Small business owners often wear many hats, and managing the business’ finances is generally one of them. Perhaps one of the most important and time-consuming parts of this is getting clients to pay their invoices on time. Here are six tips to help you overcome this.
Agree on the services being provided
One way to ensure that clients don’t debate or delay payment on an invoice is to agree upfront – before any work commences – on what services will be provided at what cost.
You should also outline what isn’t covered and any additional charges that may be incurred beyond the assigned job. Once the client has agreed, both parties should be clear about the costs and the nature of the work involved.
Have clear payment terms
Don’t be casual about your payment terms. In negotiating with a client, advise them of your invoicing process and payment requirements – and be sure you stick to them. For example, if you require a client to pay 50 per cent upfront ensure the payment has landed before you start work.
Provide an accurate invoice
One of the easiest ways to delay payment is to provide an incorrect invoice. Double check before you send your invoice that it includes: your ABN, business name and contact details, the work you did and who for, the date, your bank account details, if you charge GST and your payment terms. Creating an individual invoice number will also help with tracking payments.
Invoice immediately after you complete a project
If you have completed a job to the client’s satisfaction, send your invoice immediately after. Essentially the sooner you file, the sooner it will be paid. Label your invoice with the date it was sent for easy reference.
Make sure it’s sent to the right person
Ask your client who you should send your invoice to. While your client may have overseen and approved the work, they may not be the person who pays your invoice. It will help to include details of the staff member you completed the work for should you be sending your invoice directly to their accounts department.
Follow up after an invoice becomes overdue
If you and your client agreed on payment terms, then don’t hesitate to follow up if you don’t receive payment by the allocated date. Allow a grace period of a few days, after which a polite email requesting when you may expect payment should help move things along.
Lisa Cugnetto is a Sydney-based freelance writer, editor and content producer. While she writes across all manner of subjects, she enjoys business, arts, travel, lifestyle and popular culture best.