What Do You Do When A Client Won’t Pay?

This is a collaborative blog post.

If you’re looking to improve and grow your business, then you need to make sure that you’re making the best use of the money it makes as possible. That’s not always easy, however, when you don’t have all of the money you’re supposed to. When you’re working with clients, problems getting paid are going to arise. Very occasionally, you will have to eat the cost of a deal gone bad, but that should not be the norm.


Below, we’re going to look at the steps to help you get the money that you’re owed and avoid being taken advantage of by clients, whether they’re doing it intentionally or otherwise.

Picture – CC0 License


Work To A Contract

First of all, you want to ensure that there are no blurred lines when it comes to the question of what you’re getting paid and what you’re getting paid for. You should ensure that you only work with a clear and detailed contract that outlines not just what you’re providing, but how much you’re getting paid, when you’re getting paid, and, most importantly, payment deadlines and any consequences for late payments. You have to make sure there’s no wiggle room and that clients can’t claim ignorance of any expectations in your work agreement.


Don’t Work Without A Deposit

Now, this might not work for all businesses. If your services are relatively low-cost, then a deposit might seem too presumptuous or may not even be worth pursuing. However, if your services come with a substantial cost, then you should make sure that there is a deposit or an upfront payment. Not only will it cover any initial costs that you have to eat, but it also gives you some security that the client does, at the very least, have a means of completing transactions with you in the future. In my experience when a client won’t pay a deposit they won’t pay the balance either.


Send An Invoice Promptly

Even if your client fully intends to pay, many business owners have experience with those who will drag their feet throughout the entire process. You don’t want to give them any excuse to delay. Make it a part of your work routine to send invoices immediately, as soon as the service is provided or the product is delivered. Make sure that your invoices contain all of the details they require, including the details of the addressee, instructions on how to send payment, as well as an itemization of the services and products that are being exchanged for the money.


Don’t Be Afraid To Remind Them

Those who want to maintain a good and friendly working relationship with their clients can be a little too sheepish for their own good when it comes to the question of payment. You might not want to invoke the ire of the client by sending a reminder, but so long as you are polite and formal, you’re simply following best practices. With automated invoice reminders, you can ensure that any reminders are done impartially, at a time that’s appropriate. It also serves as a paper trail, so that your client can dispute that they knew they owed money.


Offer Multiple Payment Options

Although your mileage may vary when it comes to believing them, you may find a client who claims they are unable to pay because they do not use the payment option that you have provided. Sometimes, this is a legitimate reason. Either way, it shouldn’t stand in the way of you getting the money that you are owed. Offer various payment methods, by credit card, bank transfer, online payment system, or otherwise, to ensure that the client has options. No client is likely to be unable to use every one of those payment methods.


Getting What’s Yours

If you follow all of the steps above but the client still fails to pay on time, then you should be willing and ready to charge a late fee. Make sure, again, that it’s baked into the contract, so they can’t claim that it’s unfair or unexpected. Hopefully, it won’t get this far very often, but you should be ready to work with a collections agency that can escalate things on your behalf when it comes to overdue accounts, especially if they owe you a lot of money. You should make it clear to your client what steps you are taking before you take them, offering them the opportunity to get current with their accounts.


Mistakes happen. Clients can forget to pay. It happens. What shouldn’t happen is that you let yourself and your business lose money as a result of it. Take the tips above and turn it into a routine that you can get moving the next time a client fails to pay on time.

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