10 email templates to get late-paying customers to pay invoices on time

10 min read

How often do your customers pay their invoices late? Or if you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, how often do your clients get paid late by their customers? Xero took a look at their data in 2017 and discovered that 52% of invoices were paid late. The real concern, though, is the knock-on effect this has on businesses. Research from The Federation of Small Businesses uncovered that in the UK, 50,000 small business failures could be prevented each year by eliminating late payment.

Here at Chaser, chasing up payment is our specialty. We’ve been refining our payment-chasing email templates for several years, to produce what we believe are the most effective to get paid on time. Our users get those email templates built-in to Chaser (if you don’t use Chaser, you can still get them here). But while these are a one-size-fits-most solution, they aren’t one-size-fits-all. For those times when you or your clients have bad-paying customers that are a nightmare to get payment from, we’ve assembled the best practice email templates to use, and sending schedule to follow, below.

Before we begin

Before you go ahead and make use of the below templates, there are a few quick things anyone conducting credit control should do first:

  1. Ensure these 8 common credit control mistakes aren’t being made.
  2. Be extra careful chasing customers for payment if the invoice was issued within 14 days of the due date OR the payment terms are 14 days.
  3. Think about the tone wanting to be conveyed, and whether that should change for certain customers. Every business is going to know its customers better than anyone else, so if you feel the wording of any of the below templates should be changed, trust your gut and make those changes.

Chasing up bad payers

The definition of what’s considered to be a ‘bad payer’ is something that can drastically differ depending on who you ask. We’ve written a post previously on what really makes customers “good” or “bad”. The short of it is: most bad-paying customers are simply those that have built a reputation for paying past the invoice due date. If you were already expecting a customer to miss the due date of an invoice before it rolled around, that’s a classic example of a bad payer. In general, chasing bad payers via email requires more focus on firmness and specificity, doing away with casualness and pleasantries (without being rude, of course). You also want to keep on top of bad payers more frequently than other customers.

Below is our recommended email sending schedule for bad payers. This schedule is optimised for businesses that sell on 30 day payment terms. For shorter or longer payment terms, we’ve noted adjustments below.

  • 32 days before due - Confirm contact and invoice details
    • Shorter / longer terms: Send 2 days before issuing invoice
  • 30 days before due - Invoice issued
    • Shorter / longer terms: Send the number of days before due as per terms
  • 21 days before due - First payment date confirmation
    • Shorter terms: Send halfway between issuing invoice and due date
    • Longer terms: Send a quarter of the way between issuing invoice and due date
  • 14 days before due - Second payment date confirmation
    • Shorter terms: Do not send
    • Longer terms: Send halfway between issuing invoice and due date
  • 7 days before due - Payment date not confirmed
    • Shorter terms: Send 2 days before due date
    • Longer terms: Send three-quarters of the way between issuing invoice and due date

--- Invoice due date ---

  • 1 day overdue - Invoice overdue, penalty reminder
  • 7 days overdue - Invoice overdue, penalty notice deadline set
  • 14 days overdue - Penalty notice issued, court proceedings raised
  • 21 days overdue - Court order deadline set for 7 days
  • 28 days overdue - Court order drafted and submitted

Email template: 32 days before due - Confirm contact and invoice details

SUBJECT LINE:
Your invoice <<invoice-reference-number>> - Confirming details

BODY TEXT:
Hi <<recipient-first-name>>,

How are you?

I'm drafting your upcoming invoice for next month. Can you confirm that your billing entity is <<customer-company-name>> and that the amounts and details on the attached invoice are correct?

Please note this is a DRAFT invoice. So please do check your invoices when they come in at the start of the month.

Thanks in advance.

All the best,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 30 days before due - Invoice issued

EMAIL SUBJECT:
<<your-company-name>> invoice: <<customer-company-name>> <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Hi <<recipient-first-name>>,

I hope you're well.

Please find attached your invoice and statement for <<customer-company-name>>. Our credit term is <<payment-terms-number-of-days>> days. You can also view and pay it online via this link: <<online-invoice-link>>.

Best regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 21 days before due - First payment date confirmation

EMAIL SUBJECT:
<<your-company-name>> invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Hi <<recipient-first-name>>,

How are you today?

I just wanted to check in about our invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>. I’ve resent it here as an attachment in case my previous message didn’t reach you.

I understand that this was received quite recently but could you please share the expected payment date? Once a payment date is provided (even if provisory to begin with) we can make a note to stop following up.

Thank you in advance and have a nice day.

Best regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 14 days before due - Second payment date confirmation

EMAIL SUBJECT:
<<your-company-name>> invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Hi <<recipient-first-name>>,

Hope you are having a great week.

Just a gentle reminder that your invoice <<invoice-reference-number>> is due in <<number-of-weeks-until-due>> weeks. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to assist with the settlement of your invoice. Furthermore, if you have scheduled a payment, please advise us on the value date and we will make a note to stop these reminders.

You can also view and pay the invoice online via this link: <<online-invoice-link>>.

All the best,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 7 days before due - Payment date not confirmed

EMAIL SUBJECT:
<<your-company-name>> invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Hi <<recipient-first-name>>,

How are you?

Just a reminder that your invoice <<invoice-reference-number>> is due on <<invoice-due-date>>. Kindly note that late payments will incur extra fees.

You can also view and pay the invoice online via this link: <<online-invoice-link>>.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Best regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 1 day overdue - Invoice overdue, penalty reminder

EMAIL SUBJECT:
<<your-company-name>> <<invoice-reference-number>> for <<customer-company-name>> is Now Overdue

BODY TEXT:
Hi <<recipient-first-name>>,

How are you today?

The invoice <<invoice-reference-number>> is now overdue. Kindly note that late payments can incur extra fees.

Your response on an expected payment date for this transaction is required to prevent penalty charges. We’ve reached out previously and have been unable to receive your response on an expected payment date.

You can view and pay your invoice online via this link: <<online-invoice-link>>.

We thank you for your attention on this and look forward to your reply.

Best regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 7 days overdue - Invoice overdue, penalty notice deadline set

EMAIL SUBJECT:
Please act now to avoid late payment penalty for <<customer-company-name>>: <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Dear <<recipient-first-name>>,

Please do take note of the following. If we don't receive a reply, we may call to confirm.

The invoice <<invoice-reference-number>> is now <<number-of-days-overdue>> days overdue.

Should we not hear back from you within the next seven days, we will issue a late payment penalty notice. The penalty structure is set out by the UK government under Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 1674). <<your-company-name>> will charge the statutory interest of 8% plus the Bank of England base rate for business to business transactions, in addition to a fee of £40 to £100 based on the size of the invoice.

To access the invoice and the debit/credit card payment gateway, please follow this link: <<online-invoice-link>>. I've also attached a copy invoice to this email for your reference.

Thank you for your attention on this. I look forward to your reply.

Best regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 14 days overdue - Penalty notice issued, court proceedings raised

EMAIL SUBJECT:
Late Payment Penalty Notice for <<customer-company-name>>: <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Dear <<recipient-first-name>>,

Regrettably, we have not received your payment for the the overdue invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>. As such, we have to charge the statutory late payment compensation and interest as set out by the UK government under Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 1674), in addition to the outstanding amount.

The amount due as of today for <<invoice-reference-number>> is <<unpaid-invoice-amount>>.

To access the invoice and the debit/credit card payment gateway, please follow this link: <<online-invoice-link>>.

We will issue the penalty separately to this email, unless the remaining balance can be cleared today.

Kind regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 21 days overdue - Court order deadline set for 7 days

EMAIL SUBJECT:
7 days before claim submission at HM Courts and Tribunal Services - <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Dear <<recipient-first-name>>,

Regrettably, we have not received your payment, nor have we received a response about the overdue invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>. As such, we’ve had to charge the statutory late payment compensation and interest as set out by the UK government under Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 1674), in addition to the outstanding amount.

The amount due as of today for <<invoice-reference-number>> is <<unpaid-invoice-total-plus-late-payment-penalty-amount>>.

To access the invoice and the debit/credit card payment gateway, please follow this link: <<online-invoice-link>>.

If the total amount due is not paid within the next seven days, this case will be submitted to HM Courts and Tribunal Services. Each of the further claim stages will incur additional fees and greatly increase the balance owed.

Please act now to address this matter.

Kind regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

Email template: 28 days overdue - Court order drafted and submitted

EMAIL SUBJECT:
Money claim submitted for <<customer-company-name>> invoice <<invoice-reference-number>>

BODY TEXT:
Dear <<recipient-first-name>>,

Regrettably, the overdue invoice <<invoice-reference-number> has not been settled despite multiple attempts to communicate a payment date with your team. Therefore, the money claim for the amount due has been submitted to HM Courts and Tribunal Services by our company whose registered name is <<your-company-name>>.

The court fees has been added to your debt and the amount due is <<unpaid-invoice-total-plus-court-fees-amount>> as stated by the attached document. Every stage in a money claim process incurs extra fees. Please make the payment as soon as possible.

The next stage of this claim will result in a judgment issued against <<customer-company-name>> and this will impact your company’s credit rating. You can avoid this by settling the amount due before the case progresses. Should the claim progress beyond a judgment being issued, a warrant will then be issued and bailiffs will visit your premises to collect the outstanding amount.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,
<<sender-first-name>>

It sucks, but have a plan for non-payment

The above email templates and sending schedule are, in a generalised sense, the best practice approach you can have to get invoices paid on time by bad-paying customers. The unfortunate reality is that credit control is a process where you can only control the inputs. Even if you do the best you can, it doesn’t guarantee every customer will pay on time.

For the (very very small) minority of cases where the above templates do not result in the invoice getting paid, you will need to proceed - as you warned the customer you would - through the legal system (which our credit control guru Kier details briefly here). After reading this, however, you may decide charging late payment penalties or undertaking legal proceedings is not the right approach for the customer in question. That’s completely fine - but ensure you remove those threats from the email templates above before sending them. Using empty threats is one of the biggest credit control mistakes one can make.

How to prevent late payment in future

For bad-paying customers, stick to the templates and schedule laid out above in this post. In the majority of cases, payment will be collected on the invoice without having to proceed with late payment penalties or court proceedings.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s possible to turn bad-paying customers into superstars. We wrote a blog post detailing the one thing that needs to be done, and done regularly, to eventually transform them into good-payers. Give it a try.

And finally, if you want to ditch the stress and hassle of conducting credit control manually, you can always give Chaser a try. The average Chaser-using business gets its invoices paid 16 days earlier, and saves 7.3 hours a week on credit control activities. You can get your 14-day FREE trial, no credit card required, right here. Or, if you’re an accountant or bookkeeper, you can learn more about how we work with firms here.


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