How to Ask for Late Payments from Your Customer

You deliver quality work as promised, create your invoice, send it over and then wait. Soon, the wait for your payment goes from days to weeks or probably even in months. At that point you start wondering how to send a payment reminder professionally. 

Faced with this dilemma, two thoughts run through your mind; ignore the client and hope they remember or send a really harsh reminder so they get the message. Of course, both won’t be in your best interest. So how do you strike that balance? And make sure your reminder is professional, polite and strong enough to get you paid.

We’ll show you exactly how to send a payment reminder that doesn’t make you feel awkward and gets the job done. 

What is the impact of customers not paying invoices on time?

Studies have shown about 82% of small businesses fail due to poor cash flow management. That is a huge and disturbing number for any business owner or freelancer.

Numbers speak louder

Small businesses that have clients who are not paying one time have struggled in many ways. Below is a sneak peek of how late payments affects the growth of most small startups/businesses:

  • 79% of business owners can’t pay their own salary
  • 23% can’t afford to hire new employees
  • 20% stop marketing campaigns
  • 18% forego employee bonuses and raises
  • 23% can’t afford to buy new equipment
  • 17% can’t afford more inventory

As you can see, small businesses go through a lot when customers fail to pay on time or refuse to pay at all. Fortunately, there is a professional way to address late payment, send payment reminders.

Let’s seehow you can do this.

Don’t feel intimidated to send payment reminders


Some business owners often find it difficult to send payment reminders. To them, it is unprofessional to do so. While they may support their reasons, not sending make things even worse, especially when customers decide to vanish without paying. If they disappear, you have no one else to blame, and you allow them to repeat that in the future.

To prevent such an annoying behavior from occurring again, always remind your customers to clear outstanding balances. An excellent invoicing software can help send reminders to your customers.

Set your terms and conditions early

terms and condition

If you feel intimidated to keep on sending payment reminders, then consider crafting terms and conditions to be adhered to. Just come up with a set of terms and conditions that will guide you in case of late payment. That way, you will feel motivated to send those reminders.

Another way to deal with this is to ask a percentage upfront. Upfront payments are a huge plus as they help offset a fraction of the damage triggered by late payment.

Your late payment policy can also include fees charged for late payments. For example, you can charge a 5% late payment fee after 30 to 60 days. As you set these fees, make sure also to consider your customers. You don’t want to scare them away because of the high additional fees. Notifying them of such fees will help nurture a good relationship.

How to prevent late payments 

You don’t want to be constantly chasing down clients because of late payments. You need to design a strategy that shields from late payments and ensures your cash flow runs smoothly. 

Here are a few tips you can start using today. 

  • Create and sign payment terms. Mentioned earlier. A good way to scare off the late payment monsters is having contracts and agreements in place.This agreement should contain detailed expectations of payment plans. For example, the due date should be clearly stated. Also, showcase your preferred payment method and when you’d send an invoice.
  • State fees or interest for late payments. This will definitely prevent clients from making late payments. However, it’s important to let your clients know beforehand. It should be clearly stated in your contracts or agreement. 
  • Automate your payment reminders. Sometimes you might forget to send a payment reminder to your clients. Or you might send one at the wrong date. To prevent this, schedule and automate your payment reminder emails so each gets sent at the right time. After doing this, you simply have to check your inbox for replies or payments. 
  • Boost your invoicing strategy. A great invoicing process increases your chances of getting paid. Make sure to develop one that fits your business and situation.

5 Things to include in your payment reminder emails.

Before we dive into the templates, your emails should contain a few key details. It’s important to mention any information needed to make the payment process smooth. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Grab attention with the subject line. Your client’s inbox is probably filled with tons of emails. That’s why it’s important you write a subject line that’s concise and precise. This way the client quickly understands who it’s from and the purpose of the email. Mention your company/contact name in the subject line too.
  2. All necessary information. It’s crucial to present any information your client will need. This includes things like order details and payment history. You should also add your contact details at the end of each email.
  3. Invoice details. The main info on the invoice should mention the date. This could be a past due date or an upcoming one. Ideally, you’ll start sending payment reminders a few days before the due date. This ensures your client has enough time to pay up.
  4. State your preferred payment method. This part is vital because it makes things easier for the client. Specify (and attach a link where applicable) your preferred option for receiving payments. It could be cash, check, mobile payments, credit card etc. Now, it’s time to jump right into the templates.

Create payment reminder templates for your customers

Reminder templates help you in sending payment reminders on time. They also make it easier to send reminders before the due date and after the due date. Let’s see how you can create these templates:

Before the invoice due date

To prevent late payment and fuel your business growth, it is crucial to notify your customers in advance so that payments arrive promptly. For example, you can notify them a week earlier. A template that will let you do that is worth crafting.

You can email or SMS your customers. Whether you decided to send payment reminders via text or email, make sure your notifications have the following:

  • A clear subject line stating what the email is about
  • A friendly opening line
  • State the purpose of the reminder in a friendly way. Include the amount, due date, and invoice number.
  • Inquire about the progress of the invoice
  • Include a link or copy of the invoice for fast payment

Below is an example of an email that you can use. Feel free to edit and use it.


(Business Name): Invoice #### for (Service /Product )


Hi {Customer’s Name}

I hope all is well since the last time we spoke.

Just wanted to touch base with you concerning the outstanding invoice for (invoice amount), which is due on {due date}.

It would be happy if you can confirm that everything is on schedule for payment. Also, wanted to make sure you evade a late payment fee of (late payment charge) that starts after (date).

I’ve added a link/attachment for your review.

Let me know if you have any concerns or questions.


(Your Name)


Note: Always make sure to write a friendly and light reminder. Don’t also forget to keep in short and clear. With such a reminder, it will be easier to get a quick reply.

When the invoice is a few days late

In case you don’t receive payment on time, you still have to send reminders. This time you can be a bit firmer but remember to maintain a professional tone. Here are a few things to include:

  • Everything from the first email
  • Inquire about ETA for payment
  • Attachment or link of the invoice
  • Reminder of payment terms and late fees

As you draft the reminder, make sure to put more emphasis on the past due date, future penalties, and late fees.  Have a look at the example below for more information.


(Business name): Invoice ### Payment Reminder


Hi (customer’s name)

I hope you are doing well.

I’m writing to let you that we are to receive payment on invoice (invoice number) for the amount of (initial invoice amount), which was due (due date). A late fee was included on (past due date) in the amount of {fee amount}, changing the amount to (new amount).

We kindly request that you confirm an ETA for the past due payment and late fee. If payment is not received before {next late fee increase date}, an extra (late fee) will be charged.

We’re hoping this can be circumvented. Please reach us at your earliest convenience so we can solve this matter.

Kind Regards,

(Your Name)

When payment is overdue

Send this reminder once the customer fails to pay within the days stated in your policy. If you have allowed them 30 to 60 days, then it is ok to send this email after those days have elapsed.

This will be the last communication before escalating the matter to a collection agent or taking legal actions. This correspondence emphasis on everything from the previous emails or messages but with the addition of:

  • What will happen next
  • How overdue the payment is

View the example below for information:


{Business name}: Invoice #### is PAST DUE


Hi {customer’s name}

I hope this email finds you and you are doing well.

We have yet to receive payment for the invoice (invoice number) in the amount of {amount with late fees}, which was initially due on (due date).

The recent invoice amount is {invoice amount with late fees} and is {days overdue} days past due. The lateness of this payment is becoming difficult for us, so please let us know when payment will be made since this is now a pressing issue.

If we have still not received your payment by {final date}, we will be forced to forward this invoice to our legal team.

Kind Regards,

{Your Name}


It is effortless to automate your payment reminders. Just get a good invoicing software, click here for a free trial. Fortunately, there are several options in the market to consider.

It is that effortless to ask for late payments from your customers. How do you handle late payments? We would be grateful to hear from you. 

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