From reaction to a proactive approach: how can I avoid unpaid invoices?

| Annelien Maurissen

When you start a business, you are mainly concerned with setting up your core activity. When developing a financial plan, it is good to also consider unpaid invoices and what you can do to prevent them. Unfortunately, unpaid invoices are a reality. About 37,6 percent of invoices are paid late, of which 1,7 percent are ultimately not paid at all. Many checklists focus on what you can do if your customer does not pay, but you can also prevent such a situation in advance.

From reactive to proactive payment recovery: prevent unpaid invoices instead of fighting them _design by vectorjuice

The importance of clear agreements

Making clear agreements is the most important thing. But make sure you keep track of what was agreed. Then if something goes wrong, you have something to fall back on. Between, professionals, not everything is always put on paper. Not illogical, because too much paperwork would hinder smooth trade.

A written contract is of course fine, but not always necessary. Oral agreements are just as valid, but it’s harder to use them as proof. In commercial cases you have a lot of freedom to provide that proof. For example, an email, text or WhatsApp message is sufficient. Always have a quote signed or request an explicit agreement by email. Were concrete agreements made during a meeting? Confirm them by email stating ‘as agreed’.

Understandable invoice terms as a contractual framework

In addition to a correctly drawn up invoice, additional invoice conditions can encourage timely payment. They are not required by law, but are strongly recommended. You avoid a lot of discussion and any problems are solved faster. This ‘small print’ determines, among other things, what happens in the event of a payment problem.

By drawing up invoice conditions, you create a good contractual framework that applies to any agreement with another company. Deliver them to your customer and ask for a signature or confirmation. An invoice is deemed to have been tacitly accepted if it is not disputed at short notice. If you invoice conditions are at the back of your invoice or you refer to them via a link, they are automatically accepted in a professional relationship.

Do not just copy invoice conditions, but adjust them to suit your company, activity and sector. If necessary, seek advice from a lawyer. You can also claim compensation in the event of non-payment, but remain reasonable.

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