Last year I covered 5 major subjects which were; How To Pitch, Converting that pitch into actual work, Good Client Relationships, Tricky Clients and When Projects Go Bad. All of these subjects were aimed at helping you to troubleshoot some of the trickier situations and people you will come across when self-employed. Now that we’ve dealt with some if the best practice during a project, and how to save one if its not going to plan, I wanted to talk about steps after your project is over.
It goes without saying that one of the first things you’ll want to do is check of course you’ve been paid. Thanks to mobile banking and the internet it’s now easier to ensure that a client has seen your invoice and paid you on time. Assuming you have been paid, one of the first things you’ll want to do is receipt that payment so the client will know. You can send this to whomever you’ve dealt with but I always think it’s worth asking if any accounts people need to be copied in. This will be a useful contact should anything ever go wrong further down the line.
There’s nothing worse than getting your statement and realising that you haven’t been paid. Try not to panic too much when this happens. It’s important to phone up your contact straight away and deal with the issue. Often late payment can be from sheer absent mindedness and nothing sinister. In order to prevent late payments in the future I would recommend that you reward good behaviour rather than punishing bad behaviour. Add 10% onto a client who regularly pays late and then knock it off for prompt payment. I’ve had a few clients that paid late every single time, but late is always better than never!
Sometimes a client will just vanish into thin air and will not have paid you. Just to re-cover some essential tips should this happen to you:
1. Make sure you do everything you can to get in touch
2. If you think they may be avoiding you, try having someone else call
3. If you still can’t get through try and reach accounts or another department
4. Always avoid small claims court where possible but the threat of a lawyer can be a useful tool. Try and befriend one and swap services so this costs you nothing.
5. Be sure to send all warnings etc in writing as evidence
6. Never sink to their level.
Hopefully you should not encounter non-paying clients all that often. The best way to avoid this issue is to take preventative steps. Do your due dillinge on the company beforehand. Always get a signed contract with clear payment terms. Get your deposit. Try where possible to protect your work in some way and don’t deliver until full payment is made.