Following up on Why you procrastinate on invoicing and what to do about it, Chris Van Patten sent this question by email:
It’s great to have clients who pay on (or ahead of!) time, especially when I have to deal with other clients who still don’t pay months after the job is done. I’d be interested to get the Small Biz Survival perspective on that!
Let’s come up with some good solutions together.
If you’re using an automated billing system, make sure you take advantage of all the tools it gives you to make this easier. If you are producing invoices with a spreadsheet or word processor, it’s all up to you. This is another place for a system.
1. Set a clear payment date right on the invoice.
If it’s appropriate or needed, set a late payment penalty. If you do, be very clear about it on the invoice.
2. Keep a clear record of who has paid and who hasn’t.
This should be automatic with a billing system. If you’re working by hand, keep a simple list of who still owes how much.
3. Re-invoice, and escalate when you have to.
If you haven’t been paid, don’t ignore the problem. Send another invoice or statement. Use your calendar program to remind yourself when it’s time to follow up. Move up to a phone call. It’s a pretty rare client that resists a direct request for payment. And if you drop in to see them….
Be understanding of those who are having problems, but don’t continue to throw good work after bad.
What about the folks who put you off, string you an ever-changing story, and don’t ever seem to pay? Recognize that you may never get your money from them, but keep at it.
I’ll bet that you have more ideas on this. I’d love to hear them in the comments.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.