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How to Automate Email Reminders for Overdue Customers (QuickBooks Online)

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

One way to keep your company’s cash flow positive is to incorporate automation into your follow-up routine. QuickBooks Online can help with this.

Cash flow can be one of the most challenging aspects of managing a business. And when it comes to late payments, remembering to follow up with customers and feeling comfortable doing so can cause delays in getting paid. There are a few proactive steps you can implement to deter late payments from the get-go, like:

  • Accepting digital payment via credit card, debit card, and ACH.

  • Offering discounts for early payments (if it makes financial sense for you to do so).

  • Allowing customers to set up automatically recurring payments.

But what should you do once a payment is actually late? Frequent and proactive follow-ups are a great practice. Conveniently, QuickBooks Online offers a tool for accelerating incoming payments: automated reminders. Setting these up should reduce the amount of time you need to spend keeping up with past-due remittances. Automatic reminders are easy to set up, and you can even personalize your messages.

Interested in setting up reminders for your own Accounts Receivable and Payable? While the Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus versions of QBO don't offer a to-do list feature (you'll need to upgrade to QuickBooks Online Advanced to unlock the "workflows" tool) there are ways to digitally "tie a string around your finger" to avoid falling behind on your own critical chores.

If sending out payment reminders to your customers makes you feel intrusive, consider how you'd feel if the shoe was on the other foot and you were receiving a reminder: oftentimes, it's simply a matter of a financial obligation slipping your attention. Of course, you're probably interested in maintaining good working relationships with your vendors, so a late payment notification might even serve as a welcome reminder.

Setting Up the Automation

To get started, click the gear icon in the upper right corner. Under Your Company, click on Account and Settings. Click the Sales tab and scroll down to Reminders. Click the pencil icon on the far right to open the options here, then click the on/off button next to Automatic invoice reminders to activate them. Click the down arrow next to Default email message for invoice reminders to open the template.

QuickBooks Online includes email templates for late payment reminders that you can edit.

If you’ve ever created a mail merge, this will look familiar to you. QuickBooks Online replaces the text in [brackets] with data from your company file. So it will prepare an email for every customer that is past due, replacing the bracketed content for the relevant customer or company name and invoice number. Of course, you can choose not to personalize the emails, but doing so may make the sender feel more obligated to complete payment if they perceive the reminder is coming directly from you. Everything in the template can be edited, and you can also check a box to have a copy sent to you for your email records.

Below this email template are three reminder-scheduling blocks. Click the button next to Reminder 1 to turn it on. You’ll see that you can set up a reminder to go out to customers either on the due date or a specified number of days (3, 7, 14, 30, or 90) before or after the invoice due date.

QuickBooks Online checks the due dates for your invoices and will automatically send the email reminder out to everyone who meets the criteria. If a customer record has an email address in it, a reminder will be dispatched even if you didn’t send the original invoice through email.

You can schedule automatic invoice reminders to every customer who meets the criteria you’ve specified.

To set up additional, different reminders, you can do so in the Reminder 2 and Reminder 3 blocks. When you’ve finished, click Save. You can always go back in and edit these. To see who received reminders, click on Sales in the left vertical toolbar, then Invoices. The word Reminded should appear in the Status column.

If you’d rather dispatch reminder emails manually, you can do so in QuickBooks Online. With the same Sales | Invoices screen open, click on the down arrow next to Receive payment at the end of the row and select Send reminder. If you want to send reminders to multiple customers, click the box in front of each name to create a checkmark. Click the down arrow next to Batch actions right above the table and select Send reminder.

Reminding Yourself

We wish that QuickBooks Online included a reminder feature like QuickBooks Desktop, which greets you every time you launch the software, displaying tasks that need to be completed. While QBO doesn't offer such a precise feature, there are workarounds that you can set up to remind yourself when an invoice or bill payment is running late. You just have to make a habit of checking certain data screens regularly. For example, try visiting:

  • The Business Overview element of the home page. There’s an Income graph that shows you how much money is tied up in overdue invoices (and open invoices).

  • The Invoices and All Sales screens that you can see by clicking on Sales in the left vertical toolbar.

  • Certain reports, like Accounts receivable aging detail, Open Invoices, Unbilled charges, and Unbilled time.

We're always willing to spend some time helping you make better use of QuickBooks online to manage your finance. And if you find your business needs more robust documentation around processes within QuickBooks, we can always assist with an upgrade to QuickBooks Online Advanced.

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