If you run your own business or a freelance service that you send invoices to your clients for, then you may be dealing with one of the most annoying issues that occur – unpaid invoices. No matter whether you’re running a business or are a sole trader providing a service on your own, it’s always better to find a prevention rather than a cure when it comes to invoices going unpaid. While it’s impossible for any business or freelancer to control how their clients respond to invoices, there are some changes that you can make to your own actions to encourage your clients to pay their invoices on time.

Before You Start Working with a New Client

Ideally you should start considering steps to get invoices paid on time before you even start working with a client. Before you take on your first order, there are several steps that you can take to make the invoicing process run more smoothly and keep your overall relationship with the client strong. Consider creating some invoice templates, look into various invoicing software programs that you can use, and set your expectations with your client from the beginning so that you are both clear on how and when invoices should be paid.

Automate as Much as Possible

It’s a good idea to get automated payment reminders in place before you even start dealing with a client who has not paid their invoice. Setting this up can help you avoid stress in the future and give you peace of mind that if a client doesn’t pay, your system will deal with it immediately. You can use Lob’s payment reminder automation tool to set up a payment reminder that will be sent out to any clients that do not pay an invoice after a certain amount of time has passed. Lob allows you to segment your client base, create payment reminder templates, and trigger an email to remind your client.

Use Cloud-Based Invoicing Software

Most business owners and freelancers are very busy people. Chances are that your days are filled with phone calls, working on projects, meetings, and even managing staff or other freelancers that work with you. Because of this, it’s a good idea to sign up for a cloud-based invoicing software program that will make your life easier. Even better if you can use it from your smartphone with an app, since this means that you can easily send invoices at any time from a device that is best for you, and your client will get the invoice immediately. Along with this, a cloud-based software allows you to avoid the hassle of tracking paper invoices for multiple clients, making it easier for you to determine who’s paid and who hasn’t.

Discuss Invoicing with Your Client

There are several things that can delay or hinder the process of sending and having an invoice paid, so it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your client as early on in the process as possible to make sure that you know where to send invoices to, who is responsible for paying the invoices, and if the business has a payment day that they will usually pay their freelancers and suppliers on. It is usually important to be flexible with your clients as you are more likely to have your invoices paid on time if you have agreed upon a certain date that works well for both of you from the start.

Use Online Payment Systems

Just like online and cloud-based invoicing software makes it easier for you to send and deal with invoices to your clients, it’s worth looking into any ways that you can make it easier for your clients to make prompt payments to you. Online payment services are an ideal option as they make paying invoices easier for clients, and the easier it is for your client to make the payment, the sooner they are likely to get it done.

Send Invoices Quickly

Once you have finished the work that you agreed to do for the client, it’s a good idea to send out your invoice as soon as possible. Studies have found that invoices that are sent out almost immediately after the work is completed tend to be paid faster compared to those that are sent out days or weeks afterwards. There are several potential reasons for this – firstly, sending the invoice as soon as possible means that your client can see you are eager to continue your relationship with them, along with the fact that when the invoice is sent quickly, the service you have provided is more likely to be fresh in your client’s mind, making them more likely to pay right away.

Don’t Fully Deliver Work Until It’s Complete

One of the most important strategies to know when you are working with various clients is to hold off on completely delivering the entire project until you are paid. For example, this could mean sending over a graphic that is watermarked, and only removing the watermark upon receipt of payment. Wherever possible, finding a way to avoid delivering the completed, final project is a sure way to encourage clients to pay so that they can have the finished product in their hands as soon as possible.

Offer Payment Plans

If you do work for clients that you charge a lot for, then a payment plan can be an ideal way to help out a client that is struggling to pay. Since this might not be something that they will admit to, you may want to consider offering options for making payment on your invoice. For example, they may be able to choose between paying in full now or spreading the payment over three months depending on which they prefer. This can make it easier to collect payments although you will need to wait longer until you receive the full amount.

Working with clients that you invoice isn’t always easy, especially when they forget to pay. With these strategies, you can improve the relationship with your client and encourage fast payments.