As any independent contractor can confirm, clients can’t always be depended on to process payments in a timely manner. Fortunately, late payments from slow-paying client are generally the result of simple oversight as opposed to genuine maliciousness on the part of clients. Whether you’re new to contracting or have been self-employed for years, it’s important to know how to react when faced with late payments. Being overly passive is liable to result in more waiting, and taking a combative approach won’t do you any favors with your professional contacts. Contractors searching for a suitable middle ground are urged to take the following steps when dealing with late-paying clients.
1. Re-Send Your Invoice
Re-sending your invoice is the first step you should take when a payment isn’t processed on an agreed-upon date. There are a number of reasons invoices aren’t received – oversensitive spam filters and general inattentiveness chief among them. As such, it’s important to give clients the benefit of the doubt and re-send invoices before becoming perturbed. Furthermore, contractors who wish to exude an air of professionalism should use ready-made templates when creating invoices. Not only will this save you a great deal of work, it will ensure that your invoices have a sleek, professional appearance. Anyone on the hunt for a high-quality template will appreciate being able to download this professional estimate for free.
2. Reach out to Professional Contacts
Most contractors have at least one contact at the companies with which they regularly do business. In most cases, these individuals serve as a window to specific clients. That being the case, if re-submitting an invoice fails to get a payment, it’s in your best interest to reach out to your contact at the company in question. Even if this person isn’t directly in charge of processing payments, odds are they can pass along your message to the people that are. When touching base with your professional contacts, it’s imperative that you maintain a calm and even tone. Being miffed about a late payment is perfectly understandable, but projecting this onto your contacts is liable to make them think twice about sending work your way in the future.
3. Give it Time
Unfortunately, you can’t always handle late payments in a timely manner. Although many companies treat this issue with a great deal of importance, others take a much laxer approach. Regardless of how justifiable your frustration is, you should keep your cool. Give late-paying clients at least a week to resolve the problem before taking more drastic measures. If a payment is more than a month late, cease work on all ongoing projects until you receive your money. Depending on how much money is at stake, you may also want to consider speaking with a lawyer.
Dealing with late payments is an unavoidable part of working as an independent contractor. Luckily, bringing unprocessed payments to clients’ attention and collecting your money doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Contractors looking to take the hassle out of payment collection would be wise to heed the previously discussed pointers.