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How to deal with clients who won’t pay

You have done the work and have sent your invoice to your client. You’re waiting for payment but it doesn’t come. How do you approach your client for payment without sounding aggressive or losing the relationship?

Send friendly reminders

By sending a friendly email, it comes across as an easy-going reminder which your clients will appreciate. Make sure to give enough time in between reminders so that you don’t come across too pushy.

Check your invoice template

Be sure that your invoices are easy to follow. Make sure that your payment terms and your payment methods are as simple as possible. Don’t give your clients any excuses not to pay.

Emotion

Try not to go on the offensive when first chasing for payment. This could result in the relationship between you and your client deteriorating. It could be a simple mistake like your invoice slipping through the cracks, so don’t go in with guns blazing.

Incentive

Clients are more likely to pay if they are given an incentive. For example, you could agree that if the client makes payment within a certain amount of days, they will receive a 5% discount.

Interest

On the other hand, you could make the client aware that interest will be charged on the outstanding invoice if payment isn’t received within the payment terms. Although this will most likely be stated in your terms of business, it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this on your invoice.

Stop work

If you’re struggling to get payment from a client who is still demanding work from you, then stop working. If the client hasn’t paid you for work already done, then why should you keep working? Let the client know that you will no longer be continuing to work until they pay you for previous work done.

Court

Weigh up the value of debt against the potential legal costs, and make a commercial decision whether or not to take them to court. Although you may not want to swallow your pride, sometimes it is more cost effective to write off the invoice as bad debt, than spending more money on legal costs.

However, sending a Letter Before Action can sometimes do the trick! With our fixed fees, this will only cost you £50 plus VAT. Check out our free downloads on our debt recovery page for more information.

Francesca Damario