It’s disappointing, to say the least, when a client fails to pay you what they owe, but it happens to everyone eventually, and it’s important to be prepared in terms of how you react.
Stay calm – you might be angry, but you mustn’t let that cloud your judgment.
Stay professional – you’re a creditor, but you’re (usually) not a debt recovery company and you’re almost certainly not a court, so don’t be tempted to send letters disguised as communications from either of those organisations.
Stay determined – it might take a few firm reminders to make your debtor sit up and listen, and you’re not allowed to harass them, but determination, persistence and a reasonable amount of ongoing communication is key.
In terms of the letter you send, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be Formal
Late payment and non-payment are no jokes, so even if the client is a long-term customer, be formal in your reminder letters – the change in tone of voice alone might be enough to open their eyes to the severity of the situation.
It’s not just tone of voice though, it’s also the content of your letter itself, so set out what is owed, when the deadline was, any terms and conditions that were agreed to before the work was carried out, and what sanctions will be taken if payment is not made immediately.
- Set a Deadline
It’s hard to ignore an ultimatum, so don’t just say “I will consider further action” – say “I will take further action on this date” and set a clear deadline for full and final payment.
You need to be prepared to stick to this by referring to a debt collector or making a money claim through the relevant online and real-world court services, but if the debt is worth chasing, then it’s worth taking full action to recover it.
- Write to the MD
Finally, if you’re getting no response from the accounts department, go over their heads, as far up the chain of command as you can reach; it’s usually possible to search online and find out the directors and chief executives of UK-registered companies.
Remember, you should not use social networks as a medium to pursue unpaid debts, so make sure it’s a real letter, on paper, sent to a senior executive at the company’s registered office – when that lands on their desk on Monday morning, they should be jolted into the new working week whether they’ve had their morning coffee yet or not.
If you would like help in writing this letter or would like to talk to a member of our team about debt recovery, please call 0808 252 5156.