Share:
POST
TWEET
SHARE
SHARE
EMAIL

How to get your invoices paid faster

By Chris Dawson February 23, 2011 - 12:01 am

I was in a meeting today where Beth Deavila, HP UK Officejet Brand Manager was discussing printers. There was much talk of how businesses today need colour printing, what features could support small businesses and how modern high end inkjet printers are in some cases more economical to run than low end laser printers.

Whilst the printers available today are feature rich, Beth had one simple tip which all small businesses should be aware of regardless how old their printer may be:

When you print invoices highlight the due date and/or the amount outstanding in colour and your invoices will tend to get paid faster.

It’s such an obvious thing to do and yet it’s an idea I’d certainly never thought of. However I can promise the next person that gets an invoice from me will have the amount due highlighted in red.

  • 11 years ago

    Print them on yellow paper. They don’t get lost in the pile that way (and anyone who has had an HMRC yellow notice will know how much they stand out)

    • northumbrian
      11 years ago

      HMRC is what stands out to me , sirens sound and lights flash just glimpsing those letters

  • northumbrian
    11 years ago

    does anyone send paper invoices these days?
    we send invoices by email

    • 11 years ago

      Many years ago when I was still an Accountant in Industry not only did we use to send out and receive paper invoices but we used to decorate them. In my bottom drawer I had a box of sticky labels with such as a man on his knees with tears pouring from his eyes begging for payment. There were also rubber stamps with similar cartoons and sentiments. I never rerally knew if they did improve the rate at which invoices were paid but we used to try. I can remember one place I was Works Accountant and one of my responsibilities was Credit Control. I found by experience that each Company had one person who made things happen. It was sometimes the Accountant or it could be the Office Manager or on occassions the Production Manager but there was always somebody. So I had a card for each customer(we had a small number of large customers) and each time I phoned I would make notes on the card. If I found their Accountant was useless I would try the Office Manager next time and so on. Eventually I found the person who made it all work. Then I would keep details on the card. If he mentioned that it was his anniversary that night that went on the card and eventually I was phoning more as a friend who just happened to be collecting money than as a Credit Controller. I had the lowest days sales outstanding (the measure of effectiveness of Credit Control) in the Group(a very large group). But at the end of the day whatever means you use the object is the same to get the money in quickly. One possible fly in the ointment often such as Sales Managers did not like Accountants phoning their prize customers because they were afraid that we would scare them off. The real skill was to get the money out of them without upsetting them. Remember you want the money but you also want them to come back again as customers next week, next month and next year.

    • northumbrian
      11 years ago

      anyone who chases us for money gets insulted to the best of our ability

    • 11 years ago

      When I was chasing for money all those years ago it was a soul destroying job. But just occassionally something happened to brighten the day. I would imagine northumbrians no doubt “colourful” language would have been one such. Can I bring to mind another. Years ago in the Office I had a woman who was the proverbial pain in the butt. But she was good at her job but she caused more problems than she was worth. At about the same time one of our customers(a husband and wife business) the wife upped and left. The husband had done the work she had done the paperwork. The business continued to do the work but did not invoice for work done or chase for money. So within a few weeks they were in a mess. What they needed was a woman to take responsibility for the admin. By a bit of nifty footwork I managed to palm off my troublesome employee and she took over the admin. Within days she had sorted out the paperwork, started to send out invoices, collect in money and pay our bills and at the end of it we ended with a customer who was 100% loyal to us(and I had been instructed to put him on the stop-list-which I ignored). So you can have spectacular results by adopting slightly unconvenional procedures-I know I did. For months after that Office was a pleasant place to work.

  • northumbrian
    11 years ago

    no colour here, just plain black and white abuse ,

  • Henrietta
    11 years ago

    It is a great tip, a better one is “Neither a borrower or lender be” as the Bard said.

    If we don’t have the money to pay for something we wait to buy until we can. We own our stock, not our suppliers. Learned that lesson in the early 90’s and sleep a lot better because of it.

    We are not a bank, we are a retail business. You want credit go see a bank. No credit, no invoices, just packing slips and receipts.

    • northumbrian
      11 years ago

      if we borrowed nowt we would be in a cave sucking bones
      house is mortgaged to the hilt
      overdraft as high as we can get it
      sod leaving money to the kids debt is all we intend to leave tham

    • 11 years ago

      There is a lot to be said for owning all the businesses assets. After all as such as Property increases in value over the years that increase is an asset of the business and of course there’s no rent to pay but very few businesses can operate without some Credit. After all we all buy goods from Wholesalers or Manufacturers and the terms are 30 days Net or similar. The skill is keeping it all in balance. Too much debt and credit and the business is liable for serious problems when the slump arrives(or gets even deeper) and there’s no strength in depth. Too much owed by customers is another area of problems. Most of us “Age” our outstanding customer debts. 30 days not too bad but 60 days or even worse 90 days and we start to worry. Again we have to keep on top of it. If we don’t the rocky road is rapidly approaching. Luckily I am dismantling my business preparatory to retiring so I am out of all that. But years ago when I was an Accountant in Industry it gave me many many sleepless nights.

    • 11 years ago

      Another story from my past. There was a large(about £50,000) invoice that was constructed from a number of contract enhancements and upgrades etc. Well it became overdue which should never have happened. So I got onto the bloke who made it all happen in that company. He investigated and came back to me. There was a Free of Charge” upgrade(basically a guage that was to be added to the installation) and it had not been fitted. I went straight round to the Senior Maintenance Engineers Office(it was one of his guys who had to fit it) because it was a Free of Charge item he had not given it a priority-just fit it when you feel like it. I kicked backsides and arranged for it to be fitted a couple of days later and a couple of days after that the cheque for the whole invoice turned up. In the years I worked for that company hardly a day went by without me having problems with the Senior Maintenance Engineer so I was very pleased when he left us for a job in Iran before the Shah’s overthrow(gives you an idea of the age of some of my memories).

    • 11 years ago

      Years ago we used to use 3 letters. When we sent out the Statement we would often put in one of the 3 letters. The first was quite mild-basically “Please Pay”. The second was a bit stronger “Please Pay or Else” and finally if the account was grossly overdue it was “Pay up or we take the necessary actions”. I always found the first 2 letters to be all but useless. I always thought that the recipient probably just screwed them up and chucked them in the bin. Even the 3’d letter was of only marginal use. After all if you had no money no matter how many letters you were sent you could not pay. I remember when I was Depot Accountant in a large Garage. We had a customer who wanted a new cab for a truck but his account was awful so he was on the stoplist. I spent a long time that day on the phone with him saying “We need that cab” and me saying “You can have it when you pay for the outstanding”. He kept sending his mechanic to pick up the cab without a cheque and we kept sending him back without the cab to get a cheque. Eventually he got the idea and sent his mechanic with a cheque in his hot sticky little hand and we released the cab. But the poor mechanic had spent a couple of hours driving back and forwards before he was finally given the cheque to give us. As a matter of interest at that garage my Credit Controller had the sexiest phone voice I ever heard although she was certainly not a young sexy lady.

  • JohnC
    11 years ago

    Hmm, so a manufacturer of colour printers is recommending …er… more colour printing!

    Why ever would they say that?

  • 11 years ago

    Howdy,

    How about sticking a lolly-pop to it, adds a completely different dynamic to the invoice and literally sweetens the deal?

    Although, I like David’s suggestion, coloured paper would also stand out well.

    Matthew

    • 11 years ago

      I found myself thinking about lolly-pops. The object of sticking things onto an invoice or printing on coloured paper is to attract the eye. After all years ago I was often faced by piles of paper If something attracted my eye perhaps it might get promoted up the pile. Lolly-pops might attract the eye and in my case with a sweet tooth I might very well eat it. But if the job was being done by a lady on a diet she probably would ignore it. If you ignore Lolly-pops after a while they start to get sticky and then gum up the works(see sweets ignored down the back of chairs etc). Then rather than getting the invoice promoted they are more likely to get it demoted just out of annoyance.

    • 11 years ago

      One place I worked we were always hard up against the Banks Limits. We could not pay any bills even if we wanted to. So each morning the Managing Director(as totally useless object) would open the post(soon after opening the post he would go home-his work for the day over). He would add up the cheques in the post and authorise me to pay say £1,000 of invoices that day. I would then go through the Purchase Ledger and try to pay the maximum amount while not really spending more than a few pounds with each supplier. So I took into account credit notes etc and would pay all the small invoices while staying well clear of anything over say £25. The trouble was that this is only possible for a short period of time before you start to run into troubles and we did. But not long after I left the Company(after a row with the Managing Director over a tree(it overhung the factory and looked like it was about to fall across the factory roof I was told it was safe by the MD so I brought it to the attention of the Company Secretary(who owned the factory) and he approved it being cut down but the MD took it that I had gone behind his back(which I had) and he sacked me(as he has been dead for many years I hope he has enjoyed his cumuppence in the heat of hades)

  • 11 years ago

    In my experience, the best way to get my invoices paid: invoices not paid ratio up is not to do any work for anyone who doesn’t pay up. Be that someone who hasn’t paid me or someone who someone else says doesn’t pay up.

    I’m in a good position now, I can pick and choose my clients, so I do. Turned down a potential 3 k job just last week because I got the impression the client might not cough up without being overly prompted. Better things to do than chase money.

    I like the lollipop idea alot though.

Featured in this article from the Tamebay Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.

See More Companies >

Recent Comments

11 hours ago
Alan Paterson: @ r, not ridiculous if you are trying to make a point. I am just...
17 hours ago
Jonty: @Alan. Yes agree a very long post from r. But a truthful example of the ridiculous...
18 hours ago
r: we agree ,a ridiculously long post A simple copy and paste of ebays item specific list And...
20 hours ago
Alan Paterson: @r long post you make illustrating item specifics. i know what they are and why...