Keep money drama at bay by making it easy for your clients to give you faster payments.
Chasing down clients for money you’re owed is irritating to say the least. You’re likely familiar with this scenario: You finish a job and send your client an invoice, twiddle your thumbs for weeks (sometimes months) and wait for a payment to come through. And then there’s the angst while you wait…
Freelancers spend far too much time internally debating whether or not to remind their clients that they owe payment. And even when they decide to, they struggle with the how:
- Text or e-mail?
- Pick up the phone
- Find them on Facebook and send them a ‘wave’ with a dollar sign emoji?
What’s more, when your money finally arrives, you need to add the time it takes to get to the bank and deposit a paper cheque. Surely there’s a better way.
There is! And, no, it’s not mind-controlling your clients. Here are a few small, but key, steps you can take to ensure money gets in your pocket, sooner.
1. The Obvious One: Send the Invoice Sooner!
We may be quick to blame the client for tardy payment. But have you ever been paid late because you lagged in sending the invoice? Heck, I’ve waited so long that I never ended up invoicing my client at all!
Drawing up an invoice for a client shouldn’t be a dreaded task you save up for once a month, or even something you feel you need to spend much time on. Finding an invoicing solution that allows for you to breeze through the process will leave you more time to do take on new clients, projects and scope. Or, to kick back and relax every now and again.
Look for a program with the following features:
- An easy professional-looking template you can use again and again
- The ability to send invoices from your mobile device
Then stay on top of your invoicing. As soon as your client accepts the work is final, send an invoice. Odds are they’ll be timelier with payment if you’re timely with invoicing.
2. Don’t Forget Due Dates and Payment Terms
You can’t expect to get paid quickly if you aren’t crystal-clear with your payment terms. Whether you require the payment upon invoice receipt or if you expect it within the ‘magical 21 days’, this should be glaring to your client.
The wording of your terms can also have an impact on your payment coming through faster. What we learned through a study of our paying customers is that the politer you are in the wording, the quicker you’ll get paid. Giving some time to pay (21 days seems to be the sweet spot) also, ironically, resulted in quicker payment.
Look for a platform that offers:
- Terms you don’t have to type manually on each invoice
- Due dates alongside the invoice issue date
This will ensure that your clients are well aware of when their payment is expected and will thwart any notion they had to claim they weren’t clear on the expectations.
3. Automate Invoicing Whenever You Can
How much time do you spend on repeating the same billing task over and over again? From manually drawing up the same invoice again and again for your recurring clients to sending out reminder e-mails when your payment hasn’t arrived on time, there’s a better way to accomplish these tasks so that you can be more productive and ultimately receive payments quicker.
Gone are the days where ‘set it and forget it’ is a phrase reserved exclusively for the Showtime Rotisserie. Billing platforms that allow you to automate repetitious tasks are readily available.
Look for software that allows you to:
- Generate invoices that recur automatically (if you ever bill on a subscription basis)
- Generate and send late payment reminders to your clients automatically
- Apply late fees to outstanding invoice balances automatically
Your to-do list is big enough already and fretting over how and when to remind a client to pay their invoice is stressing at best. Automating your invoicing means that you can forget to send a bill or nag a delinquent client.
4. Make it a Cinch for Clients to Pay You (and for you to receive the funds)
People are more likely to complete a task when it’s glaring and easy. If you’re limiting payment options to methods that take more effort, you’re less likely to have your client pay your invoice in a timely manner. How many times lately have you waited in a grocery store lineup while someone cuts a check?
Online payment options have come a long way since the early days of eBay where PayPal was the only option. Payment processors are readily available and often connect to invoicing software so that your clients can navigate the payment process in a snap.
Look for the following in a payment processing solution:
- Functionality for a wide range of card types
- Ability for your clients to pay from any device using the latest methods (mobile pay is becoming more and more of a thing)
Choose software that offers these features for you:
- Quick processing times
- Automatic transfers to your bank account
Waiting for your clients to pay is half the battle. Using a processor and allows for quick and simple deposits into your bank account can cut down the time you have to wait for the dough significantly. Do away with cash flow worries and sit back while the money rolls in, or don’t sit back and keep focusing on the work you love doing.
5. Make Paying Your Invoices a Great Experience for Clients
Great invoicing software will be just as focused on your clients as it is in your business. The experience should be optimal from receiving the invoice to making a payment. If the engagement your client has with the program is delightful and memorable, the apter they’ll be to pay quickly – not only that, they may choose your services again over your competitors!
For a great experience to your clients, find an invoicing tool that:
- Allows multiple ways for you to send invoices
- Provides a straightforward payment form
- Allows your clients to open (and pay) invoices on any device
- Has customizable, crisp invoice templates
- Provides tools for quick and easy communication
It’s a bit much to say that you should ‘surprise and delight’ your client with your invoices. After all, it’s a bill they ought to pay. For them, the key to a good experience is a crisp, professional-looking invoice sent in a timely manner. For you, the key to getting paid faster is making the payment process as effortless as possible
Getting paid on time is one of the biggest struggles business owners and freelancers will face. Providing a great experience ‘from invoice receipt to payment complete’ can alleviate stress so you can spend more time doing what you love and less time worrying about your cash flow. Moving to a cloud-based invoicing/accounting program can provide the perfect solution, giving you the necessary tools to get paid fast right from the point of generating your client’s invoice.
There are lots of options out there, many of which offer free trials and e-learning tools to help you master the software quickly. Taking advantage of these will allow you to determine which program is the best fit for your business. Once you’ve discovered the right program for you, you can kiss your payment woes goodbye.
about the author
Colin is a Director of Support at FreshBooks. He brings a unique perspective to the FreshBooks blog with his extensive background in people management and customer service. Fun fact: He is also a ‘serial hobbyist’ with collections ranging from taxidermy to vintage sunglasses.