Third in a series.
When it comes to getting paid for her photography, New Yorker Giovanna Grueiro has a system. You should too.
In this installment of our series, we’ll explore how having a plan to get paid for each job will keep your businesses — and your client relationships — healthier.
For Grueiro, it seems to be about staying on schedule.
“Typically there is a deadline for each payment,” she says. “The deadline is usually a month after the project has been completed and ready to deliver. There are reminder e-mails with the invoice and statement attached.”
To make payment easier, she says, she includes information on paying online through services like PayPal.
Her reminder e-mails go out three days after the deadline, with a warning about her late fees if payment is five days late. At five days after the deadline, another e-mail goes out, with a new invoice that includes the late fees.
“So on top of not receiving the photos right away there are penalty costs,” says Grueiro, who adds, “I have never gone so far as to take a client to small-claims court.”
Blogger Erin Russell, writing for Biz 3.0, also reminds us to amend contracts to reflect changes.
“Changes will happen in every job you do. People change, project goals change, contracts get bigger, contracts get smaller. You should address these changes in the contract. Ideally each change should cost the company or client money.”
Her sound advice takes us through the entire process of obtaining payment:
“Stay on top of your bookkeeping, and if certain clients aren’t paying their bills, politely let them know service will be discontinued. While this only works for ongoing projects, it will prevent a customer from racking up a debt they’ll never be able to pay. In other words, it prevents you from pouring time and effort into a project you won’t be compensated for.
“Have a letter written, saved, and ready to send for this circumstance. Using the same letter every time will take away some of the situation’s stress and allow you to respond quickly. After a week of nonpayment, a short reminder letter is appropriate. Within this timeframe, the bill might have slipped a client’s mind or there may be a holdup with their financial department.
“Five days after sending a polite reminder, pick up the phone and call the client if they still haven’t paid. You should have obtained contact information for the person who would be paying you at the outset – this is when you use it. Ask your contact about the status of your invoice, and be sure to get a specific date when they plan to send payment.
“If no one answers, leave a message and follow up with email. Your communication should show rising levels of concern as time goes by, but maintain a professional, objective tone.”
Russell concludes, “If you regard yourself as a professional then you and the companies you work for should treat you that way.”