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How to Collect Payment From a Customer, Faster (With Email Templates)

November 22, 2022 9 min. read
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Timely customer payments keep your business’s cash flow positive and allow you to pay your own expenses on time. When a client doesn’t pay, however, it can do serious damage to your business.

In this article, we’ll show you the best and fastest ways to collect payment from a customer. We’ve even included scripts and templates that you can confidently use in emails or adapt for in-person and phone conversations.

1. Ask for client payment up front

Getting paid doesn’t have to wait till the job’s done—just ask for an up-front deposit before you get started. This is a partial payment that helps you maintain positive cash flow, cover project costs, and prevent outstanding invoices from going unpaid.

You can request deposits for new clients, jobs above a certain value, or any project at all. It’s up to you and what works best for your business—and what’s legally allowed in your state.

READ MORE: When to send an invoice

Use this script to ask a new customer for a deposit:

2. Send convenient digital invoices

It’s easy for customers to misplace a print invoice, which makes it harder for them to pay. You can avoid that problem—and save time writing invoices—by sending a digital version.

Digital invoices are quick to create and even faster to send directly to a client’s email inbox.

Because they start from a template, digital invoices cover all the details of a completed job, like client information, line item costs, total amount owed, and payment terms.

READ MORE: What to include on an invoice: must-haves to get paid

Not sure what to say when sending a digital invoice? Use this email template as a starting point to help you politely (but firmly) ask for payment:

3. Give customers multiple ways to pay

Having multiple invoice payment options can help you get paid faster and make your business look more legitimate. Make it easy for clients to pay the way they prefer, like cash, check, debit or credit card payments (in person or online), or e-transfer.

READ MORE: How to accept credit card payments on your phone

Use this email template to tell customers which payment methods you accept:

You might prefer one type of payment, even if you offer multiple ways to pay.

For example, some businesses prefer to only offer online payments because they’re convenient for both their customers and their business.

You can still offer multiple ways to pay with a single payment type. Just use this email template:

4. Communicate clear payment terms

When a customer knows when and how to pay, they’re more likely to do it. Your invoice’s payment terms provide that information.

These terms go on the invoice itself and should include:

  • Date when the invoice was issued
  • Total amount due, including taxes
  • Payment deadline
  • Payment methods and instructions

READ MORE: What does net 30 mean on invoices?

Use this template to communicate your payment terms to customers:

5. Provide early payment incentives

There’s only one thing better than a paid invoice, and that’s an invoice paid early.

Encourage customers to pay before the payment due date by offering an incentive like a 5% discount on the service being billed, or a 20% discount on future service.

You may also have the option to charge a late fee or interest on a late invoice, depending on your local business legislation and any restrictions in your area.

Given the choice between a discount and a penalty, customers are more likely to choose the discount. Use this template to encourage customers to pay before their invoice is due:

6. Offer a flexible payment schedule

Collecting payments doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. You can offer financing to customers and allow them to make several smaller payments instead of one large lump sum.

By offering financing, your small business can win more quotes and improve cash flow. Your customers will also appreciate how your services now fit within their budget.

You can use this email template to offer payment options to customers:

You can also choose to offer consumer financing through a lending partner like Wisetack. This means you get paid in full when the work is done—no worrying about collecting payment.

7. Follow up on invoices

Even when you follow our earlier tips, you may still run into customers who don’t pay their invoices on time—and chasing them for payment can feel awkward and stressful.

Invoice reminders are a great way to nudge customers who forgot to pay. They also create a sense of urgency for any customers who might have been delaying for a reason.

Either way, you can collect late payments stress-free with this overdue payment reminder:

Sometimes customers just won’t pay, despite your best efforts. Your next move is to take legal action—send their bill to a collection agency, fire them as a client, and bring in new clients who will actually pay.

8. Send proof of payment

Once an invoice is paid, send the customer a receipt immediately as proof they paid their bill. This is essential for everyone’s records in case there’s an issue or dispute later on.

Your receipt contains all the same information as your invoice, like customer details, service line items and costs, and total amount paid. It also clearly states that payment has been received.

You can attach the receipt to your customer service follow-up email, or send this email template on its own:

9. Use invoicing and payment software

Invoicing software like Jobber helps you with the payment tips in this article, like sending digital invoices, communicating payment terms, and following up with customers. It can also help you:

  • Convert an estimate or work order into an invoice with one click
  • Send multiple invoices at once to different customers by email or snail mail
  • See open and overdue invoices and send reminder emails automatically
  • Connect your invoicing to your accounting by syncing with QuickBooks Online
  • Monitor and report on the financial health of your small business

Sign up for your free 14-day trial of Jobber and find out how easy it can be to collect payment from customers.

READ MORE: “I almost lost a $2,000 invoice”: how this arborist got organized

Originally published July 2017. Last updated on November 22, 2022.

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