Are your WordPress clients not paying you?
Do you have outstanding invoices? Who is keeping on top of your accounts receivables (AR)?
If even those questions overwhelm you, I’d like to help.
Here are some tips to better collect payment from your clients.
I spent twenty years in accounts receivable and collections in trucking, roofing, and with a general contractor. These were all business to business relationships (not retail.) I don’t advise on retail collections.
When I was in roofing I had less than 4.5% of the receivables over 45 days. Our suppliers were net 60. I was kind of a hero in AR. So, with the bragging, not a humble brag — an actual one, aside, let’s get to some tips.
Collections is the Last Recourse. Prevention is Key.
Here is the basic order of things.
- Manage expectations.
- Have a contract.
- Verify you sent the invoice to the right person.
- Send statements and reminders.
- Start collections sooner than later.
I know that seems simple, but about 70% of all collections issues I’ve encountered were because of these types of mistakes.
It’s important to be friendly in tone and with your voice, even if you have to escalate. As Samantha Zehngut said in her WordCamp Orange County talk, “Sell the joy of paying your bill.”
— Jeffery Patch (@JeffDoozy) June 11, 2017
Also: You should watch this.
Step 1: Email
Send an email asking for help with the invoice.
Yes. Ask for help. I start with “Can you help me?” People like to be the hero. This is emotional. They want to help. Make it more about them and less about you. It’s not a conflict — yet. It could be a simple mistake.
Remember that everyone is doing their job. You have no idea what kind of family or business pressure they’re under. You don’t know if they were told to cut the check but not allowed to mail it. Be kind.Always be kind when you're asking to be paid. The kind people move to the front of the line. Click To Tweet
Step 2: Phone Call
Call and ask for the Accounts Payable department.
“Can you help me? I’d love to get this off our aging? Did you receive the invoice?”Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it shows empathy and fosters connection. Click To Tweet
Step 3: Mail
As the invoice begins to age more (45 days, 60 days), the tone in the conversations must also escalate. This means, you should start sending mail. Yes. Physical mail. On letterhead if you can.
People change jobs. Emails get lost. You get put in a junk folder. Your email is buried under 200 new ones. Mail is so rare, that it gets attention. Attention is what you want when you’re asking to be paid.Physical mail shows that you are serious. You have no idea if their email is working or if they're no longer employed. Click To Tweet
Step 4: Litigation
When it gets bad (90 days), I send a copy of the small claims form that I filled out. That way the client knows I’m serious. If it’s much more than small claims allows for your state, you can either consult your attorney or CPA. It may be cheaper to write it off as bad debt at that point.
Don’t be afraid of small claims. Most states walk you through the process online. Decide if you want to set your own personal boundaries. It’s okay. Really. I promise.
What’s the worst that could happen? You lose a client — a client who doesn’t pay.Don't be afraid of small claims. It's about setting your own boundaries. It's okay. Click To Tweet
I’ve been to Small Claims twice when I was in roofing and won both times because of the contract.
The judge said, “Did you agree to this work? Did they do the work? Did you pay? Then pay.”
Breathe. Bad debt happens.
Bad debt happens to us all. It’s a cost of doing business. But if you can stay under 5% bad debt, you’ll be golden.
- Make sure you’re sending the right invoice to the right person.
- Believe that you do deserve to be paid.
- Do not let the client bully you (scope creep).
- Stop work until you are paid. Be polite, but firm.
- Decide if you want to keep that client.
- Continue being awesome.
- I believe in you.