Most businesses have trouble with overdue invoices at one time or another. However, there are things you can do to prevent late payments and some simple ways to send overdue email invoice reminders.
How to prevent overdue invoices
Nobody likes to waste time chasing unpaid invoices, however, for many businesses, this is a reality of their daily life. This article is designed to give you some tips on how to chase an overdue invoice, and also give you some examples of emails you can use. However, there’s an even better solution than writing overdue invoice letters, and that’s prevention.
There are a few things you can do to safeguard yourself against late payments, and while nothing is guaranteed, these steps should help you get paid faster.
1. Use invoice templates
This maintains consistency, and also allows you to include payment terms and conditions on every invoice you send. It’s the best way to create invoices.
2. Store customer cards on file
This way, a customer can make quick and easy payments, increasing your chances of getting paid on time. You can also set up recurring payments and avoid the problem altogether if your client pays a fixed fee each month.
3. Set clear payment terms
If you charge interest or late payment fees, make this extremely clear in your customer communications and on all invoices.
4. Run credit checks
For ongoing services, there’s nothing to prevent you from running credit checks before accepting clients.
6 Tips When Writing an Overdue Invoice Email
Here are some useful tips you can use when writing your overdue email reminders. These tips will help you create your own invoice reminder email templates you can use for all of your customers.
1. Follow up regularly
It’s a fact that some of your customers are simply disorganised and forgetful. By sending reminders before the invoice is due, when it falls due, and at multiple stages when the invoice is overdue, you show that you’re serious about receiving payment. We’ve included some templates below that you can use for various stages of the invoicing process.
2. Use appropriate language
You want customers to know that you’re serious, but at the same time, you don’t want to alienate them. Overly aggressive reminder emails a day after the invoice falls due are never a good idea. So, tailor your language for each point in the follow-up. Your first couple of reminders should always remain friendly, and increase in urgency with each reminder. Even for a final notice, keep your language professional and not personal.
3. Consider implementing late payment penalties
You may like to consider implementing a late payment penalty policy as an incentive for customers to pay on time. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, but you should check the laws. You should only be charging fees that cover your expenses for chasing the payment. Also, late payment penalties should be clearly advised at the start of a project or on your first invoice so the customer doesn’t feel ambushed.
4. Offer payment plans
Sometimes, customers don’t mean to ignore your invoices, but they genuinely can’t afford to pay it. It’s as embarrassing for your customer as it is frustrating for you. One way to encourage payment is to offer a payment plan. This may include fees to cover the cost of implementing the plan, but it may help customers meet their obligations.
5. Automate your reminders
Using tools like Square Invoices, you can ensure email reminders are sent at regular intervals without manual intervention. With sophisticated software, you can use templates so that you don’t even have to lift a finger. If a payment is overdue, or reaches a certain time period past the due date, your system can automatically send reminders.
6. Include all invoice details
When sending a reminder email, it’s important to include all of the original invoice details. Make mention of the invoice number in your subject line, mention the invoice number and amount in your text, and even attach a copy of your invoice. This ensures a customer can never claim they haven’t received the invoice, and also gives them the best opportunity to pay if they have genuinely lost the original one.
Overdue invoice email templates
If you’ve never written an overdue invoice reminder email before, it can be a little daunting. How much information do you include? What tone of voice is appropriate? To make this a little easier, we’ve included some overdue payment reminder email samples below. Use these and tailor them as you see fit!
1. Initial reminder email (One week before the due date)
Email subject: Follow-up on invoice #001
We hope you’re well. This email is just a reminder that payment on invoice #001, which we sent on March 25th, falls due next week on [DUE DATE].
We know how busy you are, but if you could take a moment to look over the invoice, we’d greatly appreciate it. Please let us know if you have any questions.
Notes: This example works well because it’s nothing more than a simple reminder. You’re not bothering the customer with too much information and the tone is friendly. You’re also not asking for immediate payment, because the invoice isn’t due yet.
2. Second payment reminder (1-15 days past due date)
Email subject: Invoice #001 is now overdue
Our records show that we’re yet to receive payment of $2,170 for Invoice #001, which was due on [DUE DATE].
If payment has already been sent, please disregard this message. If you don’t have a copy of the invoice, we’ve attached one for your records. Please let us know if you have any concerns or questions.
Notes: You’ll notice the tone is still friendly, and isn’t accusatory, because sometimes payments take a couple of days to come through. However, you’re being clear that the payment is overdue and needs to be paid. You’ve also provided a copy, so the customer can’t say they’ve never received the invoice.
3. Third payment reminder (15-30 days past due date)
Email subject: Invoice #001 is 2 weeks overdue
We have now written to you twice regarding payment of $2,170 for invoice #001. This payment was due on [DUE DATE], but we are still yet to receive payment.
If there is a reason this invoice has not been paid, we would ask that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. We have also provided another copy of the invoice (attached) for your records.
Could you reply to this message and let us know when we can expect payment?
Notes: This email is a little less friendly in tone, but it’s still polite. You’re creating a sense of urgency now, but still giving the customer options to talk to you if there are any problems. You’re also directly asking for payment in this reminder email.
4. Fourth payment reminder (30+ days past due date)
Email subject: Invoice #001 is now 30 days overdue – please make payment immediately
We are writing with another reminder that invoice #001 for $2,170 is now more than 30 days overdue. Payment was due on [DUE DATE], and we have sent three reminders with no response.
Please note that as per our terms and conditions, we may start charging late payment penalties for invoices more than 30 days overdue.
Again, please contact us if there is a reason you haven’t made payment. Otherwise, please arrange for payment to be made immediately.
Notes: This email is much more direct and formal. You’re notifying of the possible consequences for late payment. However, it’s still professional, still encouraging communication if there is an issue, but you’re getting your point across a little more forcefully.
What If Payment Request Emails for Outstanding Payments Don’t Work?
While extremely frustrating, an unpaid invoice with 4 ignored reminder emails probably requires some further leg-work on your part. There could be a number of reasons, such as your contact leaving the business, change of email address or some other reason that your emails haven’t been received.
So, your next step is to contact the business by phone, either through your contact or their accounts department. The only other alternative is to start charging late payment penalties, or in extreme circumstances, refer the customer to your state-based collection agency.