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Keep on top of slow payers

May 9, 2023

Perhaps one of the most unethical and unfair things one can do in business is to not pay the bill when it should be paid. 

When you get a bill, you have received the goods or services and you hold the upper hand. There is little your supplier can do to get paid without it costing a lot of money.

Of course some people unexpectedly get into a tight spot financially. The reasonable thing to do is to send a message to the supplier apologising for not being able to pay on time and requesting an arrangement to spread payments. Don’t ignore overdue bills.

There is talk of a recession looming. This is, if it occurs, likely to lead to more people having difficulty paying their bills. 

  • If you think you might be one of them, consider ordering only what you know you can pay for.
  • If you’re a supplier, you should be planning now, before it’s too late, for how you deal with unpaid invoices.
  • If your business has a large number of customers, none of them being of a significant size, you are in a much healthier situation than those depending on one or just a few big clients. If not, can you change things now to get more, smaller customers to spread the risk?
  • In tough times small businesses can get badly hurt when a big customer won’t pay. Continuing to supply that customer to keep them going, in the hope their situation improves so they can pay you can be disastrous.
  • ·Can you get deposits or increase the amount of deposit you ask for up-front?
  • Are you spelling out your terms for payment before you take a job and making sure the customer is aware of them?
  • If you want to charge interest on overdue accounts, you need to make this clear at the start.
  • A customer who has to be constantly followed up for payment is wasting your time. You might be better off without them. It might be better to get rid of them now, while there’s still a good chance of replacing them. You could make better use of your time promoting your business.
  • Are you keeping in touch with customers? Emails are such a cheap and easy way to communicate. Develop a system for sending messages to your clients and customers regularly. Set yourself specific dates when this has to be done. Think about special offers, tips and suggestions that could be useful to them.
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Chartered Accountants Howick Auckland Chapel Road Blue
4 Johns Lane, Pakuranga
Auckland, 2010
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