When Your Clients No Longer Want to Pay You On Time
When Your Clients No Longer Want to Pay You On Time There's a question that pops up in my email inbox at least once a week, from clients asking, "Why are some businesses far more successful at getting paid on time than others?" Having worked with clients and Fortune 500 corporations over the years, I've heard this question asked over many cups of coffee. In my experience, the reason why a small business can easily leave their competition in the dust is because they have identified and understood better then their competitors exactly what their clients will do anything and pay anything to solve, and they provide it.
So, you not getting paid on time? You're not alone. With companies and individuals all now holding on to their money for as long as possible, asking a client for payment is a challenge you're likely to come up against as a self-employed professional.
I used to sweat it out, waiting for checks to arrive on time. You know that feeling, when you sort through the mail looking for the envelope of your client? Then, I came to a point with my business that I would no longer accept checks for the programs we teach. So many of my clients enjoy re-enlisting in our programs, that it became a no-brainer to accept credit cards that we could bill on a re-occuring 3 month cycle. My clients wanted to pay with credit cards, and I provided them the means.
Now, sometimes I will hear my clients tell me that the charitable pledges weren't paid by their members, or the condo dues are late again. When it comes to not paying on time, frequently there has been just a clerical mistake, or the loyal client will at least pretend that there has been one. Peoples lives are so busy, that they forget to pay you. This often means you will have to go easy on them and let the client look into-or pretend to look into-the matter and schedule a follow-up call. Now, the attitude to take in the first call is that, since you are, in effect, business partners, and the client's failure to pay you promptly is probably a mistake that can be corrected. If you still value this client, and you need to make a second call, you should then push for closure without being nervous or confrontational.
Remember you are merely following normal business practices to collect your payment from a loyal client. So, follow these four steps to get your hard-earned money paid on time.
1. To appear professional and confident on the phone, have the invoices in question in front of you. Print their statment and highlight the amount due, their payment history and thank your client for any advanced payments. Make notes on the past due invoice of any positive responses they received from working with you or your products. Note any special payment agreements as well.
2. Call your client during normal business hours so that the client doesn't have an excuse that bookkeeping staff aren't available. And of course, call the day that you expected payment. Remember, you have no leverage with your client's accounting department, partner or spouse. Your agreement is with your client, and it's THEIR job to get you paid NOW!
3. Have this conversation on the phone, and stand up when you speak to your client so that your voice sounds clearer. Be ready to ask for a date when you can pick up the check. Or, consider getting a merchant account so that your past due client can give you a credit card number right on the phone. If you use an accounting software like Quickbooks, you can even set up a re-occuring payment plan using their credit card. That way you get paid, and your client can continue enjoying their life.
4. You also need to resist the suggestion that your client just doesn't have the power to pay you at this moment. Yes, you can sympathize with your client, but don't get drawn into their personal situation.
Overall, your goal here is to make it as easy as possible for your client to pay you on time. If you keep attracting deadbeat clients, perhaps you need to re-define who your ideal clients are.
About the Author:
Kim Schott, your Global Client Communication Expert, is the author of the Keys to Client Communication System, the step-by-step, paint by numbers client attraction program to attract more clients in less time. To receive your weekly how-to articles on consistantly attracting more local and global clients in less time, visit www.SchottCulturalConsulting.com
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