I am referring to invoicing your clients. And then ensuring that the invoices are paid on time, or at least before you are crippled with bank charges.
The best time to invoice if you have performed a service is the minute you return to the office after performance of said service. Not the next day, not the next week, and definitely not the next month! But, you know, many people do take their time. If you don’t believe me, check the liquidation and bankruptcy courts. Send your invoice by first class post and not in a window envelope this shows how important you consider your invoice is.
In the late sixties I had a thriving business in Oxford Street (London’s West End) just a few yards from South Molton Street. I costed out my services and then added ten percent to all my charges. I was offering a good reliable services and wasn’t frightened of price.
I would state on my invoice a discount. 10% if settled in full in 14 days. 5% within 21 days, and 1% within 30 days. The reason for the 1% is that large corporations always took at least 120 days and always took the discount anyway. This way they could only take the 1%. This left me 9% to put towards any bank charges needed for working capital caused through their delay to pay; I could live with that!
My first invoice would be labelled: “INVOICE/STATEMENT” and at the end of the month my statement would be labelled: “STATEMENT – FIRST REMINDER” The “First Reminder” bit looked more legal and if I hadn’t already received payment I used to very soon afterwards.
Others in the area charged less and, if I was about to lose a potential client over price, I would give him a sheet of paper with full details of all the opposition listed. I would say that when they were in a position to pay for my specialist services I would welcome them back. Meanwhile here are all the other local companies offering a similar service. Many of them did come back. I was only saving them a few moments of research time, but it was appreciated and labelled me as “helpful”.
Customers come and go and if I lost a client I would visit them and ask “Could you tell me how I fell short in our relationship? So I may not make a similar mistake again?” I learned that I never lost a client through “price” or “chasing money”. One magical phrase to use if you think you may be able to persuade the client to come back is “What might I do to have you return as a client”.
And make it easy for your clients to pay you. Accept all credit cards, accept PayPal, accept direct transfers. Cheques, even with bankers cards require caution, but if you know “where your clients live” then that shouldn’t be too much of a problem – otherwise a bankers card (and you must write the number on the back of the cheque). It helps with credit cards and cheques to see further identification as, if someone has stolen the card or chequebook, they may not have much other identification in that name on them.
And remember, if all else fails, there is always the small claims courts. Take a look at how easy this is on the Internet.