Getting tough on late payers
I’m not a big fan of New Year Resolutions – not least because I’m so poor at sticking to them – but I am making myself one work-related promise this year. It is to be much tougher on clients who pay their bills late.
Having had a few quiet moments in my study over the Christmas period (alright, I admit it, I was fleeing bad-tempered children), I’ve got round to long put-off chores such as trawling through my accounts. And there I’ve discovered a number of invoices from several months ago that customers have yet to pay.
Now, none of them are for huge sums, but I’m nonetheless cross with myself for doing nothing about chasing money that I’m owed. I’m also now feeling a little nervous that I won’t get paid in full – I’ve just come across a joint press release from the Federation of Master Builders and the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors which calls on the Government to ban late payers from public sector work. Hundreds of firms are going under each month because late payments are so endemic, the trade bodies argue.
What’s most annoying is that I have only myself to blame for leaving myself vulnerable in this way. While too many organisations do not pay their bills on time almost automatically, in many cases it’s creditors who kick up a fuss who get paid first. I suspect that many of my unpaid invoices would have been settled in full by now if I’d done something about it.
That doesn’t mean I should have sent in the bailiffs. A good credit control system is simply about being organised – setting strict payment terms when invoices are first despatched and chasing up clients as soon as those terms look likely to be breached. There may be instances when one has to be more aggressive, but often, just picking up the phone will pay dividends.
So that’s my resolution for 2013. I’m going to get on top of my late payments problem before it gets on top of me. I urge you to do the same – after all, we’ve done the work and we deserve to be paid for it.