After over 25 years of experience in the credit control industry we are pretty well placed to pass comment on some of the causal factors affecting non-payment of invoices and have a firm opinion (surprise!) on the single biggest reason why commercial invoices are not paid when they should be.
One of the main advantages of having prolonged experience in any industry is that it enables you to build a picture based on patterns and trends that recur in that particular industry. Just to give you a rough idea of how that may be built up – we can say that most credit control queries take a couple of minutes on the phone to resolve and to make a quick note on the ledger re date of payment. It is relatively easy to make 30 calls a day and in a standard working month that would generate 600 data points, 7200 per year etc – You get the picture right!
Based on our experience we can surely say that the single biggest reason that commercial invoices do not get paid on time is that they are not billed correctly!! Shock!! When chasing invoices for payment the response that is totally and utterly top of the list is “we haven’t got a copy of the invoice”.
That doesn’t sound too difficult to fix does it? – well yes and no!
Sometimes the customer has genuinely mis-placed the invoice and sending a simple copy over can rectify the problem. Sometimes customers can say they haven’t received the invoice in order to prolong the payment – yes some actually do that which is why we find it important to invoice check before the due date. It can also be the case that the invoice has been sent to the wrong email address as there can be more than one on file. It’s worth taking the time to check and make sure it’s accurately recorded on your system.
The one that trips people up the most though is the Purchase Order number. If your customer operates a PO system is’s vital that you check the number is for your customer and it is included on all documentation and invoices you generate for that order. Often the person who makes the order is not the person who deals with the billing and using the correct PO is the only way of ensuring you get paid.
The problems mentioned aren’t limited to any specific industry or size of business but they can untimately affect collection rates. If collection rates are affected then cash flow will also be affected and if there’s no cash then you don’t actually have a business – it’s that serious!!
So, three simple steps to ensure you get paid on time.
1. Invoice check before due date.
2. Make sure you have the correct billing email address.
3. Make sure you have the correct PO number.