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Whether you have an SME business or global operation, late payments affect every company. Not only does unpaid invoices affect the bank balance short term but it effects long term business strategies too. Poor cashflow impacts on all aspects of an organisation and threatens business continuity. You may struggle to pay suppliers and find yourself rejecting growth opportunities and unable to successfully fulfil new contracts. Chasing money or being chased for money has the potential to ruin commercial relationships too and reputation is everything to a successful business. 
A delay in payment can occur for many reasons. Whether the reasons given are legitimate, or just excuses to bide more time for payment, we’ve heard them all before. Here’s a list of the best excuses that we’ve heard over the years. Brace yourself…. 
We can’t pay you until we’ve been paid. An excuse heard time and time again. Have you agreed to only be paid by your client once they have been paid? If you haven’t then you’re well within your right to demand payment according to your Terms and Conditions of Business. You have a statutory right to be paid on time as agreed. 
You didn’t send an invoice. This is an easy way to delay payment. Make sure you ask your client to send you an email acknowledgement upon receipt of your invoice. Sending reminder emails prior to the payment due date can be affective, as can sending monthly statements which can prevent lost invoice disputes. 
The cheque is in the post! An excuse we’ve heard lots of times before! More and more companies now are paying by bank transfer so using the excuse that a cheque has been written and is in the post is not all that believable. Encourage clients to use bank online, automated methods to send over cash rather than cheques. You could also insist the client cancels the cheque and sends another one by first class recorded delivery. 
There’s a dispute on the account. Raising a spurious dispute can be a way of delaying or avoiding payment. If your client mentions their dissatisfaction with your firm’s work well before the invoice payment deadline, their complaint is more likely to be genuine. Consider writing something into your terms and conditions that will protect against spurious disputes. 
There’s no-one in the office to authorise the payment. You can either confirm when the authorised person will return to the office and chase payment of your unpaid invoice on that date. Alternatively, you can ask to speak with someone in a senior position, and do not take ‘no’ for an answer. You may find, through persistence, you are patched through to someone who can help. 
We often find that you will receive the money they are owed if you put aside some time and call your client directly and are persistent. Should late payment be a recurring issue, or you are repeatedly ignored, you may find it beneficial to seek the services of a third-party debt collector such as Creditreform. We’re specialists in the collection of debt owed to you. All cases are undertaken on a no win no fee basis where we only charge a commission against the monies recovered. In many cases we recover our costs and interest from the debtor, so you don’t end up paying anything. 
For more information about Creditreform UK and to discuss how our debt collection process works, please call 0121 442 5330, alternatively email [email protected] 
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