As a tradesman, there’s nothing worse than completing a job only to be given the run-around when it comes to a client paying up. Here are a few handy tips for how to firmly but politely ensure you get paid for the work you’ve done.Set Clear Payment Dates
Before agreeing to carry out any work for a client or signing any contracts, be sure to make your terms clear and set out clears dates for when payment is expected. Doing this will let your client know right out of the gate that you have a clear expectation for them upholding their end of the contract.
On your invoices make sure to include another copy of the terms, the expected date of payment and the penalties the client can expect if they fail to meet the agreements.
Research shows that on average invoices are paid two weeks late. A handy tip to help combat this is to bring forward your expected payments date for the client. So, if you are looking to be paid in 30 days, set their payment days for 15 days. This way, even if the client is late in paying you, you are likely to be still paid when you expected.Keep Thorough Records
One way to ensure payment is to keep a copy of all receipts for your business as well as a note of why the purchases were made and why they were essential to the job. This will prevent any clients from trying to argue that added expenses or material costs aren’t applicable.
It’s also sensible to keep receipts and copies of any documentation in case things get to the stage where legal action is required, as you will need to be able to prove your agreements and disputed costs should this become the case.Offer Repayment Incentives
Consider offering incentives for early repayment. A reward can be a powerful incentive for most people, so why not consider offering some form of reward for clients who pay their invioces early?
Alternatively, if a client expresses that they are having difficulty with the repayment date, paying a lump sum or are having difficulty with a payment method, try to be flexible (within reason).
Communicate with the client and discuss the most cost-effective way they can pay. Perhaps that may be PayPal or online bank transfer instead of by cash or cheque. Or, perhaps the client would benefit from as agreed upon regular instalment plan instead?Polite Reminders
Sometimes life happens, and things do crop up that get in the way of clients paying their bills on time. When this does happen, don’t jump straight into panic mode. The issue could be easily explainable.
Give the client a quick and polite reminder email. Often this method is a lot more effective than resulting to conflict. Conflict with a client should always be the last resort, not the first.Know Your Rights
If things get to a point where a significant period has gone by and a client still refuses to pay it is important that you know you rights as a business.
Even if your initial contract with the client didn’t have late fees included as a clause, businesses in the UK can take advantage of The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998. This piece of legislation sees fixed penalties for late payments, in addition to interest payable at 8 % over Bank of England base rate.
For any debt of less than £1,000 the penalty is £40. This fee rises to £70 for debts up to £9,999.99 and £100 for any debt above £10,000.