Writing a collection letter to a client or customer who hasn’t paid an invoice is a tricky business. On one hand, you want to get paid the full amount as quickly as possible. On the other hand, you do not want to alienate or anger a someone who might give you future business or review your business. Below, we’ve shared a few tips for penning an effective collection letter that is professional, clear, and forthright.

  • Reference the products or services that were purchased. Make it very clear what you did for your client and how much it costs. The best way to do this is to attach a copy of the invoice or billing statement in addition to mentioning what is owed in the letter itself.
  • Maintain a friendly but firm tone. Avoid being angry, condescending, rude or impatient. Remember that there is likely a good reason the bill has not been paid — and that the reason is not often that the party is simply being rude or malicious. Instead, be understanding but insistent that the matter of the bill be addressed.
  • Remind the payee of their contract or agreement with you. Did they agree to pay within a certain time frame? Did they agree to pay a penalty if paying late? Make sure they understand and remember your business deal in detail. Many people will pay when they are reminded that they clearly agreed to the business transaction.
  • Offer multiple ways the payee can take action. You will not get the best response from a collection letter if you only offer one way to fix the issue: paying the bill in full, immediately, by check, for example. Instead, make sure that they have your contact information so that they can talk through solutions on the phone. Also make compromises available. Perhaps, if they are having cash flow issues, they can pay you in installments over a series of months.
  • Add a personal touch. No one wants to receive a cold form letter when they receive a collection letter. While some of the content can and should be standard, it helps to add a line or two about your relationship with the client (“We’ve worked together for a long time,”) and to personally sign the letter.
  • Give them a new deadline. Ask for a response after a specific period of time or by a specific day. You will be surprised how much deadlines help others take action.

It’s important to note that the best way to get paid is not through collection letters, but by setting up an effective invoicing system and invoice template. Getting clients and customers to pay quickly and without reminders can save you time and effort down the road, especially when it comes to collection letters and second notices.

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Do you need assistance with printing and mailing your collection letters and second notices? We are here to help you through every step of the process, from making sure your letter looks great to bring your letters to the post office. To learn more about our services, or to request a free quote, please contact us today.