Running a business is challenging enough, and having to deal with bad debts can add an unneeded layer of stress for you and your team. The easiest way to handle bad debts is to avoid them in the first place – here’s how.
Do a background check:
Before you enter into an agreement with a client or other businesses, make sure that you know who you’re dealing with and do some research. Make sure they are legitimate, still in operation and look for any bad reviews and feedback concerning other people’s experiences with them. Take into consideration whether they ask you for discounts or complain that your fees are too high. If you get the idea that the client may not pay, it might be safer to avoid the job instead.
Have clear payment terms:
Include payment terms in your client agreement or contract that clearly state payment dates penalties for late payments. Both parties should agree on these payment terms prior to entering into a contract. Conditions for late payments could include interest fees, fines, or the cessation of supplying your goods and services to them within a specified time period.
Ask for a deposit:
When you ask for a deposit and the client does not want to pay, it shows that they are probably not trustworthy and may not be willing to make a full payment. If the client does pay you a deposit or but does not make a final payment, then at the very least you will not have lost as much money as you would have without an initial payment.
Setting up an automatic payment system for your clients eliminates the chances of them forgetting to pay or refusing to pay unless they actively cancel their payments. Automatic payments can work well if you have instalment fees or a subscription-based service that requires periodic payments.
Follow up quickly:
Making contact with clients soon after a missed payment will demonstrate your expectations to be paid in a timely manner. Often, this means that clients managing cash flow problems are more likely to prioritise payments to your business rather than their other creditors who have more relaxed payment systems.