach the relevant documentation and confirm all details such as due date, invoice details, attach an invoice copy, and your payment terms.

    Having all this information on hand will make it much easier for your customer to make payment and sending it early will help avoid any potential confusion or delays.

    Lastly, ensuring you are invoicing clients correctly, and including the right information on your invoices means you can reduce your chances of receiving invoice queries and disputes that can delay payment. 

    Remind them 7 days before the invoice is due 

    When it comes to late payments, prevention is often better, and cheaper than the cure.

    You can avoid having to chase payments by sending a reminder to your customer before their invoice is even due.

    This gives them a gentle nudge to make sure they have the money set aside to pay you, and also shows that you are organized and on top of things.

    It's often helpful to include the original invoice with the reminder. This way, your customer has all the information they need to make payment without having to search for it.

    When you need to remind customers ahead of an invoice due date, you can use this before due invoice reminder template - created by accounts receivables experts.

    Remind them on the invoice due date

    On the day that the invoice is due, send a reminder to your customer that payment is required today. This can be done in the form of an email, or, if you have their phone number, as a text message payment reminder as well.

    While emails are easy to overlook, a text message is often hard to ignore SMS payment reminders have an open rate of 98%, so this will help you reach your customer on the go and give you the best chance of receiving payment on the due date.

    Follow up 3 days after the invoice due date

    Once the invoice is overdue, you should follow up with your customer as soon as possible. This can be in the form of an email, phone call, or text message.

    If you’re going to send an email, we recommend attaching all relevant details and attaching an invoice copy to your email communications.

    If you’d prefer to speak to your customer on the phone, have all the relevant information in front of you so that you can quickly answer any questions they may have.

    It’s also important to be polite and professional when communicating with customers about overdue payments. This will help build and maintain a good relationship with your customers.

    If attaching invoices to your payment reminders is time-consuming, or sometimes gets forgotten, consider utilizing a payment portal where customers can view all upcoming and previous payments, download invoices, and make payments via their chosen method.

    Follow up via email a week after the invoice is due

    Once a week has passed since the invoice was due, it’s time to follow up with your customer via email and increase the sense of urgency in the wording of your payment chasing.

    You could say something like: “I hope you have been able to arrange payment of your invoice from last week? Please let me know if there is anything preventing you from making payment so that we can assist”.

    As with all other chasing emails, remember to include a copy of the original invoice and any other helpful information, such as payment terms and conditions.

    If you are having a consistent issue with a customer not paying their invoices on time, you may want to consider implementing late payment fees to discourage customers from paying late in the future.  

    Follow up via phone and email 2 weeks after the invoice is overdue 

    If the invoice is two or more weeks overdue, it’s time to start making phone calls as well as sending emails. Again, be polite and professional, but firm in your request for payment. It may be helpful to mention any late payment fees that have been, or will be incurred.

    We recommend being well-prepared for accounts receivables phone calls, or even utilizing a pre-planned script. This ensures you are ready for any reasons or excuses and know how best to respond when faced with your customers’ answer.

    It’s important to keep track of all correspondence with customers regarding outstanding payments. This will not only help you stay organized but will also be helpful if you need to escalate the situation.

    Offer a payment plan via phone and email 3 weeks after the invoice is overdue

    If there has been no contact from the customer or payment within 3 weeks of the invoice being overdue, it’s time to give them another call. During this phone call, you should:

    • Politely remind them of the outstanding payment and how long it has been overdue
    • Inquire about when they anticipate being able to make the payment
    • Attempt to come to an agreement on a reasonable timeframe for making  the payment

    If this customer has communicated they are having trouble affording the payment, are experiencing cash flow issues, or need to delay paying the full amount, consider discussing a payment installment plan with them over the phone.

    This will break down their invoice into smaller easier to manage payments. You can then confirm the agreed payment plan in writing via email.

    Sending a follow-up email with a proposed payment plan

    If you were unable to come to an agreement during your phone call, the next step is to send a follow-up email that includes:

    • A summary of your previous conversation
    • Your proposed payment plan
    • The consequences for not adhering to the payment plan (i.e. late fees, legal action, etc.)

    Once you have sent this email, give your client a few days to respond. If you don’t hear back from them, or they do not adhere to the payment plan, then you can move on to the next step: sending a formal demand letter.

    Send debt collections notice when the invoice is 30 days overdue 

    The next payment reminder we recommend is a debt collections notice email or letter.

    This is a more formal way of reminding your client that they have an outstanding invoice and need to make a payment.

    It’s important to note that before you send this kind of notice, you should check with your lawyer or accountant to ensure it’s appropriate and compliant in your state or country.

    When sending a collections notice, we recommend that you:

    • Include the amount outstanding
    • Mention how many days the invoice is overdue
    • State what action will be taken next if payment isn’t received (e.g. referring the matter to a debt collection agency)
    • Provide a date by which payment must be made

    If you are struggling with how to phrase your debt collections notice, you can use our debt collection letter templates.

    Sending a collections notice is often the last resort for businesses when trying to recoup payments from customers so be sure you do your research on debt recovery and understand the process and implications.

    With the right debt collections provider with a polite but persistent approach to debt recovery, you can recover your late payments whilst maintaining good customer relationships.

    The right frequency to chase invoice payments

     

    The frequency you choose to chase payments should be based on how overdue the payment is and how important that particular client is to your business.

    For example, if you are chasing a large corporate customer who has been slow in paying invoices in the past, you may want to chase sooner than you would for a smaller customer who has always paid on time.

    The schedule we've listed above can be used as a best practice template, but feel free to tailor it to your own business needs and your customers’ payment behaviors.

    With Chaser, you can utilize automated, customizable payment reminder schedules for each of your different customer groups and chase invoices at the intervals you choose with accounts receivables automation software.

    Try accounts receivables automation for free, for 14 days to save time and get your invoices paid faster.

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