How well you communicate with customers that owe you money is important. In tough economic times, what you say is even more important than ever.
In the past week, I have received emails from my bank, my doctors and just about every retail establishment I have visited in the past year. Everyone says we are “all in it together” and offer to help.
There is no reason that you have to stop communicating with customers who owe you money. Management of your accounts receivables must not stop during a down economy. Even if you know customers cannot pay you, keep communicating with them.
Not every business is closed. Not every person who owes you money is unemployed. You will not know unless you ask.
A debt collection letter is a key tool to recover money owed to you. Take a look at the collection letter you normally use. What changes can you make that will communicate to customers that you do care while still asking for the money owed to you?
Here are some ideas:
Offer a payment plan or extend terms on current payment plans
Let customers know that you are willing to work with them. It is better to have smaller payments than no payments at all. Similarly, you can delay payments entirely for a month and then use the opportunity 30 days later to have another conversation with your All payment plans should be in writing.
Offer a small discount for payment in full.
Offer a small discount for balances paid in full. However, if you do this you must make certain to specify that it is a limited time offer and that full amount will be due and owing if not made in the specified offer period.
Waive interest and late fees.
You can be very creative with finance charges. You can waive them altogether or suspend them for a period of time.
Give customers information on how to make payment while still practicing social distancing.
If your customers are used to paying you in person, make sure you give different options: pay online, pay by mail, and so forth. If you are working only reduced hours, let customers know when you will be in the office to answer questions regarding their account or to take their payments over the phone.
Customers want to think you are still in business, even if your door is closed.