Effective ways to chase unpaid invoices

Most of the time, clients and customers pay on time, cash flow is steady and all is well. But sometimes, invoices go unpaid. Perhaps the client is trying it on; perhaps there’s a genuine reason why they’re struggling to pay. Whatever the reason, unpaid invoices can hold up your business, reduce your income and restrict your business growth. In this blog, we look at how best to chase unpaid invoices, and how to avoid the situation in the first place.

  • Late payments – prevention is better than cure

The best way to deal with unpaid invoices is to limit the chances of them occurring in the first place. There are two ways you can do this: clarify the invoicing process in your terms and conditions or contract, and always issue a quote before you start work.

When you write your T&Cs, or the contract you will issue to your client or customer, be clear about timescales for paying invoices. That way, if the client doesn’t pay, you can refer them to the legal agreement between the two of you. This will also protect you if you find yourself having to escalate the situation.

Make sure you client knows exactly what comes at a cost and what is free. It’s always a good idea to issue a quote – if the client doesn’t ask, assert yourself and tell them you’ll send one over for their approval before you start work. If there is a charge for, say, telephone calls or travel, make sure the client is aware. There’s nothing more likely to lead to an unpaid invoice than an unexpected expense!

If the invoice is going to be particularly large, it can be a good idea to remind the client before you issue it. If they need to put anything in place to ensure the payment goes through, advance warning will give them time to prepare.

  • Unpaid invoices – a friendly approach

The most common reason for not paying invoices is oversight. The invoice arrives with your client on a busy day and they just don’t get round to it. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start with a friendly approach. We like, “can I just check you received this?” and “I was just going through some paperwork and I noticed…” They both give the client the chance to pay without too much embarrassment, which should keep them on your books too.

  • Chase unpaid invoices by getting serious

If, after your friendly approach, the invoice is still not paid, it’s time to up your game. Send a strongly worded letter or email. A good approach is to state what happened, then state how it made you feel (e.g. breach of trust, work not being valued) and lastly state what you want to happen next, and when by.

  • Going to small claims court

There are fees for taking your case to court, so think before you litigate! There is a mediation service too, which in some cases is the best way of resolving the situation and is cheaper than court too.

You can find up to date guidance on taking a non-payment case to court on the government website here, and you can find a court fees calculator on the Which? website here.

If, after going to court, the invoice is still not paid, you can instruct the court to send bailiffs to take the payment directly from your client. Again, there is a fee for this so do your maths and only take action if it’s worth it.

We really hope that our step-by-step guide has helped you chase unpaid invoices and get the results your business needs. To help you keep on top of invoicing and your other financial responsibilities, we’ve created a new infographic – check it out here.

Holiday checklist for small businesses

Top tips from our newest regional director, Joanne McGowan

Joanne McGowan has been part of our network for a number of years, and when we learned she was looking for a franchise opportunity, it sounded like the perfect match. She took over the running of the Guildford and East Surrey office at the start of June.

Joanne has lots of ideas for keeping businesses running smoothly, so she was the perfect person to interview for our holiday blog! Here are some of her insightful tips:

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Opening a franchise: a new opportunity for 2021

Get Ahead is proud to operate as a franchise, meaning that we have branches around the country, each run by an independent, entrepreneurial Regional Director, all under the umbrella of the Get Ahead brand. 

If you’re considering trying something new in 2021, perhaps the Get Ahead franchise opportunity will be right for you – it gives you flexibility and control over your working life, and the satisfaction of providing administrative and marketing support to businesses in your local area. In fact, there are several key reasons why next year could be the perfect time to get started! 

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4 great benefits of opening a franchise

It’s safe to say that, for most people, this year hasn’t exactly gone to plan – perhaps you started 2020 with big dreams of finally starting your own business, only to have to put those dreams aside in order to make it through the crisis. But the pandemic doesn’t have to stop your entrepreneurial aspirations forever. In fact, opening a franchise could get you back on track sooner than you think. 

There are all sorts of fantastic benefits to opening a franchise, but today we’re looking at four key advantages that could make this a great career move for you, even in all the upheaval of 2020. 

1. Build a business 

Starting a new business always comes with some risk, and this is especially true now, when markets are changing quickly and unexpectedly all the time. Against this backdrop of uncertainty, opening a franchise brings with it extra security and reassurance – you will benefit from starting a business within an established and proven brand, and you will have the support of other franchisees to help you through those difficult early months. A franchise allows you to open a business, but not alone. 

2. Work for yourself 

Many people have had to rethink how they work over the last few months, from finding a new office space, to adapting to new regulations, to having to leave a previous job. Although these things can be extremely stressful, they also provide an opportunity to take a serious look at your working life and see if you are in a position to make a more long-term change. You must weigh up your options carefully, but these new circumstances may be just the push you need to finally pursue the dream of being your own boss. 

3. Manage your own time 

One of the greatest benefits of running a business is that you have the freedom to manage your own time. This is more important than ever when life is unpredictable and you never know when you might need to help out a relative or do some last-minute childcare. Running your own business allows you to be flexible – you can take on extra work when you have the time, or prioritise your other commitments if you need to. 

4. Work remotely 

Almost all of us have had to adjust to remote working this year, and you may have discovered that you really like it – the freedom to build your work around your family life, the flexibility of the working hours, and the peace and quiet of having an office all to yourself. If this sounds like you, then starting a franchise could mean you can benefit from the home-working lifestyle for a long time to come! 

If you’re interested in running a virtual assistant agency, providing administrative and business support to small businesses in your area, then the Get Ahead VA franchise opportunity could be perfect for you! Contact us on 01483 332 220. We’d be happy to talk to you about your next big career move! 

Continuity, reassurance and value for money – why savvy business owners repurpose their content

A little while ago, we were invited to a celebration lunch with one of our clients. During the lunch, the company’s marketing manager told us she had been approached by the Sunday Telegraph who wanted to do a piece about them. The marketing manager was delighted that the VAs had created such a wealth of blogs and factsheets for her to draw on – all she had to do was copy and paste the right paragraphs and send them off to the journalist. We were delighted too – it’s this kind of repurposing that makes content marketing great value for money, as well as empowering our clients to take their own action.

Even if you haven’t been approached by a Sunday paper (!) it’s still a great idea to repurpose your blogs, factsheets, ebooks and social media posts.

Here are some of our favourite ideas:

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Going viral… How to be a responsible business owner during the coronavirus outbreak

When a news story breaks, many business owners leverage it in content marketing. We might be blogging about workplace bullying in the wake of Priti Patel’s dismissal, or crafting a really engaging meme for International Women’s Day (which is on Sunday, by the way). By and large, this is a good thing. Current content with an immediate appeal offers value for clients – it’s helpful for them to hear a different opinion, and it’s a great opportunity to show that your business takes a humane and inclusive stance on issues like workplace behaviour and equality. It’s good for SEO too – people Googling for the news story may find your content too and hey presto, lots of lovely conversions.

But there is another side to this. To be successful business owners, we also have to be responsible business owners. Some current affairs stories are inappropriate launch pads for content marketing. Coronavirus is one of them.

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How to work as a partnership

Get Ahead VA is very proud to have branches across the country, and we’re always on the lookout for ambitious, business-minded people who are interested in opening a new branch in their local area. Our Regional Directors are brimming with good advice about being your own boss. Today, Kristy and Suzanne, co-Directors of our Berkshire & North Hampshire office, are here with some advice about working together as a partnership.

When we set up our branch of Get Ahead VA in 2019, we decided to do it as a pair. There are all sorts of benefits to going into business with another person – companionship, shared workload, complementary skills – so if you’re thinking of doing this, here are some tips for how to make your business partnership work!

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Self-care tips for business owners

Running a business is something many people to aspire to do, but once you get there, the reality can be much more stressful than you might have imagined – and this can have an impact on the whole of your life. In fact, research by Xero has found that one in ten business owners admit that the stress of running a business has negatively impacted their mental health.*

But running a business can also be hugely rewarding (and lots of fun!) – so how can you ensure that you get the best out of entrepreneurship, while also learning how to deal with the stressful parts in a healthy way? Well, you have to be realistic about the challenges involved, and you must take the time to look after your mental health. Not sure where to start? Here are 4 of our top self-care tips for business owners!

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