Sending invoices? Then help your clients pay you on time

Sending invoices to your clients is an important part of running a business - and it's equally important to ensure they can pay you easily and on time.

In this guide, our Chief Accountant Emily makes five suggestions for how you can help your clients pay you on time and reduce the likelihood of having to chase outstanding invoices.

1. Invoice promptly

If you don't invoice your customers, they can't pay you!

Make it part of your hour a week routine to send invoices to your customers, so that you never get behind with your invoicing.

Send your invoices by email rather than printing and posting them. It's quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

2. Explain your payment terms clearly

Either before your customers come to you, or when they first come on board, make sure they know when you will expect them to pay.

Remember that it is for you to set your payment terms - not your customers! If your customers will not pay you on time, for example if their finance department still only processes invoices once a month and your payment terms are 14 days from invoice date, you do have a choice not to supply them.

Consider asking for either full or part payment before you send out goods or deliver services. Think about websites such as Amazon which require you to pay before the goods are sent. Should you do the same? If you are taking payment in advance, should you also offer a money back guarantee in case your customers are not happy?

3. Include payment details

Put your bank account information on your invoices if you are taking payment from online banking or by BACS. This will help your customers pay you quickly because they will not have to look up payment information.

4. Use the best payment method for your customers

This will vary from business to business. Consider taking payment using an online system such as Tyl by NatWest or PayPal for card payments, or GoCardless for Direct Debits. If you do a lot of face-to-face business, think about using a mobile payment solution such as Zettle by PayPal. Which method is easiest for you and for your customers?

5. Most importantly - deliver customer delight!

Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish told their partners at a recent event: "We have to delight the customer!"

If you make it a core part of your business offering to make your customers happy and create regular "wee wows", then they will be only too pleased to pay you. Think back to the last time you received amazing customer service. How did you feel when the time came to pay? Try to recreate that in your business.

Make sure your customers know what to pay, when and how, and are happy to pay you!