Getting Your Clients to Pay Faster

Above is a picture of an espresso and a heated chicken wrap at Presse Café on Notre Dame Ouest. What does this have to do with getting paid? Well, when I was going through my lightroom pictures in order to pick one for this quick post, my initial inclination was to flag stereotypical pictures – money, laptop working, papers, etc. However, on the second pass, I thought, what REALLY is the ideal outcome of getting paid faster by your clients? The freedom of not even have to think about it anymore.

When I am not in the office doing work, I spend a lot in front of my laptop at cafés. I used to think that bringing your laptop to do a bit of work at these establishments was great – you get access to free internet and a bit of space to work for the price of a cup of coffee and maybe a side of pumpkin loaf. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like you’re working (I blame Facebook). It sure beats the drudgery of the nine-to-five every day.

Now that I have been doing this for a while, I have gone full circle and now consider a day to be really successful if I make it out to the café with absolutely nothing to do but chill out and maybe read a book on my ipad.

I’m going to be real honest for a second – I suck at asking people for money. Like reallyyyyy suck. I always feel awkward and forced even it’s the logical conclusion to a project/job or a phase of it. I don’t even like taking money for registrations for dance workshops. That’s why I started using Guestlistapp for online registrations in the first place.

However, I know that life as a vagabond often means that in order to live, you have to sometimes chase clients for your money. I have found that in 99.9% of the time, your clients are not actually being malicious in their intent – they simply either forgot, are over-worked/stressed, or just waiting for their own checks to clear so that they can pay you. One of the best lessons I’ve learned this year is that it is super important to keep in mind that your clients are not out trying to screw you. They want to pay you for a job well done, it’s on you to make it as easy for them as possible to. I would even go so far and say that you shouldn’t expect to get paid immediately as soon as you have completed your end of the deal (unless of course it’s a face-to-face interaction like a private lesson or you are fixing someone’s computer at their house). Always factor in some time after project completion until you get some moolah for more dancing!

There are however two things that I like to do to help speed this process along though and maybe this would help you as well:

1) Personalized Late Payment Notifications

I usually give a grace period of 21 days for clients to pay and send email reminders/late payment reminders in three phases: 7, 14, and 20 days. What is important here is to be straight to the point (hey you owe me money) but at the same time having a touch of personality to not make it seem so serious.

I often change up my messages every couple of months just to keep things fresh but here are my favourite late payment notifications that I stole from my colleague Saul Colt (the smartest man on the internet) a long time ago:

After 7 Days:

“I know paying invoices are no fun but getting paid is. So please take note that your invoice is now 7 days old. Please pay your invoice as soon as you can, so I can feel joy from receiving money and then feel the sorrow of paying my own bills. To access your invoice go to: ::invoice link::”

After 14 Days:

“Now if we were dating, 14 days would be a cool milestone of sorts but since no part of our relationship involves going to movies and sharing milkshakes I feel the need to remind you that your invoice is now 14 days old. Please pay your invoice as soon as you can so the butterflies can return to our relationship. To access your invoice go to: ::invoice link::”

After 20 Days:

“If you have perfect vision it is called having 20/20 vision. We like to think we have 20/20 vision when it comes to watching your taxes so because of this we wanted to remind you that your bill is now 20 days old. Can you please take a look at it and start whatever process you to do to look after this invoice! To access your invoice go to: ::invoice link::”

As you can read above, it’s a bit better than just emailing or calling up your clients and going, “hey remember to pay me” and the best of all, these emails are automated so they get sent out without even me having to remember.

2) Late Payment Fees

The other action item that might work for you is to indicate in your invoice terms of service that you do attach late fees if your client does not pay on time.

You can either go for a percentage value of what they owe you after a specific time or a flat fee.

For the percentage value, you would usually enter in your terms of service something along the lines of, “Please note that if payment has not been received after 30 days, there is a 2.5% late payment fee added to the invoice”.

For a flat fee, that’s pretty easy – “…. $10 late fee per month…”.

I find that implementing a late payment fee structure to your services actually works well in letting your clients know to pay on time. EVERYBODY hates extra fees. To date, I have never actually collected any actual late payment fees from any of my clients but having it there does give you a little bit of peace of mind (unless of course it snowballs and your clients never end up paying you, then they are just scumbags then).

It is worth to point out that I don’t do this for every client I have. Some clients that I work with, I have an extremely good working relationship with and just trust they will pay me at the first possible moment. For those, I don’t even send them reminders or indicate on their terms about late payment fees.

Do some testing and see if these two simple tips help you get paid just that little bit faster the next time you are out vagabonding. The ultimate goal of being a vagabond in my opinion is more dancing and less interwebbing/computerizing. Let me know if you have some tips to share as well.

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