When it comes to invoicing customers, one of the main concerns is how fast the customer pays. This is especially true today because so many of the items facility maintenance distributors sell have thin profit margins. But, what if a customer is slow in paying?

While distributors cannot let payments stretch too long, they also cannot afford to lose customers through an overly aggressive collection process.

Fortunately, according to Michael Wilson, marketing manager for AFFLINK, there are ways to speed up the payment process, minimize collection activity, and enhance customer interaction.

To do this, Wilson suggests the following:  

Bill quickly: The quicker invoices are sent out, the sooner they typically will be processed and paid. "Billing customers at the end of the month, for instance, may make it easier for your accounting department, but it can set back payments as much as 60 days."   

Respond quickly: If invoices are questioned, always respond to a customer's questions as quickly as possible. "Responding in a quick, timely manner instills trust, improves your relationship with the client, and gets your check out that much sooner."  

Invoice accurately: The more a customer has to question or, worse, dispute an invoice, the slower the payment process and the more likely they will scrutinize future invoices. Be sure invoices are clear and accurate, listing all pertinent information.  

Call: If a customer is late paying an invoice, it is usually best to be proactive about it. Reach out to the customer to see if there is a problem. Many times, the customer can't find the invoice or it was blocked if emailed. "It is always best to find out what happened than just wait and wonder."

Wilson also suggests that facility maintenance distributors transfer to Web-based services that smooth out the entire shopping, ordering, and billing process for their clients.

"These services help automate the entire ordering and billing process, which ends confusion and helps get payments processed faster to boot."