No one likes having to chase after clients for payments, but it’s a reality for many home service providers. Clients can miss payments for a variety of reasons. Most of them are simple oversights, but you still need to get paid for the work you’ve done.

While following up about overdue payments can feel awkward and uncomfortable, it doesn’t always have to be. In this guide, we’ll walk you through four polite, professional, and pointed templates that you can use for past due invoices.

How to ask for payment professionally

Payment reminder emails and text messages are the most polite and professional way to remind clients that their invoices are approaching or have passed a deadline.

If you’re worried about how to politely remind someone to pay you, use one of our templates below. That way, you can feel confident sending a reminder that is polite, consistent, and correct.

With each email or text message, you should include a copy of the invoice in question so that your clients know exactly which services they owe you for.

No matter how you communicate with your clients about late payments, be professional and polite, and don’t let your emotions get the better of you. If you feel like you might respond to a message rudely or aggressively, take a step back and reply after you’ve had a chance to calm down.

READ MORE: How to collect payment from customers

Overdue payment reminder templates for professional text messages and emails

When sending an overdue payment reminder to a client, you have four common times to choose from:

  • On the payment due date referenced in your invoice
  • One day after the due date referenced in your invoice
  • Three to seven days after the due date referenced in your invoice
  • More than 14 days after the invoice due date

It’s up to you if you want to send just one reminder after a certain timeframe (i.e. you only send a reminder three to seven days after the original due date). Or, you can schedule letters to go out on the due date, the day after, and so on, until payment is received.

1. On the invoice due date

Here’s a text or email template that you can use to send to clients who haven’t paid by the due date provided on their invoice. In this first email, keep your tone friendly, polite, and straightforward, and make sure to include important information like the amount due, the invoice number, and how to pay it.

The point of this email is to be a simple, professional invoice follow-up. The client isn’t actually late, but it doesn’t hurt to give them a gentle nudge in case they forgot to make a payment earlier or have a question about the invoice they’ve been meaning to ask.

READ MORE: Use our free invoice template

2. One day after the invoice due date

This template is for clients who missed their due date by a day. At this point, they are officially behind, but not by much.

Keep your message professional, but this time, consider including additional information that may help them to make a payment, like a copy of the full invoice and how to get in touch with you. A simple question or technical issue may be the only thing holding them up.

If you charge interest on overdue invoices after a specific time period, now’s the time to bring it up as well. If the non-payment wasn’t due to an oversight, future interest charges or late fees may help motivate your client to make a payment sooner rather than later.

3. Within a week of the invoice due date

Here’s a template you can use if a client is up to a week late in making a payment. This client is on the verge of being problematic. Although their lack of payment could still be a matter of forgetfulness or oversight, non-payment a week after the due date can be a red flag.

READ MORE: How unpaid invoices impact your cash flow (and how to deal with them)

If you’ve sent other outstanding payment letters before this one and they haven’t responded, it’s time to switch up the tone and go for a more direct approach.

4. 14+ days after the invoice due date

When a client is more than two weeks past due, your payment reminder letter becomes more of a collection letter. By now, you’ve likely reached out more than once to remind a client to pay the invoice without receiving a response, which can be frustrating. It’s still important to keep your messaging professional and to the point.

The purpose of this letter is to get the client to respond, either by reaching out to you to offer an explanation or by paying off the invoice. Starting a dialogue can be helpful as it gives you insight into why payment has not been made, when you can expect it, and whether you need to offer a payment plan for the overdue amount.

Here’s a collection letter template that you can use for clients who are past due by two weeks or more:

What should I include in invoice reminders?

If you make your own payment reminder email templates, be sure to include:

  • A copy of the invoice including the invoice number, amount due, and due date
  • Contact information, such as your company phone number and office email address
  • Your preferred payment methods
  • Details about any interest charges or late fees that may be applied
  • A polite sign-off, like thanks or warm regards

How can I send a payment reminder to a client?

Ideally, you want to send past due invoice notices via the same method you used to communicate with the client initially. But, when payments start to get really behind, it’s fair game to use any methods available.

The most common ways to send overdue invoice letters include:

  • Email
  • Text
  • Phone
  • Mail

Whenever possible, use email as it will provide you with an electronic paper trail, detailing when your messages were sent, what they said, and which address they were sent to.

If emails don’t get a response, try supplementing them with a text, phone call, or even mailing a printed copy to the address you have on file.

You want to ensure that your clients are receiving your invoices and payment reminders and that they aren’t being sent to the wrong address. Using multiple methods can help you to reach a client.

Just make sure not to go overboard by sending too many messages at once. For example, a message sent on the payment due date doesn’t need to be supplemented with a phone call or text message. Whereas a message for a payment that’s more than two weeks past due may need to be mailed and texted in order to ensure it’s been received.

What if payment request emails for overdue invoices don’t work?

If payment reminders don’t work, you have two options: you can either accept the loss and move on, or you can pursue the debt in small claims court.

Which you choose depends on the amount of the debt and the limits and requirements surrounding small claims court in your city and state. It’s important to consider that if you lose your case in small claims court, you may be out of pocket for not just the overdue payment, but your legal fees and those of your client as well.

You will also need proof to support your claim, such as a signed contract, the original invoice, and copies of any communication you had with the client, such as emails, text messages, and any other relevant documents.

If the debt isn’t large enough to chase after, or it doesn’t qualify for small claims court where you live, think about how you can encourage your clients to make more timely payments in the future.

READ MORE: 5 important steps to take when a client won’t pay for services

Preventing past due invoices in your service business

The best way to avoid late payments is to set yourself up for success before you even invoice a client. Clearly outline payment details in your invoices and develop a payment reminder strategy early on.

Using Jobber’s invoicing software, you can set payment reminders to automatically be sent out on any overdue invoice, whether they’re behind by a day or a week.

You can even customize your message to include one of the templates we shared above. That means that Jobber takes on the administrative work of remembering who to send a payment reminder to and when giving you more time to focus on bringing in new clients and getting jobs done.

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This post was originally published in January 2021. It was last updated on August 16, 2021.