How to Ask for a Payment Professionally

Cash flow is critical to business success. In fact, one study of failed businesses found that the majority — 82% — blamed a lack of cash flow as their ultimate downfall. 

Knowing how to ask for payment professionally and successfully collecting payments are vital to staying afloat.

Here, we’ll provide examples of how to ask for payments, with email templates for payment reminders and late payment notifications. Plus, we’ll share tips for preventing late payments in the first place and steps to take if a customer doesn’t pay on time. 

Examples of how to ask for payment: templates

Here are some professional email templates and SMS templates for collecting customer payments. 

Invoice email templates: Sample subject lines

If the payment is not overdue and this is the first email you’re sending, here are some appropriate subject lines that freelancers and small business owners can use.

  • Important billing notice
  • Please act now
  • Reminder – upcoming payment due in X days
  • Amount due now
  • Friendly reminder – invoice email
  • Payment deadline approaching
  • Payment request email
  • Payment reminder email
  • Due today
  • Invoice due date approaching

If this is a follow-up email for a late payment, here are some appropriate subject lines small business owners can use before sending customers to a collection agency.

  • Your payment is past due
  • Overdue notice / overdue invoice
  • Late payment reminder
  • Reminder – late payment notification

Invoice email templates: Body copy

#1: First email

Send this email before the invoice due date.

Dear [customer name / client name],

This is a friendly reminder that your payment is due soon.

Your bill details:

Invoice number: [xxx]

Amount due: [$x.xx]

Payment deadline: Please pay by [date]

[Pay Online]

[Your company’s payment terms]

Payment methods accepted: [List payment options, such as credit card, PayPal, etc.]

Thanks for choosing [company name]!

Questions? Feel free to give us a phone call at [phone number]

#2: Follow-up email

Send this email after the invoice due date and before sending customers to a debt collection agency. 

Dear [customer name / client name],

We would like to inform you that your bill for the services performed on [service date] is past due.

This is a friendly reminder that you can pay your bill online here.

According to our records, the following balance is currently due: [$x.xx]

Payment deadline has passed: [Original payment deadline]

This is the late payment fee: [Late fees charged]

[Your company’s payment terms]

Payment methods accepted: [List payment options, such as credit card, PayPal, etc.]

Thanks for choosing [company name]!

Questions? Feel free to give us a phone call at [phone number]

#3: Follow-up email for freelancers for unpaid invoices

Dear [client’s name],

I am sending a polite reminder that I requested payment for a total amount of [$x.xx] on [date]. 

Here’s a copy of the invoice I sent. As you can see, the payment due date has passed. Please follow up with the payment for the amount due at your earliest convenience. 

All future work will be paused until this overdue invoice is paid.

A late payment fee of [$x.xx] has been added to the original invoice for this outstanding payment.

Kind regards,

[Your name]

Following up on late payments: FAQs

Which communication methods should you use to ask for a late payment?

Use the same communication methods you use to communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis:

  • Phone calls
  • SMS messages
  • Email campaigns
  • Direct mail

What should you do if a customer doesn’t pay on time?

If a payment deadline has passed, you can take some initial actions.

  • Stop all current and future work until you receive a payment.
  • Send follow-up notifications and late payment reminders using the email templates above.
  • If you still don’t hear back from the client, discuss your options with a lawyer.
  • Consider working with a debt collection agency to get the overdue payment paid.

How much time should you wait before following up on an overdue payment?

Don’t wait to send a late payment reminder. Such delays can affect your cash flow and business viability. Instead, follow up with a phone call, email or text the next day after the original payment due date.

If necessary, continue checking in:

  • One to two weeks after the payment due date
  • 30, 60 and 90 days after the original payment due date

If a customer is more than 90 days late, consider working with a debt collection agency to recoup the late payment. 

Tips for preventing late payments in the first place

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends taking the following measures to avoid late payments and non-paying customers:

  • Evaluate prospects before doing business with them
  • Discuss payment terms upfront, including outlining:
    • The total payment amount
    • Accepted payment methods
    • The payment due date
    • Potential late fees
  • Send invoices right away
  • Accept payments online to make it easier for clients via apps like PayPal
  • Send email invoice reminders and follow-up notifications, giving customers the benefit of the doubt they forgot about or missed the first email

How Broadly can make receiving online payments easier

Broadly offers convenient invoicing software for small business owners. Our platform, Payments, makes it simple to create and send online payment requests via the Broadly invoicing app.

Some of our top functionality and invoicing features include:

  • Professional invoice templates sent via SMS or email
  • Flexible payment methods and options, including credit cards and debit cards
  • Automated customer review requests sent in real-time after invoice payments are received to generate positive reviews for your small business
  • Integrations with other tools, including accounting software like Quickbooks Online 

Schedule a demo today to see what Broadly can do for you!