Whether you're a freelancer or you own your own company, billing clients is one of the most frustrating parts of the process. You've gone above and beyond to deliver great work, and you expect to be paid for it on time! Unfortunately, not every client wants to make a payment on the timeline you'd like. If you're struggling to get your clients to pay on time or faster than usual, try these five ways to get your money.
1. Set It Up Right
One of the biggest mistakes made by many professionals--especially new business owners or freelancers--is failing to set up appropriate terms for payment from the beginning. When you enter into a contract with a client, you should both know precisely what you expect to be paid and when you expect payment. Make sure to take the time to lay this out during your initial conversation with a client to avoid confusion later.
2. Offer Incentives
A client paid earlier than anticipated? A small discount on their bill might not make a big difference to you, but it's a better incentive for them to pay it in the future. Incentives can also work in reverse: if invoices aren't paid on time, you can start to add a fee for late payment. Knowing that paying on time will benefit them is often all the incentive a customer needs to get that invoice paid.
3. Don't Ignore It
You've got an invoice hanging out there that you know needs to be paid, but you've been putting off addressing it with the client. Unfortunately, merely ignoring it usually won't get that invoice paid! Instead, discuss it with the client. Send appropriate, timely reminders if needed. Your clients are busy, and they may forget that they need to pay that invoice--so send a reminder to ensure that it will get paid. Be persistent.
4. Be Polite
You're starting to get very frustrated with a client who has consistently failed to pay an invoice--but you shouldn't let that frustration sneak into your language! In fact, offering a "please" or "thank you" when you send your invoice can increase your chances of being paid by as much as 5%.
5. Be Predictable
You've been working with a client for a while--so they should know what to expect from you. If you typically send invoices on the first Wednesday of the month, sending them late will throw off your clients--and reduce the odds that you'll get paid on time. This is particularly important if you're working on retainer with a client long-term or if you do business with them on a regular basis.
Getting paid doesn't have to be as challenging as you think. By following these simple tips, you increase the odds that your clients will submit payment for your outstanding invoices on time, leaving you with more money in the bank--not to mention more time to focus on those important projects and less time worrying about collections.