Collecting money for invoices and chasing payment for outstanding invoices is a big part of a business’s credit control function. And, with a third of small businesses seeing an increase in late payments, having the right systems, procedures, and follow-up email templates in place to support your credit control team when dealing with overdue and late payments is vital.
Email is one of the most common and trusted forms of communication between individuals and businesses. So it is not uncommon to schedule email reminders and use chase email templates as the most tactful way to approach an overdue invoice, reminding the customer that there is an outstanding debt and the balance must be paid.
However, achieving the right tone in your email in order to get results is key.
To help, at Direct Route we’ve highlighted some top tips and insights we’ve gathered throughout our experience and provided these below.
An overdue invoice email
Late payments happen, fact. However, how we deal with these instances is within our control.
This is when overdue invoice templates are required to ensure a business’s cash flow keeps flowing.
Put simply, an overdue invoice email is an initial piece of communication sent to your customer when an invoice is not paid.
This email should include information on how much is outstanding when the due date for payment was, and methods of payment accepted.
Sending a quick email as soon as an outstanding invoice hits your desk can ensure a higher chance of success. It can also help you maintain relationships, as fortunately, most customers are late in paying due to losing invoices or simply forgetting, so receiving a reminder email is more than enough.
You can also help mitigate the risk of an invoice becoming overdue by contacting customers before the due date to check that everything is OK and that the customer is aware that there is an up-and-coming payment due.
This strategy helps keep the invoice fresh in your customer’s mind and helps build strong relationships.
What you should include in a past due to invoice email
- Mention the invoice in the subject line – catching the recipient’s attention and making it clear what the email is concerning from the start. You can also include your company name or what the invoice is for to provide further clarity.
- Be polite – greet your customer politely, yes you are chasing payment, but you also want to maintain relationships. Opening an initial invoice email with good wishes or a personal statement (depending on your connection) can go a long way.
- Provide all relevant information, including when the invoice was due and how much is currently outstanding. Double-check all information before sending the email to ensure that all details and outstanding payments are correct. Remember, you need to get to the point quickly.
- Make sure to state all viable payment methods you accept and include any payment portal links or bank details as required. Ideally, you want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to pay.
- Mention the next steps. Once an invoice has passed a particular stage of arrears, look to include “next steps,” i.e., late payment charges, additional interest, notice that outstanding invoices will be passed to a debt collection agency, etc.
Note: It’s not always necessary to include the `next steps` information in your initial email communications.
For those invoices which are 60+ days overdue, your email should still be polite. However, at this stage, you need to inform the customer that late payment is not ok-adding an element of urgency to your reminder.
Unfortunately, at this stage, the likelihood of getting paid does decrease, so a more strongly worded email that offers a practical solution while remaining professional at all times is required. The aim is to receive payment and a mutually agreeable outcome for all involved.
Things to avoid in your invoice emails:
- An unfriendly tone
- Lack of humanity
- Too much automation
- Aggressive or judgemental approach
- Chasing payment from the wrong person.
Note: When a customer pays, whether this is early, on time, or late, you should always send a `thanks for paying` email in response. Reinforcing relationships and ensuring future payments are made promptly. This type of email also encourages positive behaviour.
Your business’s bottom line is dependent on setting up the appropriate email templates and getting all credit communications right.
Having tried and tested templates in place helps support your credit control team and is your best chance at successful collections.
However, not all credit control teams have standard email templates built into their credit control armoury to use at their disposal.
At Direct Route, we can help support your credit control team with all communications. Building on our years of experience and skill in commercial debt collection, let us help you today.
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