Phase 1: Tire Kicker Elimination Round
You’ve done your research and narrowed it down to us for your project, perhaps have exchanged conversation through phone and/or email and ready to get started making your vision a reality. Suddenly, you meet with one or more of our team members to discuss your project and after some helpful advice and being provided some contact references of past and current clients an invoice is emailed from our cloud billing and account management system. After multiple follow up calls and back and forth responses through our customer support help desk, *sigh no action taken.
Phase 2: Fending Off The Freebie Seeker
So, the work is finally done and delivered on time, but why is the invoice not marked as paid or a certified cheque issued?
Here are several tips to get paid and avoid the tire kickers and other time wasters.
After being laid-off from a career in Programming in 2014 from a small Canadian multi media company, when the department was eliminated in a restructuring, It was decided to venture out and either find a similar career path or carve out a niche by not just ranking at the top of major search engines for all our related keywords but, absolutely dominating the search results for them.
Unlike our previous Web Hosting venture back in 2003, it was quickly decided the name, “Kayol Hope” would be the same for the business as the individual owner that founded it. Since both entities embody the same heart and soul, when referring to the business or the individual the use of the pronoun, “we” when publishing site content for our digital /online growth consultant (kind of like Marvel Comic’s Spider-Man popular villain, “Venom“). Dealing with Kayol Hope, the owner or a team member of Kayol Hope the business, you are sure to have equally have a positive experience every time.
We have also focused our business plan into several core areas on a freelance basis. Our core areas are as follows: web design & development, search engine optimization (seo/sem), social media marketing (smm/smo), and online/offline reputation management.
It’s been a blast up to now, except for one big problem. Time and time again, we do the work, the client is happy with it, everything’s cool, but we end up waiting and waiting to get paid — and, in a couple of cases, we simply have not been paid at all despite repeated, polite reminders.
We’ve been fortunate enough to get most of these client referrals through our network of friends, and friends of friends, so we don’t want to hurt feelings or take anybody to court. For us, this is simply how we pay our bills & expenses and provide for our family such as anyone else. We are well aware that our dilemma is not unusual or uncommon among freelancers and optimistically believe delays in payment are aren’t deliberate on the client’s part and is a result of invoices getting lumped in with all the other accounts payable — especially given the state of our local economy. While companies may have set payment structures already in place, when you hire a freelancer than your dealing with an independent contractor not an employee so those rules and pushing invoices beyond 30 days to 60, or even 90 days more longer need not apply.
Include payment terms in a written contract up front
If you’re getting most of your projects from friends, maybe you aren’t formalizing contracts in writing, however you should. If your potential client is scared off from signing a contract than honestly, your better off not having them as a client from the get go. Seriously, a contract helps protect the interests of both parties. A contract outlines a timeline so everyone knows what to expect and may specify a late fee, usually a percentage of the total amount.
Get a deposit paid before the project is started
To help even out your cash flow, and since you’re committing your time and effort in advance, we recommend charging a “deposit” when the contract is signed, or payable at an agreed upon point in the project — such as, when the work is about half complete. Not only are partial payments often more digestible for clients, but they give you an early warning that you may be wasting your time on a deadbeat: If you don’t have an initial payment at some point are you sure the client will after you finish the whole job?
Practice prompt, preventive invoicing
Have a follow-up system
Start with an email, friendly but firm, pointing out that your invoice hasn’t been paid and if there’s no response, a more formal notice could be next, recapping the billing information and stating, “This payment is now however-many days, or weeks, late. Please contact us to discuss this serious matter.” Keep your tone professional, factual, and solution-oriented.
Tracking and keeping records
It’s essential to keep track of every contact with clients, summarize it in an email or support ticket for the record. Keep copies of every letter and email and a phone log. You’re building documentation for possible use in court, or to hand over to a collections agency, if it comes to that.