Here are a few things you can do to get your invoices paid quickly and easily by ad agencies and direct to brand clients.
*Chasing a late payment can be another beast altogether; for the moment, we will focus on preventing this from happening. I will follow up with Part 2 on collecting overdue payments.
Let’s Start with Purchase Orders
God bless you, you little line of digits. In my experience asking your client if you need to include their PO on your invoice has saved many headaches. It confirms the job is 100% signed off by the right people, the finance department is aware of you and is in anticipation of giving you money. Display the purchase order number in the top corner of your invoice.
Get Friendly with the Finance Department
Once your project is greenlit, ask if you need to get in touch with the client’s finance department to be set up as a supplier. Some finance departments need a form filled out or some additional billing information to pay you. By jumpstarting this interaction, you are ensuring their business has everything they need to send you money promptly.
Make sure the client is clear on your payment terms, and you are clear on theirs. Work together to come to an agreement that suits you both.
If you require a deposit best to flag this before kickoff. Some businesses only cut cheques on certain days of the month or can have other practices you may need to negotiate.
Terms & Conditions
Include your payment terms in the T&Cs of your estimates as clear and straightforward as possible. Your fine print can prevent difficult conversations like when you expect payment, if you charge interest when a payment is late, how much and how it’s calculated.
If your client is late on their payment, this allows the opportunity to draw their attention back to your terms and provide options of how you can move forward. I have found offering a payment ‘mercy’ date before the interest kicks in can help put speed in the step of a tarty cheque.
If you experience a red flag, get clarification as soon as possible. Asking in a casual ‘want to confirm’ or ‘to make sure we are all on the same page’ way can help clear up any misalignments before it’s an issue. This also supports a positive client experience in hopes of repeat business. The uncomfortable moment is well worth it in the long run.
That said if the red flag points to ‘abort,’ as in the client has poor business practices, it’s still important to deal with the issue professionally. It doesn’t take long in our industry to realize just how small it is and word gets around, even if your client is a jerk. Protect your business and brand from difficult clients by dealing with these situations with the most grace and professionalism you can muster. Then, once you know you have 100% ended your call and sent your email, you can swear to your heart’s content.
Your client will not be shy to ask you to deliver, don’t be shy to ask for your payment in return. A casual and friendly tone is best when talking about money, this may sound obvious, but if you’re uncomfortable, it’s likely coming across in the words you choose. Perhaps think of a friend when drafting an email or finding the right words, this can warm your tone and make the subject of money more approachable. If you are coming from a place where you sound like you are giving the client the benefit of the doubt they are less likely to be defensive or worse, avoid you.
Is there a go-to tactic you use to make sure your invoices get paid on time?
What has worked for you? Share your thoughts below.