Dealing with Debt Series – Part Three: Action
As a business owner, the first time a customer fails to pay and you realise you need to take action, it is a scary and worrying time. But it needn’t be. Hopefully you have already put in place the right procedures and communicated these to your customer. Now all you need to do is follow through on those steps.
Reasons why you may have to take action on debt
This is pretty simple – your customer has failed to adhere to the rules you have in place for payment of your invoice or terms of credit. This may mean they have missed one or more regular payments, they have ignored your invoice or they have called to tell you that they cannot pay.
What to do next
Just follow the procedures you have in place, depending on the type of debt that now exists. Your action could take the following approach:
- A phone call to the customer to remind them of payment after a set time has passed. Try to take payment over the phone if possible.
Keep it informal at this stage.
- A strongly worded letter reminding them of your rules and the consequences of not paying. This should include all details of the debt, when it was due and a reminder that they have been contacted previously.
Make sure they know how much to pay and when.
- This action could include passing the debt to a collection agency or getting a solicitor involved.
- You can make a claim via the County Court Money Online service, this option should be your last resort as the consquences can be servre and have a long lasting effoct effect on your customer,see my blog, 6 ways the court can help collect money owed to you.
If your customer has called to tell you they cannot pay, they should be placed on a different ‘pathway’ that may include different payment terms over a longer period of time, it’s your choice.
Avoiding future action
As soon as your customer is late with payment, you need to decide how you will deal with the customer in the future. A late payment may simply mean no credit terms or payment upon completeion of service.
Failure to pay could, quite justifiably, mean that you insist on payment before any additional service is offered. Or perhaps you will decide never to deal with the customer again. This is very much situation dependent, however, with the right approach, taking action on money owed early can lead to improved cash flow and repeat business. Whatever you do, if you follow the steps we’ve outlined throughout this series at least you know you have done the right thing at every stage – because you were prepared.
Should you want to find out more about correct procedures or, to find out more on how we can help, please feel free to contact us.
Director at Debt Solve UK Ltd T/A as DSL.