You’re fortunate if your customers pay on time. You won’t be the only one calling those customers that don’t pay on time. AIPB interviewed Charles W. Kyd, founder, Exceluser.com, a site for Excel users, and former CFO and VP-Finance for many small-growth companies, to help you get your payments. Below we will be discussing Dealing with Slow Receivables.
Below, he provides ways to handle those excuses and ploys, which worked for him, and that you need to be prepared for.
- Regardless of the cause, having incorrect paperwork can land your invoice in someone’s “problem file”. There could be actual problems, such as damage from shipping, incorrect quantities, pricing errors, etc. Emails and follow-up letters will end up in the same file.
- When placing a call, you may get a thankful response: “I was hoping you would call. We need to figure this out before I can pay you.”
You may get a response: “It is not in front of me, I’ll have to call you back.”
Explain you are busy, can you call them; suggest a date and time. If they waver on the date and time, graciously suggest one: “Can I call you tomorrow at 10? Would that be suitable?” Then when you call, you can tell whoever answers, “Jane asked me to call now.”
Avoid having a harsh response or tone that suggests that you think they are lying. For example, “All right, then you tell me when to call.” Similar to you, the person you are talking to is just doing his or her job. Don’t provide a personal reason to evade you.
- When a customer uses the following excuse: “We never received/lost your invoice.” This can happen. Easily email a scanned copy and follow up with a phone call to make sure they confirm receiving it. If for some reason your invoice copy is obtainable only on your screen, there are reasonably priced screenshot programs available that make excellent duplicates (not like the screenshot key with Microsoft Office).
- When you don’t send enough copies of your invoice, you may receive the following response: “You didn’t send enough copies of the invoice.” Asking: “Exactly how many copies do you require?” will avoid your invoice laying around until an uninterested employee decides to make the copies. Fax, mail or email an image of the invoices, and make note of the request in the customer’s file for future reference, both the number of copies needed and the explanation. Stick to the facts; don’t assume that it is a poor excuse: “I’d be happy to send the invoice again, but is there an explanation why a copy can’t be made?”
- Being told: “Our computer is not working.” This may be true, however, companies can manually write checks.
Do you feel more confident now dealing with Slow Receivables? Sometimes people try to get away with just about anything, but it all depends on how you handle it that will provide the best possible outcome.
Looking for more bookkeeping information or tips? Check out our post on 5 Common Bookkeeping Pitfalls – and How to Avoid Them