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Most business owners balk at the term ‘delinquent accounts’, which are associated with difficult customer relationships and poor cash flow. However, this is something that half of all business owners have to deal with.

Since most business dealers will have to deal with delinquent accounts at some point, knowing how to handle them is critical. Delinquent accounts can carry a huge risk to your cash flow if your revenue hinges on invoicing and collections. Not only can this be devastating to your business operations, it may also cost you growth and investment opportunities. Although your business model may have a large customer base, your business’ actual success might be delayed if you continually have to wait for them to pay. Regular and predictable cash flow is a product of a system that lets you collect your past due accounts efficiently – and this is something you will need to learn.

If you’re overwhelmed, the good news is that it’s easier than it appears. Many measures will help you prevent delinquent accounts – the real difficulty is handling the ones that already exist. We’ve thus compiled 3 steps to help you collect past due accounts.

1) Be persistent and prompt

Your customers won’t remember that their payment is late without a reminder. While you may think that they might just remember, your payments are late for a reason. If they’ve just forgotten, a reminder will help.

However, they might be trying to extend their payment date due to their own financial difficulties. However, their inability to manage their cash flow should not manifest in a problem for you. Keep reminding them until you are paid. This persistence will remind your customers that you are serious about receiving payment. This makes them less likely to delay in turn.

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2)Mind your language

Word your requests and reminders to your customers strategically and with caution. Being polite can increase your chances of getting by 5%, according to a Freshbooks study. Just remembering your pleases and thank yous can help you out immensely.

However, not all your delinquent customers are late for the same reasons. Some might have honestly forgotten and typically have a habit of paying on time. Others, however, are consistently late. You will thus have to craft your reminder letters differently for each customer, depending on their context. Use these collection letter templates to help you out. The bottom line is to be respectful and sculpt each reminder for each specific customer’s situation.

3) Make paying easy

Want your delinquent accounts paid as quickly as possible? Make it easy for your customers. The easier it is for them to pay you, the higher the likelihood of them doing so faster.

One way to do this is to offer them more options than just simply writing a check. Accept credit cards and direct debit; make online payments accessible. Giving your customers payment options gives you a huge advantage. They can pay you faster because a way for you to pay them faster exists. Convenience also rids them of the excuse of putting off your payment.

While delinquent accounts aren’t fun, you can prevent them. It is important, however, that you also know how to fix existing problems. Consistent reminders, a variety of payment options, and good communications will help you out.