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Wikipedia: How to Get Clients to Pay Invoices Promptly June 19, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

My iGoogle page has once again provided an interesting tidbit. Today’s “How To of The Day” is “How to Get Clients to Pay Invoices Promptly.” As someone who has $1000 in overdue invoices and almost $2000 due within the next week, I was very curious to see what they had to say.

Their tips include:

  1. Make your payment policies clear at the time your services
    are retained.
  2. Accept all forms of payment and encourage credit card
  3. Get a deposit in advance.
  4. Always let the customer pay when they offer.
  5. Make arrangements for payment before you deliver the final
  6. Follow up every day until you receive your money.
  7. Apply your payment policies to every single customer.
  8. Contact the credit agencies.

I have only quoted the highlights. I highly suggest clicking on the above link and reading the whole article.

I agree with most of the points, but unfortunately in our business some of the points don’t apply. First of all, I don’t know many translators who are willing to accept credit cards (I know there are a few who rely on PayPal and/or Moneybookers, but I personally can’t justify the fee). Getting a deposit in advance or payment before delivery is all well and good if the client is a direct client, but I don’t know many (if any) translation agencies that are willing to accept either of those practices. I also disagree with following up every day until you get paid. I generally wait a week or two before I send out a reminder. Once the invoice is over 30 days late I will write an e-mail every week or every couple days. If it were ever to get more than 45 days late I think I would then start writing them every day and being a total pain.

Luckily I haven’t had to worry about this much. I do my due diligence before accepting work from a new client (I subscribe to Payment Practices and Zahlungspraxis [a German-language payment practices list] and ask for referrals from several of their translators if the agency isn’t listed on one of those lists) and generally only work with clients with whom I have a good relationship. In the rare cases that an invoice has been almost 30 days overdue it is usually because the project manager or accounting has misplaced or lost the invoice – or at least claims they have and assure me that it will be processed as soon as possible.

The bullet item I would probably add would be: “9. Submit invoices either with the job or immediately after you have submitted the job.” I’ve found most agencies take 30 to 45 days to pay an invoice (and I refuse to work with agencies that have payment terms of 60 days or even 60 days EOM [end of month]). Why wait an additional 15, 20 or 30 days because it took you that long to send them the invoice in the first place?

Do you have any tips you have found to be helpful for being paid promptly by your clients? I definitely want to hear them!



1. Merra Lee Moffitt - April 10, 2009

In a recession, the problem of fast payment gets even worse. Clients that used to pay in 30 days are going to 45. Here are some more tips on getting paid faster.

10 Invoicing Tips for Rapid Cash Flow

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