By Mark Holman, Co-CEO
You get in your truck on a dark, cold night to push snow so your client can open up their business on time the next day.
You do the work—even get complimented on the thorough job you did, but when it comes time to pay, the customer is AWOL.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
And yet, it’s part of being in business for yourself. But that doesn’t mean you need to grin and bear it. Instead, you can incorporate a few hacks before you sign on a new client to ensure payment.
6 Hacks to Getting Paid on Time
One trick to getting paid on time is to take a percentage or two off the invoice if your customer pays before the due date. Here are six other hacks to getting paid on time:
1. Clarify with a contract: Before starting any work for a customer, set up a contract that specifies the work you’ll be doing, when invoices are due and how you accept payment.
2. Get a down payment: It’s not a bad idea to get a retainer for your services. Percentages would depend on how much square footage you need to plow and how you triage all of your customers. The bigger the square footage and higher up the priority list, the higher the down payment should be.
3. Call up the ladder: If you emailed your customer about a late payment, try calling. Next step, find the accounts payable department and call them about the overdue invoice. When accounts payable tells you the day they’ll mail a check, make sure you send them a follow-up email stating the date when they said they’ll mail it. Also, don’t fall for the infamous reply, “It’s in the mail.”
4. Don’t apologize—but consider a payment plan: Keeping your cool and staying polite are two key characteristics you need to employ when collecting from overdue customers. However, you don’t want to apologize for following up—but you may want to develop a payment plan for your deadbeat client. And a payment plan gets you closer to getting your invoice paid in full.
5. Stop your snow removal services: When your client is past the 30-day mark for payment, stop pushing snow for them. A snowed-in parking lot and icy sidewalks may motivate your client to pay their past due invoices.
6. If it comes to it, seek legal action: No one likes to get a lawyer involved, yet you need to make a living. So, you may only need a lawyer to draw up a letter to send to your late customer demanding payment in full. Also, consider reporting the company to the Better Business Bureau.
It’s uncomfortable and annoying to chase down late payers. But, unfortunately, it’s part of being in business. Most folks aren’t out to shortchange you—so go easy on them and remember your manners. And hopefully, your efforts pay off.
Photo Credit: VIP Landscaping
Akalp, Nellie, “Slow Paying Clients? 7 Tips to Help You Get Paid Faster,” Forbes.com: April 26, 2016.
Miller, Derek, “8 Options When Clients Refuse to Pay You,” SCORE.org: July 19, 2017.
Small Business Administration, “5 Tips for Preventing and Dealing with Non-Paying Clients,” SCORE.org: Sept. 14, 2012.