Last Updated on December 9, 2021
Working for yourself is excellent. It provides flexibility and the opportunity to do what you genuinely love. However, that’s not to say running your own business or working as a contractor is all roses.
There are times when it’s inconvenient to have to rely on several different clients to get paid, whereas being an employee makes your paycheck a sure thing. If you’re finding that your invoices aren’t getting paid in time, you’re not alone.
Below is an in-depth guide for new business owners like you who might be struggling to get some (or all) of your customers to pay their invoices when they’re due.
If you’re planning to address these clients about the situation at hand, but find that you may need some help with the actual wording of what to say, here are some email templates to help get you started.
The Challenge of the Late Payment (And Late Payment Reminder)
When it comes to getting paid through individual contracts, it’s up to you as the contractor to follow up on your payments and ensure everything is coming in on time. There’s no one else to do this for you unless you’ve hired someone as your bookkeeper or CFO.
While most clients will pay on time, some still have the best intentions and still have trouble paying on time. Then, there are the few rotten eggs that hope to get great work without paying you for it. Sometimes they even make the payment process so long and drawn out that the contractor will give up, and they’ll still end up getting services and products for free.
If you’re having trouble with a client paying on time repeatedly, it’s a red flag and a sign you should consider letting them go. Regardless of how good the work is, if you’re not getting paid for it, it’s wasted hours and energy that you could spend on something lucrative.
An excellent strategy to employ is a “three strikes, and you’re out” policy. However, even that can be a bit too lenient for clients who only aim to take advantage. It’s hard to know what to do when you’re just starting, but after you deal with a few troublesome clients, you’ll be able to tell right away when something’s not working out.
Polite Payment Due Date Email
If a due date is approaching and you want to get ahead of any problem in the first place, you may want to ping them with a polite email reminder that the due date is quickly coming.
It might look something like this:
Polite Email for an Invoice a Few Days Overdue
If the due date has come and gone and there’s still no payment to be accounted for, it’s time to send them another reminder while staying polite, professional, and objective.
You could send these emails as a follow-up on the previous email thread to help them connect the dots, or you may choose to send it separately with a different subject line to help differentiate the email in their inbox.
If you’re struggling to find the words to send, let this quick template be a guide for how to approach this second reminder email:
Straightforward and Professional Email for an Invoice Two Weeks Overdue
Once an invoice is two weeks late, there’s a good chance they have seen both of your previous emails and have chosen to ignore them or have not prioritized them as they should.
It’s time to take a more stern approach while still staying professional and grounded. However, the client needs to know that you are serious about collecting your payment and what consequences (both financial and legal) will occur if you don’t receive the compensation promptly.
Use this template:
Straightforward and Professional Email for an Invoice 30 Days Overdue
When an invoice is a month late, it’s time to add some consequences to their late payment to encourage an on-time payment next time (if there is a next time).
Use this template as a base and add details where needed:
It’s never fun when a customer doesn’t pay according to your payment terms, and you’re sent chasing after them and your money. Using these pre-made templates lets you take some frustration out of following up and hopefully get you your due payment faster.
Grey was previously the Director of Marketing for altLINE by The Southern Bank. With 10 years’ experience in digital marketing, content creation and small business operations, he helped businesses find the information they needed to make informed decisions about invoice factoring and A/R financing.