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How can I make a customer pay?

When one customer does not pay you for your company's services, you may find it annoying. When several customers make you chase them for payment, you may begin to wonder if you are doing something wrong. You may take some comfort in knowing that most businesses deal with this situation regularly. However, this does not make it easier to pay your bills.

Of course, there is no magic system that will make every customer pay on time, but there are steps you can take to improve the chances that your invoice will remain among your customers' priorities. Additionally, you have options to pursue when your clients refuse to pay what they owe.

Getting what your customer owes

If you do not have a contract that you use with your customers, now is the time to draft one. A contract makes it clear from the start when you want payment and the consequences your customer can expect if they do not pay on time. An important part of your contract will be the payment schedule, including details about any grace period and penalties. You should also be prepared to revise the contract if the customer requests changes in the project.

Even with a contract and payment schedule, you will likely encounter clients who run into financial trouble or do not think your bill is important enough to deal with in a timely manner. For those customers, you should resolve to follow through consistently with the following steps:

  • Stop any continuing work immediately if a customer misses a payment.
  • Contact the customer as soon as the deadline passes, but remain polite and keep your company's reputation in mind.
  • Consider negotiating a payment plan if your customer seems to need some flexibility, but we wary of those who will take advantage of your kindness.
  • Make regular contact with a client who has not paid, keeping the tone polite and professional.
  • Don't wait too long to seek legal advice.

A client who won't pay is denying you money you need and deserve. You have every right to pursue that payment, even if it means taking the customer to court. Often, just receiving a letter from an attorney is enough to prompt a customer to make a payment, but you may wish to discuss with your attorney whether your company will benefit from taking your claim to a Florida civil court. Your attorney can advise you on the most advantageous course of action.

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