There is a growing trend among companies to pay later and later. What was 30 days to pay may now be 45. For example, those previously at 45 may be going to 60*. Worse, small companies are typically targeted first. Here’s what you can do to try to speed up clients who pay slowly:
- Get paid at time of service. If your service is completed on the same day you show up, request payment immediately. You’ll need to ensure the client is there to pay you or get credit card authorization before you start. This works well when dealing with individuals as clients, but is a little harder when working with a business. There are many credit card readers available to use with your smartphone.
- Invoice early and often. For longer projects, you will want to have progress payments. Make sure your project is broken down into small enough segments so you can bill about every 2 weeks. So even if your clients pay slowly, you’ll have started the pipeline earlier.
- Begin charging a down payment on start of project. You can typically charge up to 30% to start the project, especially if you have materials to buy for the client.
- Reduce the amount of credit you extend. If a client’s receivables become too large, request payment before signing up for any new projects. Be respectful, this is probably one of your larger clients and you value the relationship.
- Keep better records of shipments and deliveries. Companies strapped for cash will claim they didn’t receive shipments or give spurious complaints to delay the time to pay. Make sure you are keeping delivery receipts, service authorization records, and correspondence about the project.
- Start a credit and collections activity system. If you are not getting an Accounts Receivable report from your accounting system, start immediately. There’s not a lot of time involved if you systematically follow up with clients after 45 days, 60 days, 75 days. Call them with a friendly reminder, ask about the payment. Specifically, ask them when you can expect payment.
- Have a credit policy. Specify your payment terms, how they can pay you, and what will happen if they don’t pay on time. Write these down. You can include them in your statement of work, your original proposal or even summarize verbally. You don’t want to appear heavy handed, just business like, so don’t make a big issue out of it.
Systematically working through these ideas can potentially reduce your slow paying clients. Collect your client pay sooner following these hints and seek to turn your slow paying clients into fast paying clients. While there’s no quick fix, you may see significant results over time if you begin implementing these ideas now. If you have any questions about business planning or other financial planning, contact us!