We recently wrote a blog about the most common excuses given by late payers for late payment of invoices.  From bare-faced lies to complete avoidance of calls and stalling tactics, most businesses, and debt collection agencies, have been told that ‘your cheque was sent last week’ or ‘we never received your invoice’ at some time or another.

But what are the real reasons behind late payments?

Intrum Justitia, the European organisation behind the annual survey that tracks trends in payment behaviour throughout the EU, recently published its latest findings from surveying over 10,000 business in over 31 states.  One specific area focused on the real reasons behind late payment of invoices – and the effect these delays have on business survival and the economy as a whole.  Their findings revealed the real reasons behind the excuses:

  • Unsurprisingly, the leading reason for late payment was due to ‘debtors having financial problems’ of their own.  It becomes a vicious circle.  The later businesses pay their suppliers, the more those creditors have to squeeze their suppliers to manage their cash flow – and so on. 
  • Intentional late payment’ came a close second as one of the top real reasons for tardy settlement of invoices.  Companies set their own internal payment terms for paying invoices, regardless of supplier credit terms, to manage their own cash flow.
  • Administrative inefficiency’ came in third as a cause for late payment in business, which can be the most frustrating for suppliers as it can be easily rectified.
  • Interestingly, ‘disputes’ came in fourth.  As a common stalling tactic, these findings certainly demonstrate how important it is to gather as much detail about the dispute as quickly as possible to flush the real queries from the excuses as real disputes put a hold on payment terms or re-set them back to the start.

As a business, what can you do to avoid being a victim of these delays?

Fortunately, you can do a great deal to protect yourself from debtors simply by setting the right payment terms (and expectations) at the beginning of your customer relationship, and by staying on top of admin yourself – specifically with regards to maintaining up-to-date customer information, regular contact and timely communications.

You can read more about debt collection processes here or contact the experts at renowned debt collection agency P&J Debt Collection Services.