Payment Delays: Strategies to Adopt for International Transactions

Published on 6 December 2023 in Cash management

Addressing foreign invoice reminders requires a distinct strategic approach compared to domestic unpaid bills. Avoiding the common mistake of handling international debts conventionally is crucial. Here are some best practices to implement.

Reminders Abroad: Best Practices

Establish a rigorous methodology for international reminders by creating a gradual schedule with precise intervals. To prevent harassment, follow an organized reminder example for foreign transactions:

  • Day 15 (J+15): Send a formal email in English to inform the client of the payment delay on the invoice, including billing and payment details.
  • Day 30 (J+30): Send a follow-up email, reiterating payment terms, posing questions about the reasons for the delay, providing a deadline for settlement, and recalling rules applicable in your country or as per the contract.
  • Day 40 (deadline): Make a phone call, considering time zone differences. Stay factual, avoid emotional or threatening language, and understand the client's obstacles. If English is a barrier, consider involving a company to handle the reminder for you.
  • Day 60 (J+60): Sending a formal notice with acknowledgment of receipt. At this stage, it is strongly recommended to use an international debt collection agency located in the country of the unpaid invoice. To do this, contact Sekundi; we are able to handle debt collection regardless of your debtor's country.

These reminders apply if there is no response from the debtor, if the client promises payment but fails to follow through, or if an agreement cannot be reached. Avoid the trap of automatic, impersonal reminders in your language, especially if the client has proposed a solution. Multichannel reminders have a higher success rate, and phone calls yield positive results for maintaining business relations.

Optimizing Payment Reminders

Understanding cultural nuances, local payment timelines, and payment habits is crucial for optimizing reminders.

Understanding Your Debtor's Issue

Several reasons may explain a client's payment delay. If the client is located abroad, they might be unaware of payment timelines in your country, and payment habits may differ. It's essential to understand what is causing the delay. Given the potential language barrier, communicating in the client's language or, alternatively, in English is strongly recommended.

Finding Solutions to Facilitate Payment

If you handle reminders yourself, determine what you are willing to accept or propose to facilitate your debtor's payment. For international payments, consider factors like the processing time for international transfers and potential restrictions on certain countries imposed by banks. Offer various payment methods and potentially flexible terms (installment payments). While checks may still be used in France, it may not be the case in Europe.

Engaging Professionals in Debt Collection

It's crucial to understand that foreign payment delays should never be taken lightly. Some take advantage of the distance and language barrier to avoid settling their bills. Therefore, reminders abroad must be executed rigorously. Engaging a debt collection professional in the debtor's country ensures better comprehension and, consequently, improved results. Some entities specialize in recovering debts with a success-based payment structure to save you from fruitless expenses.

The diversification of communication channels, flexibility in payment solutions, and collaboration with debt collection professionals, such as the Sekundi network spanning over 50 countries, are indispensable strategies. By adopting these practices, businesses can not only increase their chances of international debt recovery but also maintain robust global business relationships.

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