You might know how great it feels to find the perfect client. Freelancing and owning a business can be tough at times, so it may feel like a breath of fresh air to find a client who is a pleasure to work with. However, if your clients don’t pay on time when it’s time to pay up, this bad habit can easily make them one of your least favorite people to work with.
It’s no secret that freelancing income can fluctuate from month-to-month, but that still doesn’t mean you won’t have regular bills and expenses to pay every week. If you are dealing with a client who always pays late, forgets to pay you, or just makes it a hassle to send your payment each month, the lack of income and delayed payments can start to have a negative effect on your finances which can cause you to stress out.
If you love working with a client but they have trouble making timely payments, it’s understandable that you probably don’t want to kick them to the curb instantly or resort to taking legal action too soon.
Here are some actionable things you can do instead to get your almost-perfect client to pay up on-time.
Send Them a Friendly Email Reminder
People are insanely busy throughout the work week, some weeks they don’t pay on time because they forget. It’s easy for someone to see your invoice come in, perhaps even look at it, and forget to pay it. Some clients may mean well but just aren’t super organized and may just lose track of time.
This is why your first step should always be to send your client a friendly email reminding them that you haven’t been paid yet. Some invoicing software may even allow you to send a reminder manually or automatically if you haven’t been paid yet and want to follow up.
Reach Out to Their Partner/Superior
If you don’t hear anything back after you send a reminder or if a few days have gone by and you still haven’t received your payment, don’t hesitate to email someone else who might be able to help like your client’s partner or superior.
You don’t have to make it seem like you’re ratting them out, but you can easily CC them on an email follow up that you send your client. Also, ask everyone involved if there is a better way/system for you to consider when sending invoices to ensure you are paid on time.
Sometimes it’s a communication breakdown and other times it’s a lack or organization but it’s always best to identify which issue is causing a hold up so it can be avoided in the future.
Establish Late Payment Fees
To make sure your client doesn’t make delayed payments a regular habit, you can establish late payment fees that will be enforced if they don’t pay you by a certain date.
Make sure the terms of your fees are transparent and your client fully understands them and gives consent. Charging a late fee doesn’t make you feel like the ‘nice guy’, but it will help motivate your clients to pay more attention to the due dates on your invoices and honor them.
Tell Them Straight Up How You Feel
Finally, you just might have to confront your client and tell them how you don’t like their late payments. It should be common sense to assume that people like to get paid on-time, but if you don’t speak up about your dislike for late payments your client might figure you are okay with it and not put forth as much effort to pay you on time.
Reach out to your client via email, online chat, or by phone to tell them that you don’t like the fact that they always pay your invoice late and tell them why. Obviously, it’s not fair for a client to pay a freelancer late regularly no matter how comfortable the relationship seems. If you are working under a deadline and honoring the terms of your contract, your client should do the same and sometimes just reminding them of this will wake them up a bit.
Summary: Communicate Clearly and Use All Your Options
It sucks when a client doesn’t pay on time, especially if you like working with them. Bottom line, you shouldn’t settle for late payments from anyone so if you have a client that is making a habit out of not paying you on time, use these actionable tips to address the situation immediately.
Hopefully, you don’t have to go through the experience of not being paid at all but if this ever does happen, there are plenty of more extreme options you can consider. If your client’s lack of effort to pay you on time is becoming a major issue, you can always consider dropping them because it may not be worth it no matter how pleasant the work is.
To wrap up, make sure you set clear expectations early on, elaborate on your payment terms in your contract, and don’t be afraid to hold your client accountable by confronting them and voicing your issues.