Debtors and late-payers-the bane of every business owner.
No matter how profitable your business is, it won’t survive without good cash flow. If you can’t pay your bills on time, you may end up trading while insolvent. And that’s not just bad business-that’s illegal.
But to do that, you need your clients to pay their bills on time. And that’s something you can’t always rely on. Sometimes they forget. Sometimes they don’t have the money. And sometimes they just decide they don’t want to.
Unfortunately, you don’t get out of paying your bills simply because they haven’t paid theirs. So you have no choice but to:
- find out which clients are behind with their payments
- contact those clients and ask them to send through their payment.
Depending on how many clients you need to contact, that could take a while. And that’s assuming they pay up the first time you ask. What if you have to remind them several times? It can add up to a lot of time-time you’d be far better off spending on your business.
Fortunately, you can now use software to automate the entire process. Once you link it to your accounting system it will automatically search for any late-paying customers and send them a personalised reminder about their overdue payment.
Here are some of the apps currently available.
Chaser sends your debtors reminder emails that look like personal emails from you. Merge fields in your email templates bring in information such as the customer name, invoice number and amount.
You can create differently worded templates for use with different customers so that the wording is appropriate for each relationship. You could choose to have formal wording with some customers, and more informal wording for those customers you have a closer relationship with.
You can select which days of the week to send out your debtor reminder emails and if a customer has more than one outstanding invoice, the system is smart enough to include mention of each invoice in the one email, rather than send one email per invoice.
Another time-saving feature is that Chaser will attach a PDF copy of the invoice(s) to the reminder email. That saves you time and speeds up payments because your customers don’t have to go searching for invoices.
Chaser also makes it easy to see the ‘chasing conversation’-the history of payment reminder emails-without you having to search through your inbox to work out what happened with a particular invoice. All invoice and payment-related information is displayed on the one screen.
Chaser works with Xero accounting software.
Debtor Daddy lets you set up a series of reminder emails to automatically send to customers both before and after the due date.
You can base your reminders on a number of different (debt) “collector” personas (“Audrey adds humour to her reminders”, “Harry is no frills, no nonsense, straight up and down”, etc.), and then tailor the wording of the emails used by each collector. You can then assign different collectors to different customers which not only customises the wording of the emails, but also the number and timing of reminder emails.
Debtor Daddy makes it easy to filter your outstanding invoices on how overdue they are, and from the Hit List view you can action further communication, change Collectors, see what reminders have gone out and what’s due to go out tomorrow, this week and so on.
Debtor Daddy works with Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks.
If you’d like to send emails and SMS reminders to late-paying customers, then check out ezyCollect. It also lets you set up postal and telephone reminders, send a pre-approved legal letter and escalate the debt to a collection agency. You can even perform credit checks.
It includes a schedule (and adds the phone calls you need to make to customers), graphs and reports to see how much debt you’ve managed to recover.
ezyCollect works with Xero and MYOB.
Late Fee Manager
If your Terms and Conditions include fees or interest charges for late payment, Late Fee Manager might be just what you need. As well as sending reminders to late-paying customers, it will calculate and automatically apply to the original invoice any late fees or interest charges.
Late Fee Manager works with Xero and QuickBooks.
This is by no means a complete list of what’s available. There are plenty of others, including Web Ninja Collect, InvoiceSherpa, xocashflow and Debtze. And they all offer a free trial, so you can try them all and decide which one will work best for your business.
To save you time in this process, we can advise you on which debtor management app is likely to be the best fit for your business based on the accounting app you are already using, or are considering switching to. Get in touch with us and we’ll make a time to sit down with you to run through your best options in this area.
You can’t afford to have late-paying customers putting your business’ cash flow at risk. And now, thanks to these software packages, you won’t need to.