What are Delayed Payments?

What are Delayed Payments?

Delayed Payment Definition

A delayed payment happens when a business pays its invoice later than the agreed-upon due date with another business. This delay can happen for several reasons, such as cash flow problems, product or service quality disputes, or simply oversight. 

Receiving a delayed payment can squeeze your cash flow, making it easier to track financial statements, pay your suppliers, or invest in growth opportunities.

How a Delayed Payment Happens

Here's how it typically goes down: You sell a product or provide a service to another business, and you send them an invoice with terms that specify when the payment is due, often 30, 60, or 90 days after the invoice date. If the other business doesn't pay on time, that's a delayed payment.

Dealing with delayed payments requires communication and follow-up. You might need to send reminders, negotiate payment terms, or, in extreme cases, seek legal action to get paid. To protect your business from the impact of delayed payments, you might set up strategies like charging late fees, conducting credit checks before offering payment terms to new customers or requiring deposits upfront.

Remember, in B2B transactions, maintaining positive relationships is critical, so when addressing delayed payments, aim for solutions that keep the business relationship healthy and productive.

Reasons a Delayed Payment Occurs

In B2B finance, delayed payments can happen for various reasons, affecting your business's cash flow and operations. Here's why you might encounter delayed payments:

  • Cash Flow Issues: The other business might be experiencing its funds-related problems. They're waiting on customer payments and don't have the cash to pay you on time.
  • Disputes Over Goods or Services: Sometimes, a delayed payment arises because the other company is unsatisfied with the goods or services. They might claim that what was delivered didn't meet the agreed specifications or quality standards.
  • Invoice Errors: A simple mistake on an invoice, like the wrong amount or billing details, can cause a delay. The other business might hold payment until these errors are corrected, leading to back-and-forth communication to resolve the issue.
  • Administrative Overlook: Payments can be delayed because of simple oversight. The invoice might have been misplaced, or the person responsible for processing payments could be out of the office, causing delays.
  • Intentional Delay Tactics: Sometimes, a business might intentionally delay payment to manage its cash flow better. They prioritize their payments based on their financial strategy, which might not align with your payment terms.
  • Delayed Capture: There can be delays in the payment processing, such as longer times for transactions or issues with international payments. These banking delays are often out of both parties' control.
  • Contractual Misunderstandings: Misunderstandings about payment terms in the contract can lead to delays. One party might interpret the terms differently, leading to confusion about due dates or conditions for payment.

Impact of Delayed Payment

When you face delayed payments in B2B finance, it impacts your business in several ways. Here's how it can affect you:

  • Cash Flow Problems: Delayed payments tighten your cash flow. This means you might not have enough money to cover your expenses, like paying your suppliers, employees, or rent. Managing your cash flow becomes a juggling act, where you're constantly trying to ensure there's enough money coming in to match what's going out.
  • Strained Business Relationships: Chasing late payments can strain your relationships with clients. Even though you're in the right to ask for timely payment, the process can cause tension. Having these relationships strong for future business would be best, so it's a delicate balance to maintain.
  • Increased Administrative Costs: Dealing with delayed payments requires extra work. You spend more time sending reminders, negotiating, and possibly dealing with collection agencies or legal processes. This additional work translates into higher administrative costs.
  • Impact on Credit Rating: If delayed payments affect your ability to pay your own bills on time, your business's credit rating could suffer. A lower credit rating makes it more difficult and expensive to get loans or credit in the future.
  • Opportunity Costs: The time and resources you spend managing delayed payments are time and resources you can't invest elsewhere. Whether it's growing your business, improving your products, or just focusing on current projects, delayed payments divert your attention and limit what you can achieve.
  • Stress and Uncertainty: On a more personal level, dealing with delayed payments can be stressful. The uncertainty of when or if you'll get paid adds to the challenge of running a business, affecting your peace of mind and possibly even your business decisions.

Best Practices to Deal with a Delayed Payment

Dealing with a delayed payment in B2B finance requires a strategic and proactive approach. Here’s how you can tackle this issue effectively:

  • Review the Payment Terms: Start by checking the payment terms on the invoice and contract. Ensure you understand when the payment was due and confirm that the delay breaches these terms.
  • Send a Polite Reminder: Reach out to your client with a friendly reminder about the overdue payment. A simple email or call can prompt them to process the payment, especially if the delay was due to an oversight or administrative error.
  • Communicate Clearly: If the first reminder doesn’t work, initiate a conversation to discuss the payment delay. Ask for any issues with the invoice or the product/service provided. Clear communication can often resolve misunderstandings or disputes, causing the delay.
  • Negotiate Payment Schedule: If the client is facing cash flow issues, consider negotiating a payment plan that allows them to pay in installments (monthly payment). This approach can help maintain a good relationship while ensuring you eventually receive the payment.
  • Document All Communications: Keep a record of all communications with the client regarding the delayed payment. This documentation can be crucial if the situation escalates and you need to take further action with the additional information.
  • Late Payment Fee: If your contract allows for late payment interest, inform your client that these will be applied. The possibility of a late fee can motivate prompt payment.
  • Seek Legal Advice: If the payment is overdue and negotiations have failed with the payer, seek legal advice. A lawyer can guide you on the next steps, including formal debt collection procedures or legal action.
  • Use a Collection Agency: You might consider hiring a collection agency as a last resort. They specialize in recovering overdue payments but will take a percentage of the collected amount as their fee.
  • Review Your Credit Policies: Review your credit policy and procedure after dealing with a delayed payment. Consider conducting credit checks on new clients, adjusting your payment terms (net 30 day, 60 day, 90 day), or requiring deposits to mitigate future risks.
Growfin Book a Demo

Don't miss these stories: