Unpaid contractors urged to ‘check, chase, choose’

‘Check, Chase and Choose’ is the debut advice of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) to tiny suppliers left out-of-pocket by big clients who aren’t paying.

‘Check’ because clients will not necessarily inform suppliers of “something wrong” with their invoices -- an age-old cause of payment being held up.

‘Chase’ because having determined that the invoice was sent to the correct person,  contracted suppliers can then start the third stage of trying to receive payment.

“Have you called or emailed to say payment is now overdue?” said the commissioner, beginning a checklist of questions to help contractors pursue the outstanding invoice.

“Have you talked to the company about steps you can take, like charging interest or stopping supply? Have you reminded them that you can take further action?”

It is such further action -- which may include leveraging the late payment legislation -- that suppliers must then ‘Choose’ whether to take.

“Will you gain anything by negotiating a solution with your customer?,” asks the SBC, sounding aware that using the law isn’t always ideal if contractors wish to keep the debtor as a client.

“Are you ready to take action, or do you need more advice?” And finally, he asks, “Have you decided how much time and money you’d be willing to spend to get what you’re owed?”

Despite the importance of assessing the cost of ways to recover the debt, Safe Collections recently told ContractorUK that reputable agencies do not require a fee in advance of retrieving funds.

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