5 Ways to Confront Customers About Late Payments and Maintain a Good Relationship

Small business owners often dread pestering their customers about late or overdue payments — but making sure every customer turns in payments on time is the only way for many entrepreneurs and business owners to stay afloat in volatile economic times. Consider these five tips from VA Gladiator when preparing to confront clients who pay late without damaging your long-term relationship with this person.


  1. Talk to the Client About Your Work

Are you concerned that the client who hasn’t paid you is unhappy with the job you did for them — and perhaps sending a passive-aggressive message by refusing to send payment on time? Reach out to this person instead of invoicing them a second (or third) time and determine whether the two of you clearly communicated about the job. Be prepared to fix things if the mistake was yours.


  1. Factor In Reasons Why the Client May Be Missing Payments

There are a few great ways to salvage relationships with clients you like that are forgetful about payments. If you know before contacting your late-paying client that this person you like is elderly, disabled, or the busy parent of four young children, you may be tempted to go easy on them and not demand payment. While you don’t have to threaten to take your client to small claims court, it may be helpful to maintain a relationship of empathy and ask whether there’s anything you could do to help — while still getting paid. Consider establishing a payment plan with this client.


  1. Consider Providing Incentives for Early Payments

You may offer a flat-fee rate for those who pay early or give a discount of 2% on your services if the client pays before a certain deadline. This bonus may prevent late payments and it helps the client remember to pay you because there is something in it for them when they do.


  1. Send Your Invoices Through Mail and Email

Provide your clients with virtual invoices as well as paper ones so that they do not forget to pay you for your services. If you feel that clients typically ignore their invoices until the last minute, consider utilizing payment processing software to invoice and collect payments from these forgetful clients. Zenbusiness.com recommends using a program that provides you the option of using cards, checking accounts, PayPal, and various online forms of delivery to send you the funds you deserve. Enlist a virtual assistant to monitor this process and ensure that your clients’ payments were secured on time.


  1. Think About Using Contracts

If dealing with late-paying clients is a task you wake up to every day, consider using contracts to clarify when the payment for your services is due. Entrepreneurs and small business owners who use sales agreements and other types of purchase contracts often include payment plan information in their contracts, but someone who sells goods or services online may not. Include late fees if they cannot pay on time or use an increasing 10, 30, and 60-day rate to give them the incentive to pay earlier.


Speaking to customers and clients may feel as though you are making new friends every day —or it may feel as though you are constantly walking on eggshells. You may have multiple clients that place you in both scenarios. Do your best to respond with empathy and keep your cool when speaking to difficult people.


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