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Dealing with late payments to improve your cashflow

Written by Estimator360

On June 21, 2023

Late Payment Solutions for Construction Companies

As a construction company, getting paid on time is crucial to the success of your business. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for clients to fall behind on their payments, which can create financial strain and disrupt your workflow. If you are dealing with a client who is behind on their invoice, here are some steps you can take:
wooden blocks spelling out the word "overdue"

1. Communicate with your client

The first step is to reach out to your client and politely remind them about the unpaid invoice. It is possible that they simply forgot to pay, or that there was a misunderstanding about the payment due date.

Friendly client email template:

Copy and Paste! The following email is friendly and professional, and it reminds the client of the outstanding invoice and the payment due date. It also leaves the door open for communication and offers to work together to find a solution if there is a reason for the delay in payment.

Dear [Client],

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to reach out and politely remind you about an outstanding invoice for the [project/service] we completed on [date]. The invoice, which was sent on [date], is for a total of [amount] and is due [date].

If you have already made the payment, please disregard this email. However, if you have not yet paid, I wanted to make sure that the payment has not been overlooked. If there is a reason for the delay in payment, please do let me know and we can work together to come up with a solution.

To review the payment terms, please refer to our contract, which can be found at the following link: [Insert link to contract or other document outlining payment terms].

I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and I would be grateful if you could process the payment as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

2. Understand the reason for the delay

Try to understand the reason for the delay in payment. Is there a specific reason why your client is unable to pay on time? Are they experiencing financial difficulties? Understanding the reason for the delay can help you come up with a solution that works for both parties. Sometimes a simple late fee will be enough to motivate a client to pay their overdue invoice but it may not always be that easy.

3. Offer electronic payments to reduce overdue payments

online invoice payment on a laptop, happy client
Non paying clients may be more willing to pay their outstanding balance when given the option to pay electronically. Removing the friction in your payment process may be all it takes to decrease the number of your unpaid invoices on your construction projects. You may find that you have more timely payments across the board with this simple solution.

Quickbooks (Integrates with Estimator360)

Quickbooks is a great way to receive timely payment from your customers and keep track of your business accounts and other expenses. 

Stripe

Stripe can integrate with your website and some existing systems 

 

4. Offer a payment plan or adjust the terms of the invoice

If your client is experiencing financial difficulties, they may be more likely to pay if you are willing to work with them on a payment plan or adjust the terms of the invoice.

Installment plan:

If you are not in a hurry to collect the full amount due, consider collecting payment in stages. This option allows your client to pay the total amount due in smaller installments over a set period of time. For example, you might agree to receive a certain percentage of the total amount due upfront, with the remaining balance paid in equal installments over the next few months. Be sure to set up a reasonable minimum payment.

Credit card or automatic payments:

Some clients may be more comfortable paying by credit card or setting up automatic payments from their bank account. This option allows them to pay in smaller increments over time, rather than paying the full amount all at once.

Financing with minimum payment: 

If your client is unable to pay the full amount upfront, they may be able to secure financing through a bank or other lender. Credit score and payment history may be a factor in your client obtaining financing. This option allows them to pay the total amount due in smaller installments over a longer period of time, typically with interest.

5. Consider legal action

Past due invoices and final notices being crumpled by a hand
If the issue cannot be resolved and your client continues to delay payment, taking legal action may be necessary to protect your business. This could include hiring a collections agency or taking your client to small claims court. Having a strong contract with your client is highly reccommended for cases that get this far. Ensure that your contracts are accurate and protect you in cases of non-payment.

If you need to send an invoice to collections or take legal action to recover payment, here are some steps you can take:

Communicate with your client:

Before taking any legal action, it is important to make sure that you have made a good faith effort to communicate with your client and try to find a resolution. This may include sending multiple payment reminders, offering a payment plan, or adjusting the terms of the invoice.

Gather documentation: 

If you decide to take legal action, you will need to have documentation to support your case. This may include copies of the invoice, any communication with your client regarding payment, and any contracts or agreements that outline the terms of the payment.

Consider hiring a collections agency: 

A collections agency can help you recover the payment that is owed to you. They will typically handle communication with the client and may be able to negotiate a payment plan or settlement on your behalf.

File a lawsuit: 

If all other efforts to recover the payment have been unsuccessful, you may need to consider filing a lawsuit. This could be a small claims court lawsuit if the amount owed is relatively small, or a civil lawsuit if the amount is larger. It is important to consult with a lawyer before taking this step, as lawsuits can be complex and time-consuming.

It is important to handle late payments professionally and to be open to finding a solution that works for both parties. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your business stays on track and continues to thrive.
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