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5 Ways to Professionally (and Effectively) Ask for Late Payments

Regardless of how well you run your business, there’s bound to be late payments and overdue accounts. When a customer or client doesn’t pay on the due date, you should never let their delinquency slide for too long. However, at the same time, you shouldn’t jump to harsh methods of collecting the debt.

The question then remains, how do you send reminders or ask for late payments professionally? What’s the best way to send a polite payment reminder that’s both firm and kind enough to get you your debt and compensation?

These five professional payment reminder templates are a great way to start.

When and How to Ask for Late Payments

While it’s ideal for your customers to send their payments immediately after receiving invoices, it doesn’t always happen. However, it’s important for your business cash flow to receive payments and avoid overdue or delinquent accounts. Therefore, the best time to send your first payment reminder is before the due date, not after. More specifically, send your first follow-up email one week before the payment due date.

We understand that asking for late payments can be tough. However, the key is to maintain a steady, professional tone throughout your reminder emails and letters. Be both polite and firm, sending unquestionably deliberate statements yet with calm and kindness. We’ll show you how to steadily change your tone as time passes without payments.

1. Send the First Reminder One Week Before the Payment Due Date

Email subject: Follow-up for invoice #123

Hi Mary Jane,

I hope this message finds you well. This letter is just a reminder that payment for invoice #123 (which we sent on September 15th) is due next week.

We understand you’re probably busy, which is why we took the time to remind you a week ahead of your due date just so you’re best prepared. We’d appreciate if you took a moment to look over the invoice when you can. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

Peter Parker

Why this payment reminder works:

This reminder is short, friendly and informative. This allows your customer to quickly open, read and make a decision without spending too much time away from their obligations. It politely and professionally informs them of their payment without being pushy or overbearing.

2. Second Payment Reminder: On the Due Date 

Email subject: Invoice #123 is due today

Message:

Hi Mary Jane,

We hope you’re well. This is just a reminder that payment on invoice #123 (which we sent on September 15th), is due today. To make your payment, click here.

If you have any questions, we are happy to help in any way we can.

Thanks,

Peter Parker

Why this payment reminder works: 

In this payment reminder, you’re sending your first call to action to receive a payment. This is one of the most important payment reminders you can make, as it often defines your client-customer relationship. Keep this reminder short, friendly and to the point.

3. Third Payment Reminder: One Week After the Due Date

Email subject: Invoice #123 is one week overdue

Message:

Hi Mary Jane,

As always, we hope this message finds you well. Our records show that we haven’t received payment for Invoice #123. This is overdue by one week.

If you have already sent the payment, please disregard this notice. For any clarity or questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Thanks,

Peter Parker

Why this payment reminder works:

Since the payment is officially overdue, you’re in the clear to sharpen your tone. Include as many details as you can regarding the payment, such as the invoice number and amount. As always, continue reminding them of when the due date was, and how overdue they are. However, remain helpful—you never know what they could be going through, or if there was some sort of mix-up.

4. Fourth Payment Reminder: Two Weeks After the Due Date

Email subject: Invoice #123 is two weeks overdue

Message:

Hi Mary Jane,

We have now reminded you several times of your payment for Invoice #123, at the amount of $____. This is just another reminder that your payment is now two weeks overdue.

Please send us a response if you received these reminders, or if you lost your invoice. If you have any concerns or questions regarding this invoice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We want to help in any way we can to get this resolved and behind us.

Regards,

Peter Parker

Why this payment reminder works:

As you probably noticed, the tone gets more direct. By now, you should be asking for payment precisely and clearly. Keep the message short, so as not to deter the client from being distracted. Additionally, ask them to confirm if they received the reminders or lost their invoice.

5. Fifth and Final Payment Reminder: One Month After the Due Date

Email subject: Urgent: Invoice #123 is one month overdue

Message:

Hi Mary Jane,

This is our final reminder that your payment of $____ for Invoice #123 sent on September 15th is now one month overdue. Additional interest will be charged to your account if this payment is not received today. Please avoid any further complications or being transferred to collections by responding to this email with a reason for not paying.

We are always here to help if you have any concerns. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and inform us of why you haven’t paid your invoice.

Kind regards,

Peter Parker

Why this payment reminder works: 

Now a full month overdue, and without a response or reason for the late payment, you can take a tougher approach about receiving your debt. However, remember not to let it get personal. Maintain professionalism throughout your payment reminders.

Southwest Recovery Services

After one month of an overdue payment, the best option is to seek a debt collector. Sending overdue accounts to a collection agency sooner than later boosts your chance of getting your money back. 

We are a highly-trained debt collection agency with 20 years of experience and success in getting business owners their money back. For additional information on debt collection, contact us today.

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