Some freelancers struggle to reconcile the two different relationships of selling to clients and asking to be paid – it’s a dilemma that’s commonplace, and if you feel this way you’re not alone. It’s often felt that asking to be paid and chasing your payment will cause customers to go elsewhere.
Here are some tips that will help you manage these (possibly) opposing relationships with customers, and will give you a simple that will make it easier to ask for your money, and actually get it into your bank account!
Remember that getting paid begins with the sales process. Agree payment terms as part of the sale (not afterwards), and make sure you send terms and conditions before you start work. Ask your customer how they prefer you to submit invoices, who you send them to, email or snail mail, quote a purchase order number, etc. etc.
Make it a routine in your company to call customers and ask to be paid – not just something that happens when you think of it, or you’ve hit your overdraft limit and can’t pay anyone! Better still, put aside a set time every week to chase payments.
Approach credit control as a customer service activity, not an “anti-customer” activity. Calling to check that an invoice is safely received by your customer a week after you’ve sent it out increases your chances of getting paid dramatically! Plus, it’s nicer than calling and berating them for not paying you once it’s overdue.
Phone customers, don’t just email. When you telephone you’re in control of the conversation – it’s just too easy to get fobbed off if you only email, and it isn’t efficient (you may think it is, but our statistics show its at least 42% less efficient).
Send your invoices out promptly, don’t wait until the end of the month and send gentle reminders and statements to customers fortnightly – many companies don’t pay until they get a statement or a phone call – make sure your payment is prioritised.
Make sure you get the right answer to the right question – which is “when will the money be in my bank account” – it isn’t “when are you writing the cheque?”
Is there another way you can get paid? Many firms offer alternatives, like direct debit or credit cards.
Have an escalation process for people who still don’t pay their invoice.
Don’t be afraid of issuing that 7 day letter and following through on it. Remember – people who don’t pay you are NOT customers.
Photo by Kate Ter Haar