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The Do's and Don'ts of Invoice Follow-Ups

Published: at 03:38 AM

Invoicing is a critical aspect of running a small business, ensuring you’re compensated for your services or products. However, tracking and following up on unpaid invoices can be a delicate task. It’s essential to approach this situation carefully to maintain healthy client relationships while ensuring your business’s cash flow isn’t disrupted. Here are the do’s and don’ts of invoice follow-ups, equipped with strategies to encourage prompt payments without straining client relations.


1. Do Set Clear Payment Terms from the Start

Ensure your invoices include clear payment terms, such as the due date and acceptable payment methods. Transparency from the get-go sets the expectation for when payment should be made and helps avoid misunderstandings that can lead to late payments.

2. Do Send Gentle Reminders

Life gets busy, and sometimes invoices can be overlooked. Sending a polite reminder a few days before the invoice is due can help keep your payment on your client’s radar. If the invoice goes past due, a kindly worded follow-up is appropriate. Tools like ProBooks can automate these reminders, saving you time and ensuring consistency in communication.

3. Do Offer Multiple Payment Options

Making it as easy as possible for your clients to pay you is a key strategy in avoiding late payments. Offer various payment methods and clearly state these options on every invoice. This flexibility can significantly reduce delays caused by payment logistics.

4. Do Keep Communication Professional and Friendly

Your tone in follow-up communications should always remain professional and courteous. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, remember that a positive relationship with your client is invaluable. A respectful approach can often facilitate quicker payment and sustain a beneficial business relationship.

5. Do Keep Detailed Records

Maintaining meticulous records of invoices and all communications regarding payments is crucial. This documentation can help address any disputes and serves as a reference for follow-up communications. Additionally, it can inform future business decisions regarding credit terms for particular clients.


1. Don’t Wait Too Long to Follow Up

Procrastination can send the message that late payments are acceptable. Prompt follow-ups, on the other hand, stress the importance of adhering to agreed payment terms and can help keep your cash flow steady.

2. Don’t Be Confrontational

While it’s important to be firm, approaching the situation with hostility can damage your relationship with your client. Keep your follow-ups polite and professional, focusing on resolving the matter amicably.

3. Don’t Overlook the Power of a Phone Call

In an era dominated by digital communication, a personal follow-up call can make a big difference. It’s harder to ignore a phone call than an email, and a friendly conversation can often expedite payment. Of course, follow this with a written summary of the call for records.

4. Don’t Forget to Send a Thank You Note

Once payment is received, acknowledge your client’s promptness (even if it was late) and thank them for their business. This small gesture reinforces a positive relationship and sets a good precedent for future transactions.

5. Don’t Hesitate to Seek Assistance

If repeated follow-ups don’t result in payment, it may be time to consider other actions, such as involving a collection agency or taking legal steps. Before escalating the situation, seek advice from a legal professional or a small business advisor to understand the best course of action.

Invoicing and tracking payments are integral parts of managing a small business. By following these dos and don’ts, you can improve your invoice follow-up process, ensuring prompt payments without compromising client relationships. Remember, the goal is to maintain a positive, professional rapport with your clients while taking firm steps to secure your business’s financial health.