The customer position is the uncashed turnover. In France it represents about 40% of the assets of a company or 20% of its annual turnover (about 2 months). One French company in four encounters economic difficulties due to late payment. That is why it is important to understand this issue well in order to adopt the best practices according to the different phases: prevention, pre-contentious, amicable recovery or judicial recovery.


Causes of customer-related late payment

Late payment is a statement of fact. It has a financial impact on businesses. Among the reasons for unpaid customer are the following reasons:

  • Oblivion
  • The processes of validation of long and complex invoices (common within major groups or administrations…)
  • Disputes or disagreements about the nature, purpose or volume of the goods sold or the services performed. More than 70% of late payments have a cause related to a dispute. Example: quality of invoices, missing supporting documents, non-compliant goods, etc.
    • Bad faith
    • Financial difficulty or cash flow problem
  • ….

Late payment: causes related to the supplier company

On the part of the supplier company, the reasons for late payment are also multiple:

  • Incorrect invoices and delivery error
  • Lack of time or resources dedicated to monitoring and claiming payments
  • Lack of centralized information and lack of visibility on unpaid invoices
  • Fear of claiming in order to preserve the relationship with customers
  • Lack of awareness of formal and litigation procedures for handling unpaid invoices
The main causes of the delay in payment related to the supplier company
28% Trade process
37% Invoicing process
16% Collection process
37% Company malfunction

The processes to be put in place in a healthy cash culture


The late payment of an invoice is a frequently encountered challenge. To best manage this risk while preserving the customer relationship, business leaders and decision-makers need to put in place rigorous internal processes.


Three main categories of processes: main themes
Maintain reliable and up-to-date customer information


  • Legal data: K-bis extract, social capital, date of creation
  • Financial data: the creditworthiness of a customer can change rapidly, so it is essential to update this information regularly.
Accurately define the conditions for invoicing and settlement
  • Determine a clear outstanding policy
  • Categorize by paying profile: isolate bad payers from vouchers, differentiate by size of business
  • Invoicing Quickly
  • Monitoring the payment deadlines for invoices
  • Request guarantees
    • The bail
    • The pledge
    • The down payment
  • Know the useful commercial clauses
  • Limiting the time to claim clients
  • Arbitration clause with appointment of arbitrator
  • Jurisdiction clause
  • Cover the risk of non-payment (credit insurance – which may be associated with a factoring company)
Write contract, accounting and commercial documents correctly
  • Define precisely the General Terms and Conditions of Sale (GTC) with a clear indication of the time frame for payment of invoices, retention of ownership and late payment penalties
  • Write legible invoices containing all the necessary information
  • Sign order form, quote and delivery note