How to Make Client Payments Happen (On Time)
If there's one thing I HATE, it's chasing money. Not bill collecting, mind you. But chasing money. Sometimes there's this struggle of just getting a hold of the right person to be able to be paid. This is not always easy. How do you get the late-payers to get their act together?
Recently, I had a kind of run-around on a few projects that I did. I got paid, and everything remained professional and kindly. But I learned a few things, too:
- Get the price up front. Even with a beautifully executed contract and an agreed upon payment date -- it sometimes slips to get an exact amount for your work. An example of this is the ol' "features will be paid $XXX-XXX." What exactly does that mean? Usually, if you are a first-time contributor and your word count is on the low side, you can expect the bottom of the pay range. But never assume anything different. Get the amount up front.
- Get the method of payment up front. All of my invoices have both an address for mailing payments and a PayPal address. This means more choices for my clients -- and confusion. Understand their payment policies so that you can keep an eye out. Don't be afraid to remind them that you take payment either way, but you need to know which way your money will show up at your door.
- Be firm, but understanding. Don't ever say, "Are you going to pay me?" That's a question that can go unanswered (and could lead to tense feelings). Instead, offer options like, "Would you prefer to pay me via PayPal or company check?" Let them know that while you understand they might be busy, you require a response to your inquiry for your own bookkeeping purposes. Could they communicate the date they sent out the check? (If they haven't yet, this should get them moving...)