Invoicing that sloooooow client

I’ve been in a lean period. I have a returning client that has given me frequent work over the years. They are however notoriously slow - both in terms of moving projects along (they tend to vanish for weeks at a time) and paying up on their invoices (I’ve waited as long as 3 months+ sometimes). In a perfect world I would probably let them go, but, like I said, I don’t have a lot in the pipeline right now and they are pleasant enough to work with otherwise.

In an effort to remedy some of this, I have decided to send the them weekly invoices for work done - like a time card almost - rather than doing the traditional third, third, and a third. That way if they disappear for a few weeks, at least I have some sort of invoice being processed.

I just sent my first “weekly” invoice a few minutes ago. The deed is done. My question is, do you think this is out of line? Too pushy? I think my reasoning is sound but have I overstepped a line?

Thanks for your feedback.

Getting weekly invoices might confuse them given that it’s unusual. So if they don’t pay in a week, what will you do, send them a new invoice/statement listing the previous balance plus any new fees incurred? What if you don’t do any work for them in a given week, would you still send them a new statement saying payment wasn’t made over the past week. A weekly schedule also increases (practically ensures) that invoices and payments will cross in the mail.

In other words, there’s lots of potential for confusion, mix-ups and annoyance in all of this given that most companies work on monthly billing cycles. You probably don’t want them to see you as badgering them.

If it were me (and maybe it’s not possible with this client), I’d have a discussion without them about the need to tighten up the schedules given that you have to be able to allocate your time efficiently and with some reasonable assurance of when things will happen. I mean, it’s unreasonable for a client to expect a contractor to sit around just waiting for them to call or email. Do you ever need a plumber or an electrician? They fit you into their schedule, when they’re available — not the other way around.

You should have had a discussion with the client to see what works better for them before switching to weekly invoices. Weekly might just give them more paperwork rather than getting you paid quicker.

We don’t know if the client doesn’t have the cash to pay you, is just slow at paying or something else.

If I had a client that hadn’t paid their monthly invoices for 3 months, their account would be put on hold until paid up. In most cases, I’ll be paid immediately, especially if they have urgent design work to do. They know they have done bad by you if they are not paying invoices. You are within your rights to refuse service for overdue accounts. It’s good business practice.

Some clients, you’ll need to request a half deposit BEFORE you start. That may help in these situations.

Some clients only pay once a month. If you get your pay app in late, you wait until the next month, and then you might wait the additional 30 days because you aren’t a high enough “priority” vendor to be paid immediately.

Some clients pay on 90 days rather than 30 or 60 no matter what anyway.

A weekly invoice is pretty much unheard of. Billing is usually done monthly.

You might do better asking if you can be moved up the payment ladder, or finding out what day of the month they need your invoice in before, in order to get on that month’s pay schedule.

You can present any terms you want in your proposals. If they don’t like it, they can make a counter proposal. I wouldn’t unilaterally change the payment terms in the middle of a project though.

All of this should be in your contract… Require them to make a downpayment before you begin work. Divide the project into thirds or quarters. They make an additional payment at each benchmark. If they don’t respond to a proof within a certain time period, then you consider the project terminated, they pay a kill fee, and they lose the right to use the creative work you produced.

For new clients everything should be pay as they go until they establish a record of paying on time. You don’t have to automatically extend 30, 60 or 90 days of credit to anyone. Make them earn it. If they establish a record of paying on time, then I give them 30 days. I include late fees as part of my proposals. I charge 1% a month on overdue balances. If they want 60 days, tell them it’s a 2% surcharge, or 3% surcharge for 90 days. It’s an additional revenue stream for you.

Accept credit card payments. Then you get your money in full, and if they need more time to pay they can work that out with their credit card company.

©2019 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook