Why do Clients Default?
There are several reasons why clients may fail to meet up to their own end of the bargain. There could be genuine reasons for this, or the client may just be unwilling to pay. The important thing for you is to ensure you inform them to do their part, that is, pay up. And one of the fastest ways to do this effectively is via email. It is safe to assume that their reasons could be genuine so that your email would not sound accusatory. However if after several reminders, there is evidence that shows negligence on the client’s part, necessary actions should be taken. We are not dealing with this aspect at the moment, here, we only want to consider how to send reminders requesting for the payment of delayed invoice(s). Again, some clients may actually be in serious financial challenges; you may want to consider offering them discounts.
An opening greeting is essential in this email. Although you are about demand for your money, the scenario needs not to be hostile. Since this person already qualified for credit lines from your company in the first place, it means his/her relationship with you is a valued one. Therefore, observe due protocols before going ahead with your demand.
State the Deal
Be clear about the transaction made. The items, amount agreed upon, discount if any, the due dates of the invoice. Ensure every detail of the business transaction is clearly stated. The necessary documents should be attached to the email. This aspect should be straight to the point and concise.
Politely remind the client the commitment he/she made towards the payment of the invoice. Pull up the terms of agreement the client signed if the transaction required that. If this is not the first reminder, state the times reminders have been sent regarding the payment. If the client had made promises to pay after a reminder, bring his/her attention to this. This aspect is vital. This is where you let the client understand that he/she should display integrity. They should live up to their commitment and defend their pride. Persuasion is the key here. Remember, you do not yet want to use threats for a client you found worthy enough to give credit lines.
Let the client know that you still believe in his/her ability to keep to their end of the bargain. Show confidence and respect. Though you are not sure of their true disposition to the situation, it is safe to let them know that you believe they have the intention of keeping to their promise and live up to their commitment.
If this is the ‘10th’ Reminder!
‘10th’ here implies that you have sent so many reminders, after the due date, and the client may have promised but failed to meet up to his/her obligations. If this applies, ensure you subtly inform the client of the option you have of contacting an agency to follow due process to recover your money, or the possible involvement of a legal process. This is very important, it helps the client to know that there are other ways you can use to ensure payment, but you prefer a less confrontational approach.
The entire email should be well structured, professional and concise. Get all your facts right before sending the email. Be polite. Make sure you are well understood as well. It is important you do not resort to confrontational means of securing payment until you have sent many reminders (enough to justify any forceful action). Before embarking on any forceful means of securing payment, it is necessary to send one last email to notify the client about this – this is another type of email!
The effort you put in sending this type of email can pay off, and help prevent ruining relationships with your clients; especially those loyal clients who have genuine challenges. Adequate room should be given to ensure you do not make hasty conclusions, especially those based on assumptions. If indeed you value your clients, your email should reflect it.
Sample Email: How to Request for the Payment of an Overdue Invoice via Email
How are you today?
We supplied 100 bags of rice to your restaurants on 21 June 2016. The agreed price was 5000 USD, this was after a 5% discount. An invoice reflecting these was duly issued to you; I have attached a scanned copy to this email.
You gave your word to pay in full within 30 days. However, 154 days have passed without you keeping to your commitment. We have sent you numerous reminders regarding this long overdue invoice before now. Though you pledged to make payments, we have not received any so far.
We at Onyx Farms hold you and your company in high esteem and do wish to continue the good relationship we have built over the years, as well as maintain the credit lines you have with us. We know you as one who keeps to agreements. This was one of the main reasons we agreed to supply your restaurants using our credit facility.
We believe you are doing all you can to ensure things are done properly, despite the minor setback your company had two months ago.
We do not think it is necessary to resort to contacting any agency to help recover the much needed funds. We also believe that you do not want it to get to that point because of the high reputation you have with us and with your numerous clients.