Automating Late Payment Reminders for Swiss Freelancers


As a freelancer in Switzerland, you wear many hats - marketing, sales, service delivery, bookkeeping, and more. One of the most crucial yet often overlooked aspects of running a successful freelance business is managing cash flow. And one of the biggest threats to steady cash flow is late payments from clients.

When invoices go unpaid for weeks or even months, it can create serious financial strain. Freelancers may struggle to cover basic operating expenses, let alone invest in growth. Hours spent chasing down overdue payments could be spent finding new clients or working on billable projects. Repeatedly asking clients for payment can also damage relationships and make it awkward to work together in the future.

Fortunately, there's a solution that can help freelancers get paid faster and avoid the cash flow roller coaster: automating late payment reminders. By scheduling a series of reminders to go out to clients at pre-set intervals after an invoice becomes past due, freelancers can eliminate most of the manual work involved in following up on overdue invoices.
In this article, we'll explore why late payments are such a common problem for freelancers and how much time and money they can cost in the long run. We'll then look at how automated reminders work and walk through best practices for setting them up and maintaining positive client relationships.
Finally, we'll discuss how to handle clients who still don't pay even after multiple reminders and how to be more proactive about getting paid on time.

Why Late Payments Are Such a Problem for Freelancers

Getting paid late is an all too common occurrence for freelancer around the world. A global survey of over 2,000 freelancers by Payoneer found that 31% of respondents had dealt with not getting paid for work they completed. Another report by freelance management platform Xolo found that 37% of freelancers had up to five outstanding invoices at any given time.

For freelancers living invoice to invoice, even one late payment can throw off their entire budget, forcing them to dip into savings or rely on credit to bridge the gap until payment finally comes in. This financial stress takes a real mental and emotional toll. A study by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) found that 43% of freelancers have considered quitting self-employment altogether because of the stress of late payments.

Chasing down overdue invoices also eats up valuable time that could be spent on income-generating activities. Freelancers may spend several hours per week sending follow-up emails, making phone calls, and even meeting clients in person to plead for payment. All of this back-and-forth communication can strain client relationships, making it uncomfortable to continue working together.

There's also an opportunity cost to spending so much time on collections. Every hour spent tracking down late payments is an hour not spent prospecting for new clients, working on paid projects, or developing new service offerings. This can limit a freelancer's earning potential and make it harder to grow their business over time.

How Automated Late Payment Reminders Can Help

Automating late payment reminders is one of the easiest and most effective ways for freelancers to improve their cash flow and save time. Instead of manually sending follow-up emails or making phone calls every time an invoice becomes past due, freelancers can use billing and invoicing software to schedule a series of reminders to go out automatically at pre-set intervals.

For example, a freelancer might configure their billing software to send a friendly reminder email 3 days after an invoice due date, a more direct follow-up 7 days past due, an urgent demand for payment at 14 days late, and a final warning at 30 days late. The specific cadence and wording can be customized based on the freelancer's preferences and client relationships.

The beauty of automated reminders is that they require minimal upfront setup time and then run on autopilot in the background, working to get invoices paid faster. This frees up significant time and mental energy to focus on revenue-generating work rather than chasing payments.

Some key benefits of automating late payment reminders include:

  • Faster payment times: Automated reminders can cut days or even weeks off the time it takes to get paid. Instead of waiting until they have time to manually follow up, freelancers can have reminders go out like clockwork, prompting clients to pay as soon as possible. Data from FreshBooks, a popular invoicing software provider, shows that using automatic late payment reminders cuts down on late payments by 45% on average, improving cash flow.

  • Preserving client relationships: Asking clients for overdue payments can create tension and awkwardness. Automating the process helps depersonalize it. The reminders come from the invoicing software, not the freelancer directly. This makes the follow-up feel more like a standard business practice and less like a personal nag or confrontation, which can help maintain positive client relationships.

  • Better financial forecasting: When freelancers are stuck in a constant cycle of chasing late payments, it's hard to predict when money will actually come in. This makes it difficult to budget and plan ahead. With automated reminders improving payment times, freelancers can have more confidence in their cash flow projections and make informed decisions about things like business investments and their own compensation.

  • Emotional benefits: Worrying about unpaid invoices can be incredibly stressful and demoralizing for freelancers. It can make them second-guess their decision to work independently and even consider throwing in the towel. Knowing that late payment reminders are running in the background can provide tremendous emotional relief and help freelancers feel more in control of their financial destiny.

Setting Up Automated Late Payment Reminders

Getting started with automated payment reminders is easier than most freelancers realize. The key is finding invoicing or billing software that integrates well with your existing systems and offers robust automation features. Here are the key steps:

1. Choose your invoicing software

There are dozens of invoicing tools on the market, from very basic systems to feature-rich platforms. Focus on finding one that integrates with the other software you use to run your business, like your accounting system and project management tools.

Some of the most popular invoicing options for freelancers include:

  • Xero: This cloud-based accounting software offers customizable invoice templates and automated reminders. It also integrates with over 800 third-party apps.

  • Bexio: Designed specifically for Swiss small businesses and freelancers, Bexio offers invoicing, accounting, and more. Its invoicing features include automated late payment reminders.

  • AND.CO: Created by freelancing platform Fiverr, AND.CO offers a suite of tools for independent workers, including customizable invoicing with automated reminders.

2. Set up your reminder schedule

Once you've chosen your invoicing software, it's time to configure your reminder schedule. Most systems allow you to customize when and how often reminders will be sent based on your specific needs.

A typical reminder schedule might look something like this:

Days Past Due Reminder Type
3 Friendly reminder that invoice is past due
7 Firmer reminder requesting immediate payment
14 Urgent demand for payment with clear consequences
30 Final warning before sending invoice to collections

Of course, you can adjust this schedule based on your client relationships and typical payment patterns. The key is striking a balance between following up consistently and not bombarding clients with too many reminders.

3. Craft your reminder messaging

Your invoicing software should allow you to tailor the wording of your payment reminders. While you can stick with the default messaging, customizing your reminders is a chance to reinforce your brand voice and values.

In your first past-due reminder, your tone should be friendly and polite, giving the client the benefit of the doubt that the late payment was a simple oversight. For example:

Hi [Client Name],

I hope you're doing well. I just wanted to reach out because I noticed that invoice #[123] is 3 days past due. No worries if it slipped your mind - I know how busy things can get! When you have a moment, please submit payment or let me know if you have any questions.


[Your Name]

As reminders progress, the tone should get increasingly firm while still remaining professional. By the final reminder, your messaging should clearly state the consequences of continued non-payment. For example:

Hi [Client Name],

This is a final reminder that invoice #[123] is now 30 days past due. Per my payment terms, late payment fees of [X%] have been applied.

If I do not receive payment within the next 48 hours, I will have no choice but to send this invoice to my collections agency and suspend all work on your project.

To avoid further action, please submit payment immediately.

[Your Name]

4. Include easy payment options

Make sure each reminder includes a copy of the overdue invoice along with clear options for submitting payment quickly. The easier you make it for clients to pay, the more likely they are to take care of the overdue balance promptly.

At a minimum, include a prominent link for clients to view and pay the invoice online. If you accept multiple payment methods, like bank transfer or credit card, spell out those options clearly. You may also want to include a phone number clients can call to pay by credit card or discuss payment arrangements.

Late Payment Reminder Best Practices

Beyond the nuts and bolts of setting up automated reminders, there are some best practices freelancers should keep in mind to make their systems as effective as possible:

  • Don't wait too long: It's best to set the first reminder to go out 2-3 days after the invoice due date. This gives clients a bit of a grace period in case the late payment was an accident but doesn't let too much time pass before following up.

  • Be direct but professional: As reminders progress, be increasingly direct in your language to convey the seriousness of the overdue payment. However, keep your tone professional rather than angry or confrontational. Remember that your reminders are a business tool, not a chance to vent frustrations.

  • Refer back to your contract: In your reminders, reference the payment terms the client originally agreed to. This reminds them of their contractual obligations and shows that you're simply holding them to the agreement they made.

  • Keep good records: Make sure you keep copies of all payment reminders you send, along with any responses from clients. Having a clear paper trail will be important if you end up needing to send the invoice to collections or take legal action.

  • Be willing to pick up the phone: If the payment becomes extremely overdue or you receive no response to several reminders, it may be time to give the client a call. A live conversation may help you uncover what's leading to the hold up and come to a resolution faster. Just because you have automated reminders doesn't mean you should avoid personal interaction altogether!

  • Consider late fees: While not always appropriate, charging interest or late payment fees on significantly overdue invoices can motivate clients to pay up. Make sure any late fees are in line with Swiss regulations and spelled out in your contract. You can usually have your invoicing software automatically add these to the outstanding balance after a certain point.

How to Handle Clients Who Still Don't Pay

Unfortunately, even the most finely tuned automated reminder system won't make every client pay on time, every time. Here are the steps you can take when reminders aren't enough:

  1. Send a formal demand letter: Before escalating further, send a physical letter demanding payment by a firm deadline. The official nature of a mailed letter may be enough to push the client to settle up.

  2. Hire a collection agency: For significantly overdue invoices that are large enough to be worth the cost, you may need to work with a professional collections service. Look for one that specializes in working with freelancers and small businesses. Keep in mind that the agency will take a cut of whatever they recover.

  3. Take legal action: If you're owed a substantial amount and the client can afford to pay, taking them to court may be warranted. However, for Swiss freelancer, the time and cost involved in legal action often outweighs the amount that can be collected. Consult with a lawyer to understand your options.

  4. Know when to let it go: In some cases, the sad reality is that you simply may not be able to collect on a very old invoice, no matter what you do. It may be better to write off the loss and move on rather than throwing good money after bad. Just be sure to make a note not to work with that client again!

Proactive Steps to Prevent Late Payments

While automated reminders can drastically cut down on late payments, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Here are some steps you can take to encourage on-time payments from the get-go:

  • Research potential clients: Before agreeing to work with a new client, do your due diligence. Check their website and social media presence to get a feel for their business. Search for any complaints or negative reviews that might indicate issues with paying on time. You can even ask for references from other freelancers or vendors they've worked with.

  • Have a written contract: Never start work without a signed contract that clearly outlines your payment terms, including your rates, due dates, accepted payment methods, and any late fees. Having expectations in writing from the start makes enforcement much easier down the line.

  • Require a deposit: For larger projects, ask for a deposit or partial payment upfront before any work begins. This helps protect you in case the client ghosts or refuses to pay the final balance. A typical deposit is 25-50% of the total project fee.

  • Invoice immediately: Send your invoice as soon as work is complete, if not sooner. The more you delay invoicing, the easier it is for the client to forget that payment is due. Many freelancers even send invoices as soon as they begin work, with a due date that coincides with the project end date.

  • Offer early payment incentives: Some freelancers find success offering small discounts for early payment. For example, you might give clients 5% off if they pay within 5 days of the invoice date. Just make sure your profit margins can handle the discount!

  • Accept multiple payment options: The easier you make it for clients to pay you, the fewer excuses they'll have for delays. Accepting payment by ACH transfer, credit card, PayPal, TransferWise, and other methods covers all the bases.


As a freelancer, chasing down late payments can easily become a massive drain on your time, energy, and client relationships. But by automating your payment reminders, you can flip the script and get paid faster with minimal manual effort.

Keeping cash flowing consistently is essential for maintaining a healthy freelance business. It allows you to cover your operating expenses, pay yourself a regular salary, and reinvest in growing your client base and service offerings. Most importantly, it provides priceless peace of mind.

If you haven't already set up automated late payment reminders, now is the time to get started. Choose your invoicing software, customize your reminders, and let the system work its magic in the background while you get back to doing the work you love.

With a reliable reminder system humming along, you can shift your focus to landing great clients, producing stellar work, and scaling your Swiss freelance business to new heights. Here's to getting paid on time, every time!