When chasing slow payers and you’ve tried almost everything and the debtor STILL doesn’t contact you, what can you do? Try these three steps.
ONE – Send them a “snail mail” letter …
… along the lines of (and this is based on one that we’ve regularly used …. and it’s almost always successful)
Dear Mr Jones,
Please find overleaf a breakdown of monies owed by several of your entities.
- you have not been able to return our calls or reply to any correspondence
- in view of the serious ageing and of the total amount involved
this letter is to strongly suggest that you contact the firm to discuss when payment is being made.
Similarly, if you have any queries regarding any aspects of any of the accounts, please contact us. If the firm has still not heard from you by 2.00pm of Thursday, 07 January, the firm will be obliged to revert to policy. This will incur additional costs.
Again, we strongly suggest that you do respond to this letter (a copy of which has been sent to you by email) before alternative recovery action must be considered.
TWO – Send it by Registered Mail.
This tells the debtor that
- you mean business, and
- we know that they’ve got the letter.
THREE – Send it also as a pdf attachment.
The email should be sent from someone else in your organisation if possible and say simply
The attached file is self explanatory.
Why will it work?
- Because you’ve suddenly stopped calling and emailing. The debtor was getting used to being “chased” and was learning that you were easily avoidable. Your silence suddenly will become very noisy when they get your letter, twice. (Once by email and again by Registered Mail.)
- Because the wording of the letter simply
- states the facts.
- invites them to contact you again.
- gives them an unusual deadline.
- advises them that you will have to revert to policy (by using “Fear of the unknown“).
- it will cost them money NOT to contact you (“incur more costs“).
- it’s sent by another person in your organisation.
- you’re doing something different – you’re no longer being predictable and are writing the bad news. .
.. as the Ronan Keating song goes ….
“you say it best, when you say nothing at all“.
PS: To be really sure that your letter gets accepted
- put your letter in a plain envelope,
- handwrite the address on the front, and
- put a return name and address on the back of the envelope that the debtor doesn’t know. (Curiosity will make it SO tempting to accept the letter, which may be refused if it’s sent in a company envelope.)