Monthly Archives: September 2012

Chasing Overdue Invoices

Did you know that small firms spend up to 130 hours each year chasing overdue invoices? That’s two working weeks.

Over and over again in the last few years, I’ve been hearing how frustrated my clients are with customers who are very slow to pay or who don’t pay at all.

Overdue invoices have a huge impact on the wellbeing of a small business and it can really sour our relationships with our clients. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m going to give you some top tips to help you persuade your clients to pay – the stress free way.

1.        Don’t be Afraid to Ask

It’s your money. If you’ve done the job right, you’re entitled to be paid!  There’s no stigma attached to chasing small monies, and getting tough is no longer seen as petty or weak. If anything, it shows your clients that you’re efficient and worth paying for.

2.       Put a Process in Place

Even if you’re a one-person company, you must create clearly defined processes for dealing with late payments. Chasing money is time-consuming, but these processes will keep you sane – and profitable.

3.       Contact the Client Immediately

Contact the client directly on the day payment becomes overdue. Try not to use email — a telephone call or face-to-face meeting is far more effective. During your conversation, check that they’re satisfied with your work. Establish whether they have a problem paying and agree a payment schedule. Often, the client may simply have been away or has forgotten and will pay you immediately.

4.       Nudge the Client Harder

If you’re still not being paid, contact the person directly responsible for paying invoices. If payment is considerably delayed, write a formal letter stating a date when late fees and interest will start to accrue. Most countries have statutory interest rates for overdue payments. In Ireland it’s 7% per annum, 8% in the UK and US states vary between 6% and 10% per annum.

5.       Accept the Inevitable

If negotiations break down, write a letter stating that the client is in breach of contract (verbal agreements are still legally-binding in most countries) and you have no choice but to withdraw your services. Don’t make empty threats; be prepared to start legal proceedings.

6.        Never complain

Don’t discuss a non-paying client to others — especially on social networks. It’s not professional and is unlikely to result in a positive outcome. Never use aggressive language or start making threats. You may laugh, but last year, I spoke to someone who threatened to break a client’s legs!

If you can’t chase clients yourself, there’s always an alternative – outsourcing.

Please feel free to contact me at: info@virtualoffices.ie, to see how we can help you with your credit management. We’ll let your clients know that you mean business.

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The Perfect Answer

One of the main compliments that I always get from my customers and business colleagues is that both my staff and I have a very professional telephone answering voice and always sound very professional and also friendly when answering our calls.  I have always found it to be very important when dealing with our client, or clients of clients as it’s a crucial element to winning customers and building business relationships.

Even with all of the new ways to communicate these days, the telephone is still a primary means of communication in business and the way that you answer a call will form your customer’s first impression of both you and your business.

Here are a few of my top telephone answering tips to ensure that you’re presenting yourself—and your business–in a professional manner, all the time!

  1. Always answer a call promptly
  2. Answer the phone in a professional and pleasant manner, and with a smile. Be enthusiastic. People can feel it or hear it on the other end.
  3. When answering an office phone, welcome callers by introducing yourself and your organization. For instance, ““Good Morning/Afternoon, The Virtual Office, Samantha speaking.” If you’re answering a personal mobile phone, a simple, “Good morning, xxx speaking,” is appropriate.
  4. Speak slowly and clearly when answering the phone so that the caller can understand you. Keep your voice at a moderate level. No one likes to be yelled at.
  5. If you’re answering a phone with multiple lines, be sure to ask the caller if it’s all right for you to place him/her on hold BEFORE you do so. Provide callers who are on hold with an update every 30 to 45 seconds and offer them choices if possible. “That line is busy, would you like to continue to hold or would you like to leave a message for Mr. Smith?”
  6. If you are taking the call from your office never use speakerphone to answer an incoming call. This will give the caller the immediate impression that you’re not fully engaged with them.
  7. If you use an answering machine to catch those calls you can’t get to, make certain that you record a professional message that includes an introduction (just as if you were answering the phone). This will ensure that the caller knows he has reached the right person and avoid any confusion.

Good telephone manners go a long way. Following these few tips will ensure that you leave a positive impression with business contacts (so that they call back!).

If you feel that you would like to have your very own professional telephone answering service to represent your business then why not contact us today on 051 351286 or email us: info@virtualoffices.ie

Why not speak to us about our new 1 week free trial on our telephone answering service!