Unfortunately, some clients pay late all the time, no matter what you do.
You have to harass them to get payment, sending reminder after reminder.
Eventually, they do pay. Which makes you reluctant to let them go—especially if they pay well!
So, what can you do when you find yourself in this kind of situation?
How can you get these clients to pay on time?
And what can you do to protect yourself from this kind of situation in the future?
Every client relationship is different, but here are some possible options:
Charge a deposit upfront
In truth, you should be charging a deposit upfront for ALL projects, whether the client typically pays on time or not.
It’s a way to alleviate some of your risk in case things go sideways.
And it’s especially important that you charge a deposit before you start on a project when clients typically pay late.
Insist clients pay past due invoices before the next project
When invoices are past due, insist that they’re paid in full before starting on the next project for the same client.
This will hopefully encourage them to settle their accounts.
Insist clients pay the full amount upfront
If a client is consistently late in paying, you can require that they pay the full amount upfront. This is the easiest option, but it may garner pushback from clients.
However, if you’ve been working with the client for a while (and you have their trust), they may be okay with this arrangement.
Invoice clients upfront with payment due in 15 or 30 days
If a client is good about paying, but it takes forever for your invoice to wind its way through their internal payment processing, then consider invoicing the client as soon as you’re awarded the project.
Make the invoice due in 15 or 30 days, which gives your invoice time to work its way through their process.
By the time you’re wrapping up the project, your invoice should be paid (or at least very close).
Charge payment to a credit card on file
Another approach is to insist that the client pay by credit card—and that you keep that card number on file.
Let the client know in advance that you’re going to charge their credit card the day you submit your first draft.
Ask yourself if it’s worth the effort
If none of these approaches work, ask yourself if the client is worth the stress and effort of having to continually follow up for payment.
It could be that the client is simply disorganized.
Or it could be that they have little respect for your business—which is a red flag.
But if the client pays well enough, they could be worth the hassle.
However, if they don’t pay well—and are also difficult to work with in other respects—then ask yourself if they’re worth the effort.
Maybe you’d be better off putting your time and effort into finding a new client who DOES pay on time.
You Shouldn’t Have to Chase Down Payments
It’s one thing if clients are late in paying occasionally. Life happens.
But when clients ALWAYS pay late, that’s a whole other thing.
You shouldn’t have to spend your time chasing down payments.
So, don’t be afraid to put mechanisms in place that will save you the effort.
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