While the supplier-business is trying to get its invoices paid as quickly as possible, the customer is trying to pay as late as possible – a state of tension that leaves many businesses worrying how to make sure invoices are paid promptly but at the same time retaining its customers by keeping them on side.
“It comes down to making sure that problems don’t arise,” said commercial law solicitor Amy Cusworth of Oxley & Coward Solicitors LLP. “This means clear, fair and reasonable terms of business and taking care to make sure that the customer knows them. The customer must also be clear about the price and if the charge or fee is based on time, the supplier must keep customers informed of time spent and reminded of what that means in terms of cash. It’s worth looking at interim billing as well, as it helps both the supplier’s cash flow and avoids a large debt building up for the customer.
For many businesses, getting bills paid on time is a mixture of carrot and stick, so it’s important that the terms of business contain sanctions for late payment by providing for reasonable compensation and interest on the debt.
Other top tips from Amy include:
•Invoices should be delivered promptly; an invoice delivered a month or more after the work is completed or the goods supplied can simply cause irritation
•The invoice should state when it is due for payment: the customer’s accounts department cannot be expected to be familiar with the supplier’s terms of business
•If the invoice is not paid on the due date, an efficient credit control system must kick in and must operate like clockwork. Credit control should not start with aggressive threats; too much aggression too early may undermine good relations with the customer and can be counter productive. Start with a gentle reminder before moving up through the gears
•If the invoice remains unpaid the creditor should not take any action without first running a credit control check on the debtor; there is no point in wasting time and money chasing someone who is insolvent
•If the debtor is solvent but is likely to defend the claim, the creditor should see a solicitor at this stage to discuss the options. These might include court action or mediation
•If the claim is simple and unlikely to be defended, a creditor might consider a do-it-yourself approach either in the traditional way through the small claims courts or online at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk
•Finally, when chasing another business or a public sector body for payment, the creditor has a statutory right to interest and compensation, even if their terms of business say nothing.
Under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, interest is payable on debts that are not paid within 30 days of the due date at 8% above the Bank of England base rate. In addition, compensation is payable on a scale from £40 for debts under £100 to £100 for debts of £10,000 or more.
“Credit control starts with clear, fair and reasonable terms of business that provide effective tools for enforcement,”
For a FREE initial chat about late payment problems in your business and Terms of Trade, call Amy Cusworth at Oxley and Coward Solicitors LLP, on 01709 510999.
Photograph and caption
Amy Cusworth, of Oxley & Coward Solicitors LLP
Media Contact: BeyondPR. Tel.: 0114 275 6996. Mob: 07930 697773. www.beyondpr.co.uk
Ref: OXCOW111 – Keep the cash flow flowing
# # #
PR agency BeyondPR is dynamic and different. Whether your campaign is B2B or B2C, traditional or e-media (or both), we have the talent and experience to deliver.