You did the work. Actually, you did the work extremely well. In fact, not only did you do the work extremely well, you completed the entire project under budget and ahead of schedule. So why isn’t your client paying?
All invoicing businesses, from freelancers to major firms, experience delinquent payers. When delinquency occurs once in a while, you probably accidentally accepted an irresponsible client, and your business won’t suffer terribly. However, if too many of your clients start disappearing or taking their sweet time paying, you might want to make sure you aren’t doing something wrong. Here are eight mistakes that might transform any client into a delinquent client.
1. You Didn’t Specify Your Terms
When you are over-eager for work, you might jump into a client’s project before discussing important terms ― like how, what, and when you will be paid. Before you even pick up a pen, you and your clients must agree on the terms of the project, which will facilitate your payments being on-time and in-full. It is also necessary that both parties have the terms written, signed, and saved, so either of you can consult your documents in the event of a payment dispute.
2. Your Invoices Are Confusing
You probably know exactly what you need from your clients, but if you can’t communicate that clearly though your invoices, your clients probably won’t give you anything. Invoices have a standard format, which you can find online. In fact, you can use a free online invoice generator to ensure your clients feel comfortable reviewing your payment requests.
3. You Waited Before Sending Your Invoice
As soon as you finish your client’s project, they should have your invoice in-hand. Allowing any delay between completion and payment sends your clients the message that payment isn’t necessarily important to you, and many clients will take advantage of your perceived relaxed attitude with delinquent payments. Though it may seem rude to demand payment as soon as the project is over, you need to be firm with your clients if you don’t want them to abuse you.
4. You Continue Working Without Payment
Your terms might require your client to make regular payments before a project is complete; however, if you are strapped for cash, you might continue working on a project even when a client becomes delinquent in the hopes that the client will send a lump sum at the end. Unfortunately, when clients learn that you will work until paid, many begin to believe that your labor is free. If you can’t afford to stop working, you can partner with a factoring company to resolve unpaid invoices and receive the payments you deserve.
5. Your Terms Are Too Relaxed
Another symptom of being desperate for work, being lenient with your terms, often results in disrespectful behavior from clients, including refusal to pay. You should understand what your work is worth, which might mean performing some market research to learn what your competitors are charging and how your quality and quantity can compare. Once you decide, you should be strict with your payment amounts, due dates, and other important terms, that way your clients understand that you are professional and resolute in your work.
6. Your Prices Aren’t Competitive
Then again, the problem might be that you are charging too much. If your rates are too far above those of your competitors, your clients might feel cheated and be unwilling to pay. Once again, you should perform some research to determine whether your products are truly worth your high prices, or whether you should lower them to be more competitive and attract clients with reasonable budgets and an inclination to make payments.
7. You Are Careless With Client Selection
Though you might not realize it, there are plenty of signs that your client will become delinquent. Spotty communication, a lack of budget, and scarce specifications for the project are all indications that your client is not professional and might not pay. Whenever you are approached by a questionable client that raises internal red flags, you should perform a background check to learn the client’s history with other contractors. A past filled with bankruptcies, lawsuits, or otherwise poor relationships should be a big warning.
8. You Haven’t Followed Up
You sent the invoice; you waited; and you weren’t paid. Did you try contacting your client and following up after the project and invoice? It is entirely likely that your clients have every intention to pay, but with so many other responsibilities, they simply forgot. If an email does not garner a response, you should try calling and sending additional invoices through the mail. Sometimes, a reminder is all a client needs to actually send the check.
About the Author: Cher Zavala contributes content on a variety of subjects to a number of high-quality websites.