This post is a follow on from ‘A time to pay’ so if you haven’t read that you might like to do so before reading this one!
Once you have decided on your payment terms, ensured that both you and your client understand what is to be delivered, and paid for your services, there is still the possibility that a client will let you down and not pay.
The most likely scenario is that the client is strapped for cash and you are not seen as the first payment priority for them. This is a difficult position to be placed in for any service provider. My advice is that you must stand firm and by doing so you may well move yourself up the payment list – especially if the client is looking for further work from you.
Just as an aside, I generally provide an ongoing service to clients and so agree with them a fixed price service, so they can set up monthly standing orders. This has proved to be a win/win strategy. Clients like it because payments are broken down into monthly bite sized payments and I like it because I don’t have to do monthly invoices and then chase for payment.
However, what I did not appreciate until a client pointed it out to me was that, for them, my payments had moved up into the ‘unavoidable’ category – along with rent, rates, electricity etc. Unlike other professional service bills which are paid as and when money is available, my payment is made as one of the first.
Now, many service providers get lulled into doing more work for a client who is not paying, because they believe that they will not be given further work if they insist on being paid. As in my previous blog I would most strongly urge you not to get into this way of thinking. Firstly, the surest way of getting paid for work done is to stop working until payment is made. Secondly, if the client is bad at paying why would you want further work from them – rather than using your limited time to work for a client who will pay!
If a client is unlikely to use your services again, you are in a psychologically stronger position. You may well not be so reticent in sending tough letters demanding payment. Or, in fact, starting legal proceedings. If you want to go down this route it is very important that you understand what your rights are and how best to proceed. My advice would be to use a payment collection service such as that provided by companies like Credebt. They take the hassle away and enable you to concentrate on more positive areas in your business.
Finally, as I said in my earlier blog, don’t be coy about collecting money owed to you. As long as you have done the job required, and to the standard agreed, you are entitled to be paid!