To invoice my clients, I use an application called Fresh Books, formerly called Second Site – at least that is what it was called when I signed up. I’ve been a customer for about 2 years or so. I signed up as part of a move to organize my freelancing and provide better service to my clients. Plus I needed a brain dead easy way of sending out invoices – something quickbooks sucked at.
They contacted me yesterday to inform me that I am the top performer “Days to Receive Payment” in your category of “Web Design and Development”. And they wanted to ask me, how do I do it?
As my “How Web Sites Are Built” pre-sales document explains, I tend to be upfront about payment. My billing practices are pretty simple actually, and were forged in the 4 years of frustration I felt during the early days years of my consulting practice.
- If the project is a flat rate, and is under $500 – The client must pay up front.
- If its a flat rate, and greater than $500, then a retainer must be paid up front – generally 50%. Larger projects (greater than $5000) can be done in thirds, if the client’s budget requires it.
- If I’m billing hourly than, payment is due when services have been rendered. Basically when the code is in production.
- All other bills are due 7 days after they are received. Fresh Books lets me know when my clients view their Invoices, an indispensable feature.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Though being clear, and upfront about your billing practices is a major step in presenting yourself professionally. You can’t treat the money conversations with your clients like the pink elephant in the room that you’re not allowed to talk about. They are engaging you for services and they know you cost money and you know you charge money – so why act like you have to slip the bill under the door like hotels do? No one likes to wake up with a bill under their door, so quit hitting your clients with invoices like the hotel ninjas. Talk about any upcoming invoices, before they are sent, so that your clients know what to expect. Once they are expecting the bill – they will start to get themselves ready to pay it.
In other words, don’t make the only thing you talk about with your clients be the technical stuff, the business stuff is equally as important, and is a part of the reason I get paid so fast.
You also have to recognize your own value, and then ask for it. This demeanor alone is not off-putting, but empowering. Your clients realize that they hired one of the best in the industry – at least that’s what you told them when you closed the deal! This means providing world class support, especially in your Accounting and Receiving processes – so that your clients feel taken care of. And once they feel taken care of, they will be more than happy to pay their invoices with you.
It was an honor being recognized by the Fresh Books team as a leader in quick payment. Thank you for providing such a kick ass product!
To wrap up, I wanted to show you this Dilbert cartoon. The motto? Know what you’re worth. Price the value you provide accordingly. And then ask for it! Don’t just settle for a 2nd Monitor.