1. Put everything in writing – Verbally agreeing to supply goods or services without any signed paperwork is a recipe for disaster. Quotes, orders and varied work must all be confirmed in writing so there can be no argument over what was agreed. Copies with customer signatures should be kept on file so you have a good paper trail if anything goes wrong.
2. Use a credit account application or a simple customer information form for all customers – You can then gather quality information on who you are trading with and obtain a signed agreement to your trading terms before you supply your goods and services.
3. Give all customers a copy of your trading terms – no exceptions.
4. Make sure all variations are documented and signed off – by authorised representatives of both parties before you start any work additional to or changing the scope of your original accepted quote or contract.
5. Confirm your customer’s identity & contact information – so you know you are dealing with the correct person or business entity and can address correspondence and invoice accordingly.
6. Make it easy for customers to pay – Add your bank details to invoices and clearly state the date payment is due. Accept as many payment methods as is practical and encourage credit card direct debits for ongoing services or supplies.
7. Don’t procrastinate – Deal with customer disputes when they arise, invoice promptly if you want to be paid promptly, call your customers as soon as possible if you are not paid on time and be persistent so you won’t be ignored. Remember, the rusty wheel is the one that gets oiled.
8. Make no exceptions to your credit rules – even if a customer is a friend, business acquaintance or a referral from someone you trust.
9. File your paperwork carefully – so documents can be found when you need proof of what was agreed between you and your customer. Every customer should have their own file that contains relevant paperwork that you may need to refer to e.g. their signed application for credit or their signed contract, the agreed terms and conditions, a copy of your letter confirming their credit account has been approved, details of any variation to your original quote.
10. Get help before it’s too late – If you are worried about a problem debtor get advice from a credit management specialist or an experienced debt collection agency such as Ledger Guard before you have a major problem that ends up costing you a great deal of money.