The freelance business is a tricky one. When you are working for yourself, you don’t have the corporate infrastructure to handle all the formalities, namely getting paid. If you aren’t set to a recurring billing cycle, its always a little awkward asking for your payment. On the contrary, clients usually aren’t rushing to pay their bills. In fact, they’ll sometimes avoid paying their bills and hold off as long as possible. In the end of the day, you need to develop a strategy to get your bills paid, and paid on time. Here are 3 things you can do when a client doesn’t pay:
Resend the Invoice
A very integral step in closing any business deal is the follow-up. Very rarely do deals get closed on the first go around. A follow-up is typically served as a reminder to whomever needs to “put down the cash”. In this case, if your invoice has gone unpaid a few days after the pay date it would be a great time to follow up. Resend the invoice with a friendly reminder, theres not need to get aggressive here because ultimately you want them to pay you and potentially rehire you for another job. Make sure you aren’t sending them an automated reminder, as that is much less personal. You can also follow-up on the phone and let them know the invoice has been resent, this puts a little more pressure on them to get it paid.
Find a Different Point of Contact
If your client is an individual this tip obviously won’t be applicable. However most of the time your client will be a company with several employees. Not everyone is great at communicating, so it’s very important to identify those who can respond to you in a timely manner. If you’re having trouble getting your invoices paid due to lack of communication, source around the company a bit for another point of contact. Even if they aren’t authorized to pay the invoice, you can still rely on them to make sure your requests are met.
Take Legal Action
This should only be done as a last resort. You should be able to resolve your payment issues using either of the techniques above, if not you can look into taking legal action. You must have proper paperwork in order to take legal action, which is why it’s always important to sign a contract on the start date of the job. There are two steps you can take here, one is more severe than the other. Option one is to have an attorney write a letter. This is basically a reminder that the payment is due by a certain date or legal action will take place. If the attorney’s letter doesn’t work, you can try small claims court. Courts and attorney’s often times cost more than the actual payment that’s due so avoid these methods if possible.
Its important to build trust between you and your clients. This trust is largely based on you providing them quality work and them paying you more or less on time. Sometimes clients are late on payments which is fine once in a while but should be reassessed if its a common occurrence. Make sure to build a trusted network of clients, and do away with those who take advantage of your services.