So what happens when your client is late in paying you? What do you do to handle this? Biting the hand that feeds you is no way to get more to eat. (Or more design work in this case.)
I recently had a contract client that was late in paying their invoice, and I thought that this would be a good post for my blog. Having expressed in advance that I was a stickler for payment on-time to each of my clients as I sign them, most of them have always been prompt in payment. Typically most companies ask “terms” with each of their vendors, with 30-45 wait periods until payment. But as a freelancer (NOT a vendor), I’ve found that even with the deposit before a job begins, there’s no way that I can give them these kind of terms. I make it clear up front that a check must be cut on completion of the project, and if they won’t agree these terms, I consider walking.
Standard terms for my invoices are 30% down and the rest due on delivery. (When the final project is delivered by email or CD/DVD) It is noted right on my invoice that after 10 days the invoice will be overdue (late) and a late fee will be incurred. My clients appreciate this “grace” period, and most of the time it has not been necessary to add a late fee. But once-in-a-while I’ll be working with someone new who doesn’t know the internal processes of their company, or doesn’t have a good working relationship with their accounting department and things get stopped-up. How do you politely handle this?
Here’s how I went about it this last time: The day the grace period ended (Day 10), I sent an email inquiring about the status of the check, and asked if I needed to submit a new invoice with a late fee included. There were no threats, no “warnings”, I just politely asked if they needed more time by telling them that this “time” would appear as a line-item on a new invoice. The check was ready the following day. I didn’t even have in mind what kind of late fee to charge – a standard amount or a percentage of the total?
As a freelance or contract designer, we get to handle accounting, new business, account management and all those things that are normally handled by another person in a agency environment. I don’t like dealing with the money, I don’t like change orders, and most of all – collection is the bane of my freelance existence. How do you make this a smooth process? What kind of terms you provide your clients and how about late fees? Do you have them?