This article will help you understand your options for communicating with your business clients and effectively collect the debts that are owed to your business.
If you are a business owner, you probably feel the pain of collection debt from some of your business clients. One of the areas that is often not planned for when building a business, is the whole area of collecting owed debt. Since most business pay for services received, it’s a natural tendency to think this will not be a big problem. Unfortunately it’s often a cause of significant income loss, and unexpected loss of man hours in the collection process. Proper professional and courteous communication can often solve these problems while they are small. Once the problem becomes larger, and the time since the debt was originally owed increases, the options to collect become more expensive and complex.
Types of Late Paying Customers and Clients
In general, B2B debt collection has to do with collecting money owed from customers and clients who fall into several categories:
- Deadbeat customers and clients that will go to any length to avoid paying.
- Clients that tend to have an influx of payments due at the same time, and decide to delay paying some, while paying others.
- Business owners who are suffering some sort of financial crises that creates a cash flow problem. They may want to pay, but just don’t have the money when the bill comes due.
As a business owner, it’s easier to deal with the clients that fall into the last two categories above. Often a few phone calls, and possible arrangements for a modified re-payment plan can make all the difference. These clients often want to pay something, but are afraid to call and ask for a temporary arrangement. Consider opening this door, since most of these clients have a history of making good payments with you, and potentially are long term customers going forward. The first category is more challenging, and requires a specific plan with escalation options. It’s critical to act quickly and be both consistent and persistent in your efforts to collect the debt. Below are some recommended guidelines to consider.
- Avoid harassing the people that owe you money. This is both a good customer service policy as well as a good legal policy. If your actions can be considered harassing, you may wind up losing a customer as well as facing a legal challenge. If you call your debtors, be sure not to leave more than one message per day, and never threaten or speak ill of a debtor.
- Keep phone calls short. To keep phone calls short, be sure that you are on message, short and formal. Try to be sure that the person on the other end of the line does not take the phone call personally. Do not imply that failing to make a payment is the same as a personal failure. Be sure to stay calm during the conversation, but always be clear that there is a debt that needs to be paid.
- Write letters. The letters that you write to your customers and clients that owe money are called demand letters. You should be sure to send these in addition to making phone calls. Save copies of each letter you send. They may be useful if you have to go to a collections agency.
- Get a collection agency to write demand letters. Collection agencies are professionals when it comes to getting money that is past due. Therefore, it is no wonder that they write great demand letters as well. Many collections agencies offer this letter writing service at a fixed cost. You will normally get a series of letters to mail, each one escalating in intensity.
- Offer to settle for less than is due. If you think that a debtor would be willing to do so, you may want to offer to settle for less than is due to your small business. This is an often used strategy on clients and customers that have no real hope of paying off the debt they owe. This settlement should be made official in a legal document that shows a payment of less than is due that satisfies the entire debt.
- Hire a debt collection lawyer. Here at, Howe & Associates, we specialize in business to business debt collection in Georgia. Our team of experienced debt collection attorneys know the state law, and have a long proven track record of getting results for our business clients.