We all know what a pivotal role email plays in business as a means for quickly and effectively communicating with customers, business partners, suppliers, and other contacts. When it comes to invoice collection in the construction industry, email is just as important to the person in charge of collecting invoices as a hammer is to someone out on a job site. But it takes more than just writing up an email and shooting it off to the customer if you truly want to see results. Here are 5 very simple ways to increase the effectiveness of your emails for faster invoice collection and improved cash flow.
Keep your invoices and emails out of SPAM
It seems like a pretty obvious step, but according to an August 2014 survey conducted by National Association of Credit Management, 49% of collectors do not take a proactive approach to ensure that their emails don’t wind up in SPAM/Junk folders. If you don’t think about this factor, it is very likely that your payment reminders, overdue notices, or even the invoice itself may never actually make it to the customer. That makes it very difficult for them to pay you in a timely manner.
Avoid this by eliminating words like “collections,” “credit” and “past due” from subject lines, which are likely to trigger IT security systems and send the messages into SPAM. You can also ask your customer to add your email address to their contact list to ensure delivery, or even follow up on important emails with phone calls to ensure receipt.
Add attachments first
We’ve all done it- mentioned attachments in the body of an email and hitting “send” without ever actually attaching them. Sometimes you catch it and can quickly send a follow up email and sometimes you don’t. Either way it can complicate things, confuse your customer, and further delay the invoice collection process. So eliminate the issue, add attachments such as PDF copies of invoices, first!
Add recipient email address last
This is similar to the above situation. If you whip up an email it’s pretty easy to hit “send” right after you sign off; especially if you’re rushing or very busy. But did you take enough time to read through the email and make sure everything is correct, clear, and professional? By adding the recipient email address last you’re giving yourself an opportunity to do this before your automatic reflex to hit send and move on to the next item on your to-do list gets in the way of sending an actionable email.
Keep it relevant
Keep invoice collection emails short, sweet, and to the point. Making it easy for the customer to quickly scan and understand what you’re asking of them is important to the overall success of the email, which is why sub headings, bullet points, and other formatting tools should be used if applicable. If you’re unable to convey your message quickly and confidently in an email, you may be better off picking up the phone.
Another important thing to remember is to keep the email chain pure. If you’re talking about invoice XYZ, then ensure the email chain is only about email XYZ. If the customer starts asking you about other invoices over the course of the email conversation, or if you have other topics to discuss, begin a new email message with the appropriate subject. This will help you work toward specific goals and make tracking communications much easier in case of a dispute, miscommunication, etc.
As with any process, efficiency is key when it comes to communicating with customers about the status of their account. Writing up an email can take time if you’re always starting from scratch and sending the right message at the right time plays an important part in getting paid; so we suggest you use templates. While you may need to make adjustments to the details about due dates, amount owed, etc., the language and formatting you’ve decided upon will already be there so you don’t have to nit-pick about every little detail before sending out an email. This will allow you to communicate consistently and confidently, while still having plenty of time to complete other tasks.
To help you get up and running with this practice even faster, we’ve put together sample email/letter templates and call scripts that cover many different topics related in accounts receivable from the beginning to the end of the process. Now you don’t even have to waste time creating them yourself, just download ours and modify them however you’d like. You can even take it a step further and automate your invoice collection emails with business debt collection software.
Keep these email best practices in mind to facilitate simple, straightforward communication.
Ready to learn more? Visit the Anytime Collect Resource Center where you can watch videos of how the software works, read case studies, learn about the automation features, pick up accounts receivable best practices, and more. Click here to get started.