If you’ve been freelancing for at least a year, it’s more than likely that you’ve come across at least one client who hasn’t made a payment on time.
There can be multiple reasons for this, whether they simply forgot, didn’t receive the invoice or they had a more sinister motivation.
Whatever the reason is, it means you have to chase them up to make sure you get your money. Given that one in ten freelancers have struggled to pay their mortgage or rent due to a late payment, this should be a top priority.
Here are some tips on how to handle a dreaded late payment.
A polite notice
The first order of business when a client has missed a payment is to politely nudge them and point them in the direction of your invoice.
You should send a friendly reminder email, perhaps beginning ‘I’m emailing to confirm that you received my last invoice…’ This way, there is no need for a defensive reaction from the client – the invoice may have got lost in their junk mail after all!
Get your information right
Before you do anything further, you should take time to go over your past correspondences with the client and check you have the information correct.
If you get back in touch and you end up having their date of payment wrong, this may affect your future relationship with the client and they may even deem you to be unprofessional.
A persistent reminder
Once you’ve checked that all the information you have is correct, it’s time to step up the contact. Send a follow up email at minimum of 10 days after the polite reminder.
This email should be more firm than the initial polite notice, but definitely not aggressive. A good opener you might use here could be ‘I am writing to follow up on the unpaid invoice from… ‘.
If you still don’t get a reply, you should email over the relevant documentation on your status on late payments. This may be a clause in your contract or even a written up email, stating your conditions.
Presented as documentation in a formal manner, this will more likely have an effect than just sending email after email where you get progressively angrier.
Make a call
Finally, once you’ve sent several email reminders and still heard nothing back, you should pick up the phone and give the client a call.
People are more likely to respond to the sound of your own voice, and if there’s been a problem with their email inbox, this is where it’s resolved.
Do you struggle to get the money you’re owed from late-paying clients? What methods of approach do you use? Leave your comments in the section below!