How To Get Payment From Clients

Although you might not think that getting payments from clients is anything to do with marketing, I would completely disagree. Because I think that there is nothing more demoralising that celebrating getting a new client and then finding that they do not pay. It can make you feel very low and be very stressful, which of course is not the ideal frame of mine to do more marketing or get more clients. 

So, knowing how to get payment out of a client is a vital part of your business and of your marketing. How then, do you set up your business to get payments easily out of customers? 

The first thing you need to do is adopt the right mind-set. If clients go into a contract with you knowing that you’ll let them get away with non-payment for a couple of months, they absolutely will take advantage of it. Make sure you set your mind set up so that clients know from the outset that non-payment or a delay in payment is not acceptable. 

I used to tell clients that they had to pay because we had a big dog, but since she sadly died a couple of years ago, I can no longer do that. So, I’ve changed this to “we know where you live”. Although I say this as a joke, people know that I’m very serious. 

I also will address delays in payment immediately because I absolutely hate non-payers and it annoys me if I have to chase someone, which is another mind-set shift too. 

The second thing is to set expectations right up front in writing. Make sure clients are very clear when they will be invoiced and when payment is due. All of our invoices are sent out at the beginning of the month and payment is expected within 14 days. We put this in our emails and a written contract and also say this verbally to a client just in case they decide to read the agreement without signing. 

The next thing to do is to make sure you have good payment procedures in place. This starts with being organised about sending out your invoices. No delaying this until you’ve got time – make sure you set a time in the month to sit down and do these and absolutely send them out as soon as possible.

All of our invoices get sent by email. That way, it’s quick, easy and it’s gone. If clients don’t receive it, no problem – I just send it again. 

Then reminders. As you’re approaching your payment deadline, we always send by email a gentle reminder email, reminding clients that payment is due. If the payment deadline passes, the next email is a firmer “Reminder about payment”. 

After this, if there is no response, we will have a phone call with the client asking if there is a problem. This will usually be a nice conversation, but asking what the problem is to get things sorted out. If payment is STILL not forthcoming, now is the time for a firmer chat. 

Finally, I’m resorting to letters and possibly the small claims court, but I think you’ll agree that I’ve given the client quite a few chances by this point. 

Having clear payment procedures in place, along with the mindset and setting expectations is the key to getting payment.

Something else that I’ve found works well is going to see the client and asking for payment while you’re there and also text messaging. For some reasons, maybe because phone and emails can be ignored, text messaging works really well. 

So try some of these ideas – but don’t put up with poor payers. It doesn’t do you or your other clients any favours.

About the author:
Exceptional Thinking provides advice and help to small businesses on their marketing and to people setting up in business.
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