Step 2: Understand the other party’s ‘willingness’ to pay
The second step to navigating, and getting paid on, an outstanding invoice or account is to understand the other party’s willingness to pay. Do they want to pay and acknowledge the debt or are they completely unwilling to pay. In addition, are they responsive and communicative during the process?
If the other party truly wants to pay the debt but does not have the funds there are some creative ways to try and make that happen if they have other assets or future contracts that they may be working on. However, if they have no intention to pay the debt at all then an entirely different approach is necessary to secure and collect on your outstanding debt.
If they do not intend to pay the balance willingly, and they have the ability to satisfy the debt, assuming the debt is valid, then it is time to start to find out how to prioritize your invoice in their payables. If it was a one-time contract and this is not an ongoing client then you may have to try to stop funds from the top (if this is a flow down contract and the party owing you is before you in the contract funds disbursements) with proper notices and intent to lien property or mineral rights (if the project is construction or oil and gas related). In addition with some creative research you can find out who they bank with and who they have credit lines with (have they paid you by check before, or wired you money – this will be one of their sources). There are many things that can be done in different situations and in different industries in order to secure a debt from an unwilling party that do not include lengthy and costly litigation.