Customers often (legitimately) have to request the following:
- Proof of delivery
- Order numbers
- Copies of invoices
Always see that order numbers are quoted on invoices. Giving a name as an order number can cause delays or non-payment if Mr. X forgets that he ordered the goods, is on leave or has left the business.
Invoicing should be done regularly and not at the end of the month. You could miss the customer’s cut-off date for processing invoices. Where possible, do not rely on the Post Office. It may be costly to deliver invoices but consider the cost of having to wait an extra month for hundreds of thousands of rands.
Statements should also be sent off as soon as possible every month. Some businesses wait to receive them before processing payments.
Documentation is of particular importance when dealing with very large organisations. Look at their purchase orders (or the tender documents/contracts) to see whether they require invoices in triplicate or any other special documentation.
As a general rule the longer the debt remains unpaid, the greater the risk that it will never be paid. Chasing sales at the expense of proper credit evaluation is also risky. Beware unexpected business where the customer is not too concerned about the price - maybe they have run out of credit facilities at other suppliers.