Business as usual until…

You own a business and your customers pay you mostly within the payment terms, but sometimes they don’t and there are slightly overdue invoices. But so long as they do pay and it’s within reasonable time, your business relationship with them goes along smoothly.

Then a late paying customer case is brought to your attention. They are seriously overdue owing your business several thousand pounds. Your back office staff have done everything they can and need to, with regard to following your credit control procedures. They have made phone calls, sent multiple emails and reminder letters asking the debtor for the payment. And nothing.

Your personal involvement

You decide to give this particular customer a call yourself. The person on their side that you think you’ll resolve this quickly with is always busy, between meetings or just not in the office when you are calling. You leave a few messages and keep reminding yourself to take time out of your anyway busy day, just to ask your staff if the late paying customer called you back by any chance. He did not, and you put another call in. It’s getting frustrating now. You fire off an email or two and eventually you strike lucky and get them on the phone. They apologise and explain their reasons for never calling you back or getting in touch, to just ask for more time to pay (it’s quite obvious they have been blatantly avoiding you). They promise you that the late payment for the overdue invoice is on its way and will reach you by the end of the current month.

Chances are by now you’ve waited so long and put enough of your own effort into this debt collection that you’d like them to just pay and give yourself a pat on the back for your efforts. You agree to give them that extra time and wait more.

It’s time to pay

The following month when you remember and check with your staff if that payment came in, you are taken aback when they tell you that nothing had been paid and there had been no contact from the customer whatsoever since your last conversation with them. You now feel that this is your responsibility to get the overdue amount paid and begin the calling and emailing process all over again until you make contact. You’ve now spent quite a considerable amount of your own time on this matter. When you get to speak with the late paying customer once more, the conversation doesn’t go as smoothly as you’d want and you feel the business relationship slipping away, by now the aim is only about getting your money.

If payment is achieved it tends to be via one of 3 scenarios:

  1. Agree a reduced settlement.
  2. Agrees to pay after argument, broken business relationship because of this B2B late payment.
  3. Agree payment plan, and you’re tied into continued monitoring and chasing to get them to stick to it.

Involving professionals

How this would have been different where your process includes escalating non responsive overdue debtors to a third party collection agency such as ours, and you not getting involved perso