Ask any small business owner or freelancer what one of their more consistent problems is, and most will say the clients. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t appreciate your clients or that you shouldn’t do what you can to ensure their success through your services, but they can bring with them their share of troubles. Reaching them can be hard enough, but when you have a client that isn’t paying, it can risk the future of your business. Here, we’re going to look at some methods you can take to deal with clients that aren’t paying.
Secure Yourself With a Contract
If you’re already having trouble with a client that is slow to pay, then it might be too late to consider putting together a contract with them. However, in future, using contracts to secure your business is one of the smartest things that you can do. It shows knowledge and agreement of the terms of work and payment that you have laid out in advance, which can be very difficult to get out of in the future. Depending on how specific and complex your work is, getting a lawyer to help you draft your customer contracts might be worth making the effort for. If you can’t do that, at least make sure you include the essentials of your contract, such as service description, payment amounts, payment timescale, and the like.
Be Polite but Persistent
In most cases, your payment is only being held back temporarily. Sometimes, a gentle reminder of due payment is enough to get the gears turning again. Using an invoicing system can help you keep track of which clients haven’t paid yet, and when the payment is due, and can also allow you to send an updated invoice to help them ensure they have a record of the payment that they owe. This can prevent the excuse of ‘I lost the invoice’ from being a factor. Sometimes, you can ask why they haven’t paid yet, and potentially offer solutions if they’re having genuine trouble getting the money to you in any way you can influence.
Get the Law on Your Side
If you have a contract, and you have clearly met your side of it, but the client hasn’t and doesn’t seem to show any interest in doing so, it can be a serious concern. In some cases, if it’s a smaller job, then you might want to start escalating the situation. A demand-payment letter is usually the first step, making it clear that you’re ready to take further action. This can mean working with a debt collection service, but if they’re disputing the contract entirely, then contractual dispute litigation might be your next step. Of course, both debt collectors and legal teams cost money. You have to consider the cost factor and which battles you’re willing to escalate and how far.
There’s no guarantee as to which method will help you get the money that you’re owed. Hopefully, the tips arm you with some knowledge of how to handle those troublesome clients, however.