Sole Trader Debt Problems – How to collect money owed for work done

Sole Trader Debt Problems – How to collect money owed for work done

Many sole traders and small businesses are unwilling to chase bad debt.
Research has shown that many of these are hesitant about doing so because of how awkward or uncomfortable it makes them feel. Others do not pursue what they are owed for fear of antagonising or alienating a customer who they want to keep. Even if these businesses have started trying to recover the money 3 in 10 will simply give up before they have their money.

Sole Trader Debt

Many sole traders and small businesses are unwilling to chase bad debt.

Research has shown that many of these are hesitant about doing so because of how awkward or uncomfortable it makes them feel. Others do not pursue what they are owed for fear of antagonising or alienating a customer who they want to keep. Even if these businesses have started trying to recover the money 3 in 10 will simply give up before they have their money.

As sole traders and small businesses are usually cash-flow reliant, this is a worrying trend and can cause significant issues to the business. Those who do spend significant time and resources trying to secure overdue payments also tend to do so at the expense of effectively managing newer invoices and so are simply storing up more problems further down the line.

All of this can take a heavy toll on these businesses who often do not have the time, resources or expertise to dedicate to the issue. So how do you go about getting the money that you are owed for the work that you have done?

Steps you could take

At Daniels Silverman we have compiled a list of the steps you should be taking to ensure that you are paid what you owed.

  1. Do your research: if a larger company has sub-contracted work to you and it is worth a lot of money, research the company. Are they known to be unreliable payers? Ask around and see if any of your contacts have worked for them before, and if so, how were they treated?
  2. Be clear: Make sure your terms are set out clearly from the start. It’s always good to have them printed on your invoice as a reminder.
  3. Have a clear and well-defined late payment policy. This will ensure consistency within the business. It also allows your customers to understand from the beginning when exactly you expect payment by and steps you will take if it is not received.
  4. Have a contract: If this is possible have a contract detailing the work that you are going to carry out and your payment terms. This is not always possible and sometimes an oral contact is entered into, however, these are much more difficult to enforce. It’s better all round if you can have a contract in place.
  5. Document what you do: keep a physical record of expenses, the work in progress and any interaction with the customer. Document before and after pictures of the work that you have done. Ask the customer to sign off on work that have completed at various stages of the project.
  6. Invoice them: Invoice your customer with a breakdown of the work that has been completed and remember to have your payment terms on here again.

This is all great in theory, but what do you do if the customer then doesn’t pay you for the work you have done?

  1. Remind them: send them a reminder letter that is clear, polite, firm and non-confrontational. Oversights can happen and they may have genuinely forgotten that they have not paid you yet. Sending a letter also keeps a line of communication open.
  2. Give them a call: If, after a few weeks, there has been no response to your reminder, then pick up the phone and try and find out what the problem is. Sometimes there may be a genuine reason for being late, or the payment may be imminent. A quick call may be all that’s needed to find out the full picture and come to an agreement.
  3. Promises: If there are repeated promises made that payment has been made/is being made that day, and no money turns up, then it’s time to take action.
  4. Consider using an agency: If you are getting nowhere trying to recover your money then it may be time to call in the experts. A good, established and professional agency will have the expertise and time needed to pursue this for you. Using an agency doesn’t mean that you have to lose the client. An established and experienced agency will work hard to ensure that your client relationships are maintained and that any prospect of future work is not damaged.

Using an ethic and established collection agency like Daniels Silverman will lift the burden of having to try and chase and recover the money that you are owed. This means that the time wasted and stress you have been experiencing will be gone leaving you free to concentrate on the rest of your customer base and growing your business.

At Daniels Silverman we assess every case that comes in because no two debts are the same, we tailor a debt recovery path to each individual case to ensure maximum results. We understand that we are acting on your behalf and your reputation is paramount and we will do all we can to protect your reputation as well as your client and customer relationships.

If you would like to work in partnership with Daniels Silverman and let us take the burden of collecting money from you, why not give one of our friendly team a call today? We ask for no money up front and only ever expect to be paid on our results. We are friendly, approachable, transparent and honest, what have you go to lose?

Call Daniels Silverman today or start a web chat and see how we can help provide you with a tailored credit management system for your business.