4 Steps to Getting Invoices Paid on Time
Let’s start by looking at this from the other side, from your customers viewpoint. Your customer will need to match your invoices to purchase orders, input the data to whatever system is employed ready for payment and raise any queries.
As a supplier (of products or services) you need to make your customer's job as easy as possible! Why? because if your invoices are difficult to process your customer will leave them until last. If you don’t quote a valid order number, or the price doesn’t match the order value he put your invoice in a query pile... and no don’t expect him to contact you regarding the query. Sooner or later he knows you are going to call him chasing payment. At that point he will let you know why your invoice is in query, that’s if he can still find it and if he can’t be bothered to look he is going to ask you for a copy and the whole process starts from the beginning again but now your invoice is already over due.
So how can you prevent this problem from happening?
Your credit control process needs to start at the point the invoice is raised:
1. Ensure your invoicing has the following information correctly detailed:
Your Business name and address and if applicable Vat Reg and Company number
An invoice number and date
Customer Reference number (important – their internal reference not your reference number for the customer. Ideally their order number)
Reference Name – print the name of your contact on your invoice. If the clerk has a query they will at least know where to go internally to raise it.
Unit price and total that match customer order – if they don’t get a revised order
Payment terms – these will be ignored but need to be on the invoice
Payment methods accepted (bank details for BACS payments etc...)
2. When you send the invoice in either by post or by email ask for confirmation of receipt. This does a couple of things; it makes someone accept responsibility for your invoice and gives you an internal contact to follow up with. If I had said to a supplier that I had their invoice I now have to process it or raise any queries because I can no longer use the “please send a copy as I don’t seem to have it” line.
3. Half way through your payment term (eg 15 days of a 30 day payment term) contact the person that confirmed receipt and check that the invoice has been processed for payment and request a likely payment date. Don’t expect an exact date all you really want to know is that there is a payment run scheduled in the next two weeks and your invoice is cleared for payment. Once you have this confirmed you now know your invoice has been passed and you have a date after which you can immediately call and chase payment if it is not forthcoming.
4. Call or email one final time a few days before the invoice becomes due to confirm your invoice is included on the next payment run and at this point get a payment date.