You have done the hard work! The writing is done, your art piece is finished, whatever job it is that you have done for someone is complete. You feel satisfied with your work, your customer seems happy, and all is well with the world.
Except, they haven’t paid you yet.
This is the dreaded situation, and no one likes to be there. Waiting, after you have finished the job, to get paid. It’s a problem that many small businesses face. In face to face dealings, this isn’t uncommon. A small business, usually in small communities, will be asked by friends, neighbors, and other ties to do some work, but then also to wait on payment. Initially, it may even be something they are willing to do. The problem is that sometimes a customer forgets, or “forgets” that they have a bill waiting for them. What’s a business owner to do?
Invoice. Your invoicing method has a huge impact on how this whole process goes down.
Make sure your customer knows exactly what they are dealing with, as well as your expectations in the transaction. You might be doing a commission for someone, and while they have expectations on what you make for them, you have expectations as well. Let them know that they will not receive a finalized version, until they have paid. The same is true for other forms of business and deals. If you can complete the final product, but hold back until you have completed the transaction, this is important. One method is, for example, sending a first draft of a writing and then invoicing. Another idea is when dealing with art, sending a general sketch (lacking details but with the main elements), and putting a big watermark on top. Once you have established a relationship with the customer, it can become less hardlined.
Another key element to getting paid is a level of convenience. Sprout Invoices allow you as the writer of the invoice to embed methods of payment into the invoice. If your customers are notified of an invoice, and then are able to make a payment quickly, they will likely do so. Most of the time, the people you deal with are not intentionally withholding payments. They may forget, or not understand how to make a payment, but very few would intentionally seek to skip out on the bill. Giving them a gentle nudge to make it easier for them to pay is generally all it would take to collect payment.
There are a couple of other ways to help improve payment. You can see this as two sides to the same coin if you would like, but consider early payment discounts, as well as late fees. The trouble is, the messages these things can convey might be a bit troublesome. Let’s say you want to make it more appealing for people to pay earlier, so you have decided to offer an early payment discount. You very much want your customers to do that, so you offer a 10% discount on the payment. You still want to be paid a certain amount however. As a customer, I may be a bit wary of a 10% discount on a $55 invoice. What that means to me, is that the bill is actually $50, and you have increased the price in order to give a discount. That’s no discount at all! However, I do appreciate the incentive and will likely do it anyway.
On the other hand, you may charge late fees. Late fees can be difficult to collect. Some people, when given the option, may pay late and pay the base payment, and leave the late fees to dry up. This is again a somewhat tricky course of action. It may encourage some to pay early, but it may also cause you to have to follow up on an unpleasant conversation.
Consider who the customer is. If you have had dealings with them in the past, you may not want to let them off the hook on late payments, but you may know what to expect. On the other hand, if the customer always has late payments, you may consider telling them you are unwilling to work with them if they continually pay late. This isn’t a great course of action, because chances are you will lose the customer. If that is something that is that important to you, however, feel free to progress how you choose.
Finally, it’s important to know when to push the subject on an invoice, and when not to. Part of this will relate to your own personal finances and comfort level, which only you can decide. Sending a reminder once a week, and then a final reminder on the day an invoice is due, is not unreasonable. It is also important to take note of if these things are being seen or not. If you notice through Sprout Invoices that an invoice hasn’t been seen after a week or two, it may be worth contacting the customer directly and making sure that they have received the invoice. One thing that is worth avoiding, is sending the invoice and forgetting about it. If an invoice is about to come due, it is worth sending a notice to the customer. They are unlikely to be thrilled about needing to make a payment, even if they are the ones who forgot it.
The best way to get paid quickly, however, is by prevention. Sprout Invoices makes sending invoices, accepting payments, and setting up recurring invoicing simple. One neat trick about Sprout Invoices is that it allows you to check if an invoice has been looked at yet or not. If it hasn’t, and a couple days have gone by, you can send a reminder or a notification. Eliminate excuses a person may have about making a payment. Sprout Invoices allows you to make payments quickly and easily, as well as the ability to send reminders. Sprout Invoices strives to help you get paid.