Not every customer pays bills on receipt, even when an invoice clearly asks for immediate payment. But delays of 60 to 90 days or longer often pose undue hardships for a cash-strapped start-up business.
How should you handle late-paying customers? A good first step is to call and ask when the check was mailed. If it hasn't been sent, ask when the invoice is scheduled for payment. Your goal is to get a commitment.
If the customer offers a good reason for not having paid, try to remedy the situation. If the goods were unsatisfactory, replace them.
If the customer won't agree to pay by a given date, ask why. Once you have the reason, say goodbye and end the call.
If the customer won't give you a straight answer, consider your relationship with them, how important the account is to you and what your cash flow needs are. Then review your options: Should you write off the loss this time and insist all future purchases be C.O.D.? Write a personal letter? Your relationship with the client will guide you in what strategies will work best. If all else fails, put the matter in the hands of an attorney or a collection agency.