No matter what the size of your business it is essential that your customers and clients pay your bills. Without this there is really not much point being in business. But what do you do when they don’t pay?
Recovering a late or unpaid invoice takes time and can be an unpleasant and unwanted process in the day to day running of a business. It is something that you can do yourself but it can really pay to get an expert to do this for you.
Have you got standard payment terms that are clearly indicated to your customers? If not then the invoice should be settled within 30 days of delivery of the goods or services, if this is too long for you then you really need to specify a payment date on your invoice and/or contract. And agree this with your customer.
Whatever your payment terms are, if the date for payment passes and no payment is received you can begin to take steps to get that payment.
Sometimes, with some customers it is just an oversight and a phone call, email or reminder letter will bring your payment to you with no further action at all. If no payment arrives however and you have keep on making further requests and get nowhere then you need to consider the best way to move forward.
The choice that you make will be determined by cost; how much are you owed by your debtor and how much will it cost you to recover it.
You could instruct a debt collection agency to act for you. They can get you very good results, by their nature they are likely to be more forceful than you, or even solicitors, in their manner of seeking the payment. They are however expensive and depending on the tactics that they use could alienate your customers for whom this might be an oversight or one off because of difficult circumstances and might be put off from using you again.
You could plan ahead and use a factoring company. They effectively buy the invoice off you, usually for less than its value, they then will chase your customer for payment. Whilst this gives you the benefit of being paid around 90% of the invoice almost straight away. You have no control over the steps taken by the factoring agent to recover the invoice from your customer.
If you instruct a solicitor you know that they are going to follow the correct procedures laid out in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) so that should you need to issue court proceedings you will not face any problems. It might well be that a letter demanding payment of your invoice from a solicitor will sufficiently worry your debtor and show your serious intentions that you only have to pay for one letter, which will be money very well spent.
Obviously one letter doesn’t always work and it might be necessary to take matters further and issue proceedings in the county court. We will advise you whether this is worthwhile and what it will cost you. If your claim is worth less than £10,000 it will be allocated to the Small Claims Track and in this track there is no award of costs, so even if you win, you have to pay your own costs. Depending on the size of the debt it might still be worthwhile paying for advice and assistance with this.
We can offer various fixed fee packages depending on your needs and the size of the debt that you are chasing.
It doesn’t cost a fortune to instruct a solicitor and might well save you money in the long run.
If you have any queries regarding debt recovery and how we can help you, just pick up the phone and have a chat.