It happens, that’s all I can say.
It’s just one of the risks involved when you decide to start your own business or become a freelancer.
In this post I want to share with you some tips to help you get paid from your clients when they’ve decided to start dodging your invoices.
But before I do that, let’s talk about how to avoid getting stuck in this sticky situation.
Collect Payment Up Front
The ideal thing to do is collect payment from your clients up front. When I first started my digital marketing agency I was a bit uncomfortable asking for payment up front. Honestly, I felt that if I asked for the money before I started the project, they’d back off and wouldn’t go through with the deal.
And at the time, I needed all the money I could get coming in. So yes, I did work on projects without collecting payment up front. But I learned very quickly to get comfortable explaining to my clients that I required payment prior to starting any work after I had to chase a client down for payment on an invoice.
Collect A Non-Refundable Deposit
If asking for a full payment of front makes your stomach knot up, then collect a non-refundable deposit that will help you cover the costs of the project or assignment.
Get A Strong Service Agreement
If you insist on not collecting up front for your services, then make sure you have a strong agreement with clear payment terms that explains the consequences of failing to pay.
Now, if you have a pesky client that all of sudden goes into the witness protection program once it was time to pay, what can you do to collect?
Let’s take a look….
Email Follow Up
If the project is already confirmed and better yet, if there are documents and agreements signed between you and client, you can safely pursue this client by dropping bomb-sized hints via email.
As a business owners, the excuse of “my boss is harassing me about your payment” cannot be used because, well, you are the boss!
Here’s what you can do….
When a client fails to pay your invoice when it’s due, you’re going to want to send them an email every other day. If they don’t respond, your senses should be tingling by now.
Yes, I know. The thought of sending collection type emails to a client makes you feel like throwing up. But you're gonna have to do it if you want to get paid.
By the third email, if they ignore you again, say something firm but not nasty.
If they still don’t respond, send them another invoice.
If this is already the fifth time you’re sending the email, then send them repeated invoices every day.
Your email follow up should escalate in tone as days go on and your client ignores your notices. At some point you will want to give your client the heads up that if they continue to ignore your past due invoice you will have no choice but to send them to collections.
Now, if you’re going to say this, make sure that it’s not an empty threat and that you are ready to follow through with it.
Hire A Collection Agency
Some collection agencies will either not charge you to perform their services or will charge you a minimal up front fee. But they will collect a portion of the debt once collected. However, a portion of a paid invoice is better than not getting paid at all.
I'll end with this....
I know that for some of you it could be kind of uncomfortable to ask to get paid for your services up front. And although there will be cases where you will want to provide a service up front, primarily when you're first starting out and need to build up a portfolio of projects...don't under estimate your genius and the value you are delivering to your clients.
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