Ever had a hard time getting a client to pay you? Then you’ll want to pay close attention to this article. Because the other day, I got an email from a Pro-Lancer named Craig about this very problem. And since the tips I offered Craig apply to all of us, I wanted to share my response with you, too.
Here’s what happened…
Craig’s client says they’re happy with his work. And they are already talking with Craig about working together on other projects.
But Craig has noticed that his client is getting a bit lax about paying on time. So he emailed me asking…
“How do you set the expectations upfront, or even remind clients along the way that — if they don’t honour the (advanced) payment schedule — then the work doesn’t get done?
Getting my initial deposit was easy enough but as we move along, I sense my client needs a tactful reminder about the importance of paying on time. But I don’t want to damage the working relationship in any way.”
This is a great question. Because it can be hard to enforce a boundary like this, while also maintaining a good relationship with an active client. And it’s great that Craig already has an agreement in place that makes sure he gets paid in advance.
In this situation, my advice depends on whether the client has already missed a payment. Or if they just wait to the last minute to pay.
To start, on top of your invoice, I would send the client a separate email that says something to the effect of…
Wanted to send you a quick email to let you know I sent over the invoice for the next phase of the project. Let me know if it didn’t show up for some reason.
Also, I wanted to share a quick reminder that we agreed that you would process all invoices before I moved on to the next phase of the project.
Then if the client has not missed a payment yet — but has come close a few times — you can say…
I bring this up because the last few payments have come close to the deadline. And I’d hate for us to lose the momentum we’ve built up over something as small as waiting for a payment to clear. So I wanted to send a quick reminder to make sure we can keep moving forward.
Or if the client has missed a payment, you can say…
The last payment actually came a little after the deadline. But I didn’t want to slow down the momentum we’ve built, so I was happy to keep working that one time.
For the sake of my own business though, I can’t make a habit out of it. So I wanted to give you plenty of notice this time so that you can process this invoice by the date we agreed — otherwise I will have to pause my work on the project until the payment clears in my bank.
Notice how I always make sure to connect paying on time back to keeping the project moving forward.
Because — no offense — the client doesn’t really care that much about paying you on time. They do care about getting their project done on time, though.
Which is why I made sure to connect what the client wants (to finish on time) — to what you want (to get paid on time).
So now that you’ve seen my advice to Craig, let me ask…
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