Sage Advice UK

Top tips on how to ask for payment: An expert’s view

Wondering how best to approach that late paying client? Mike Guttridge, business psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society gives his best tips on getting paid.

State clearly what you want to happen

Make sure the client understands your point of view. Explain that you invoiced 30 days ago, the amount is now overdue and you expect to get paid by the end of the week.

Be nice, stay calm but don’t be a walkover

Certain clients will push you to the back of the queue if they think you’ll put up with it. It’s about being clear on your goal.

Keep reiterating the facts

Tell them when you invoiced them and your payment terms. And always get your facts right. If you sketch over the details – or worse, get them wrong – you’ll lose credibility and it’s easier for the client to ignore you.

Make personal contact with the person who employed you

It’s much harder to brush off somebody you’ve worked with or built a relationship with in the past. Ask if they can pull strings with the finance department or have a word with the boss.

Be persistent

Make regular phone calls. Suggest a meeting. Get in touch, often.

If you have to deal with the accounts department, be personable

Find out the person’s name and try to understand their point of view. Do they only pay on certain days? Is the company struggling? Treat everyone with respect, including the most junior assistant – it pays off.

Always use red ink on your reminder invoices

Red is known to command attention.

Get a special rubber stamp with your company name on it

Resend your invoice with “overdue” stamped right across the page, preferably in bright red. Be bold!