Our collection efforts are usually conducted in three stages, with the pressure getting incrementally stronger with each letter. In addition to getting the money, we want to retain the customer's goodwill so we try to give him ample opportunity to save face. Whenever possible, we try to add a touch of creativity or humor, in hopes of attracting attention and getting immediate payment.
In our first letter, we simply inform the customer that the bill is past due, giving pertinent details on invoice dates, numbers and amounts. Next, we send a letter suggesting that the client has no doubt overlooked the payment. The third one is stronger and advances the idea that the customer should not be indifferent to his obligation.
Following are three letters that illustrate our increasing demand for payment:
Dear Dr. Smith: You will note from the attached statement that a number of charges have gone beyond our regular terms. We realize that it is sometimes difficult to process payments for all of your vendors on their exact due dates. But now that you have our monthly statement before you, won't you please put through our overdue items for payment? We appreciate the cooperation you have always given us and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Dear Dr. Smith: Once when Lincoln was poor and hungry, a stranger approached him and requested change for a twenty-dollar bill. Being without a cent, and seeing the irony of the situation, Lincoln confided, "Sorry I can't oblige you stranger, but I thank you for the compliment just the same."
Some of our friends pay us the same compliment that this stranger paid Lincoln. They let their account stand on the books, thinking no doubt that we don't need the money. But we do. You'd be surprised.
Perhaps you simply overlooked our statement. In either event, won't you please give your account the necessary attention, and let us have a check within the week?
Dear Dr. Smith: For some time now, we've been trying to collect on the outstanding balance of your account. We must know your intentions before we go any further.
Collecting long overdue accounts leads to many problems, most of them unpleasant for us and for you. If you'll tell us your situation now, perhaps we can still settle amicably. Certainly we'll do what we can to make it as easy as possible for you.
Please do something TODAY. A check if you can, but some statement of your intentions at the very least. If we don't hear from you, we'll have no choice but to go ahead with legal measures we prefer not to use.