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Even if the client asks that you complete an assignment form, you should also submit an invoice. Create your own standard invoice or use an invoice from a software program. Be sure to assign a unique invoice number to every invoice you send. Clearly list all agreed-upon fees, payment terms, due dates, description of services rendered, and reference to your contract or agreement. Send the invoice to your client as soon as your assignment is complete. Include a self-addressed return envelope, to make their payment processing even easier. Tip #2 Track Your Receivables Keep track of all your receivables and check your payment due dates on a regular basis. This will enable you to follow up quickly on accounts that become delinquent. One easy way to stay on top of outstanding invoices is to keep a special folder marked "Unpaid Invoices." Make a photocopy of every invoice you send out and place in this folder. When payment is received, remove the copy of the paid invoice from your folder. Follow up immediately with companies who are late paying - do not just wait and hope that payment will arrive. Tip #3 Maintain a Short Collection Cycle As soon as a payment becomes past due, initiate your collection process. Stick to a well-managed, short collection cycle. Statistics have shown that the shorter your own personal debt collection process is, the more funds you should be able to secure. Tip #4 Stay Professional Always be polite, reasonable, and professional when communicating with debtors. Don't swear, don't raise your voice, and don't make nasty comments. You may be justifiably angry, but it is not permissible to harass or threaten anyone. Many states have created laws that make it illegal to do so. Remember: Don't use obscene language or profanities. Don't threaten or use physical force against anyone. Don't make phone calls at unreasonable hours. Don't attempt to annoy someone by causing the phone to ring continuously or repeatedly. Don't attempt to communicate with the debtor unreasonably often. Don't threaten to have someone arrested. Don't threaten to sue or send the account to a collection agency if you don't really intend to follow through. Tip #5 Be Prepared Prior to making a phone call to the delinquent company, take a few minutes to review your files. This will refresh your memory and make it easier to discuss the related assignment. Also be sure you have all historical information right in front of you (contract or agreement, invoice, letters, e-mails, notes from previous discussions, promises made/broken), so you can quickly refer to it if needed. Tip #6 Control the Conversation Keep your conversation with the debtor focused. Do not let the client side-track or stall you with rambling excuses or long stories. Do not allow yourself to lose sight of your objective, which is to obtain a commitment to pay, specify a date when you can pick up a check or when a check will be sent to you, and concur with the amount to be paid. Tip #7 Keep It Specific Don't allow the debtor to end a discussion with open-ended statements such as, "I'll see what I can do," or "I'll call you next week." Every discussion should contain resolution - agreement to pay in full, a negotiated settlement, a specific date by which payment will be made, a check number, etc. Tip #8 Maintain Detailed Records Make sure that you keep very detailed records of your efforts to communicate with the company. Letters: Keep a photocopy or online copy of every letter you send. Note the date and method by which you sent it. Remember to file all return receipts for letters you've send via certified mail. Stapling them to a copy of the letter is a good way to keep track of which receipt belongs with which letter, and is likely to help prevent the small receipt from getting lost in the shuffle. Phone Calls: Write down the phone conversations you have - including date, time, and name of person you spoke with - noting every excuse, promise, and other information provided. This will ensure that you know exactly what was said previously if you write or call in the future. It will also be extremely helpful if you decide to pursue the debtor through a collection agency or lawsuit. Tip #9 Limit Your Losses Don't take on new signings for a company with a delinquent account. If they have not paid for a previous assignment, it is possible they will not pay for subsequent signings. Limit your losses by not accepting any more assignments from them until they pay up. Tip #10 Contact the NNA If your personal collection process does not yield payment, and/or you have turned a debtor over to a professional collection agency, be sure to contact the NNA hotline so that a record of the non-payment issue can be added to our files. This will allow us to safeguard the integrity of the Notary Signing Agent Section "Company Directory" by removing companies with a history of non-payment to our Notary Signing Agents. Call us toll free at (888) 876-0827.