9 steps to managing overdue invoices and getting paid

Chasing overdue invoices is one of the least enjoyable parts of being a freelancer or small business owner. You put all the hard work into giving your client the best possible result. So when it comes to being paid, it's nice to have it sooner rather than later. 

And it's always a tough battle between being demanding and remaining courteous. You don't want to burn bridges with your client, but you also want to keep them from getting away with not paying. With that in mind, we'll look at practical ways to manage your overdue invoices, get paid, and maintain relationships. 

How to manage overdue invoices

We're going to start by looking at things you can do before even issuing an invoice that will help enable speedy payments from your clients.

3 steps to take BEFORE you send off your invoice

Make your payment terms super clear and available to all clients.

Sometimes late payments aren't the payee's fault. Every freelancer has their preferred way of being paid, so it can be challenging for clients to know precisely how they should pay you.

To avoid this, lay out how you expect to be paid in clear terms before you even hand them an invoice. This could be in the form of a specific agreement with a particular client or a blanket policy you have in place for all clients. 

Make sure to send your invoices with enough time before their deadlines.

The fact that a client has outsourced some work to you should indicate that they're swamped doing whatever they need to do. They're likely working to tight deadlines — just like you! 

If you send your invoice late, it's more work for them to squeeze into their already busy schedule. 

Ensure your invoice is sent off well before any deadlines the client may be working with, so they can quickly pay before moving on to whatever they have to do next. 

Make sure you have the right person!

We can't tell you how many times we have seen invoices go to the wrong person. 

The person you coordinate with for the project may be someone other than the one who deals with the money side of things. So it's always worth asking if the person you're talking to is the same one who will be paying your invoice to ensure you're not stuck waiting while your invoice gets passed around the office. 

3 steps to take after the invoice has been sent

Let's move on to what to do after you've sent your invoice off and the payment period has expired. 

Make sure to follow up promptly.

While your client may be a business, the person you coordinate with is still human. That means they may forget all about your invoice. While that fact may annoy you, it should remind you not to leave too long before following up on an invoice. 

The longer you wait, the harder it can be to get paid. 

Write a demand letter for unpaid invoices.

Unfortunately, this is where you need to ramp up the pressure. It's not fun, but it's essential if you're serious about getting paid for your hard work.

A demand letter is a simple, formal letter that politely lets the client know that they have missed the agreed-upon payment period and action is required. 

InvoiceRecover makes this step as simple as possible with our free demand letter generator. We also have a great guide on writing a demand letter that maintains your relationship with the client and lets them know you're serious about being paid. 

Stay friendly

While late payments may put you off from working with a client in the future, it's essential not to burn bridges. This is especially true working with businesses that will likely hire you again.

There are many reasons why an invoice may be paid late. Maybe the person in charge of payment is on vacation that week. Perhaps the client is having trouble with their payment portal. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions when your invoice becomes overdue. 

And don't jump straight to legal action. Instead, give your client the benefit of the doubt and consider a friendly but firm strategy like we use at InvoiceRecover.

You don't need to come off as a pushover. Just make sure to remain friendly with the client — no matter how much you may be cursing them in private.

3 steps to take if they don't respond

Unfortunately, some rotten eggs out there will continue to duck your requests. However, here are some steps you can take if you need to escalate the recovery process.

Be persistent

Managing overdue invoices can be annoying, so channel some of that annoyance into your recovery efforts. First, send a series of emails that allows the client to remember they owe you. Now, we're not talking every couple of minutes, just every few days, but don't stop sending reminders until you have received payment.

Send an account statement. 

If your client has more than one outstanding invoice, condensing your invoices into one statement of accounts can be beneficial. This will show exactly how much they owe, the work you performed, and how to pay. 

Try direct communication

If you're mainly communicating through email or similar platforms, try giving them a quick phone call. It's much more difficult to ignore a payment request while speaking to the person you owe money to.

What if all of the above fails?

Hopefully, with help from this guide, you will get what you're owed. But, if it doesn't work, or you don't have time to go through all the steps, it's time to look for a debt recovery service. 

InvoiceRecover has been helping freelancers and small businesses get the money they deserve with our friendly but firm approach to debt recovery. 

Contact us today to see how we can help you get paid already! 

Get your overdue invoices paid.

“I got an invoice paid that was six months past due. I thought it was lost, but InvoiceRecover collected!”
Ben De Rienzo
Freelance Designer