How often should you send emails chasing payments?

How often should you send emails chasing payments? This is a question I regularly get asked. Is it every day, every other day, once a week? In this article I look at how regularly you should send email to get maximum impact.

Process makes getting paid easy

Getting the right process in place makes getting paid easy

How often should I send chasing emails? I regularly get asked that question by clients.

The true answer is. How long is a piece of string?

How often you send them out will depend on an awful lot of factors:

The service or product you’re providing, your payment terms, if you get money upfront, if you invoice on stage payments, things like that.

For this article, I’m going to use the example of 30-day terms. It doesn’t mean to say you should be giving 30-day terms but it’s the easiest way to explain how frequently I think you should be sending out chasing emails.

So you email your invoice over. Two or three days later, I would drop them an email with a subject line: Is there anything else I can do for you? In that email, mention you’ve sent Invoice 200 and just make sure they’ve received it and that it hasn’t gone in their email spam folder. Because you’re sending this one to them personally, rather than automated. Hopefully, you’ll get a response to say they’ve got it and have no questions, which is brilliant.

Then, 14 days later, drop them another quick email. Again, it’s a personal email and put in the subject line: How’s everything going, can we be of service? Something along those lines. In the body of the email mention how you delivered this service a few days ago, ask if they’re happy with it and ask if they have all your contact details should they have any questions. Perhaps if they’re pleased, they could drop a testimonial back. Then, include, by the way, “the invoice you said you’d received from us, have you got any questions with it, or is there anything you need our help with to resolve.”

Fingers crossed, from that, you’ll get a response. Either your testimonial to say they’re very pleased or, they may have a question they need your help with or it will generate you a phone call.

All of those things are ways to follow up to make sure they haven’t got any questions about the invoice. By doing those two, that should be enough to get the invoice opened and make sure there aren’t any problems with it.

I wouldn’t send another email until after the payment date. Maybe email them the day after the payment was due with a subject line of: Oops I think my bank’s made an error.

Now again, you’re saying it’s your bank’s fault. They’re likely to open that email to find out why you think your bank’s got an error. Again, in the subject you’re kind of saying to them, “we think something’s happened with our bank, we noted this invoice was due for payment yesterday and our bank doesn’t appear to have received it. Can you just check at your end to see if it’s gone through and let us know so we can chase our bank?” Again, you’re making it your fault, or your bank’s fault.

If they’ve genuinely forgotten, the chances are they’ll make the payment there and then. If they don’t and they don’t get in contact with you, there’s probably an issue.

So a week after due date, I drop them another email, along the lines of Sorry, there seems to be some confusion with this invoice. In the email body you can then put, “we really hope you would have had this invoice paid by now. Apparently, we haven’t so if there’s an issue, can you please tell us what that problem is so we can resolve it.”

Hopefully, that will generate you a payment. However, there is this small percentage of people for whom it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then one final email, 14 days after due date (so if you give 30 days’ credit, it is now 44 days’ credit). So, 44 days after due date, drop them an email to say, “we’re really sorry, we don’t seem to be able to communicate with you and since this is now 14 days overdue, if you don’t pay us within 7 days, then we’re going to have no alternative than to send this out for another way of getting paid. We can’t control what costs will be involved, therefore these costs will be passed on to you and also, if we don’t receive payment within seven days, here’s the amount of interest already on this invoice, here’s the administration we’ll be adding on to it as well. Both of those come under the law of the Late Payment Commercial Interest Debt Act 1998. We really don’t want to have to pass this on to you. Unless we get payment within 7 days, I’m really sorry but we don’t have a choice.”

So that’s what I would do. In summary:

  • Send two emails pre-due date
  • A maximum of three emails post-due date

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