How to Get Clients to Pay on Time: Tips to Ask for Money on Deposits, Invoices, and Late Bills

Sean Lund-Brown

Running a small business, working as a freelancer, or handling a major corporation's financial department can invoke a lot of different feelings at various times. One of the most stressful and frustrating situations that you can face is dealing with customers that don't pay their bills on time or at all.

One unpaid invoice likely isn't going to collapse the entire company, but when you have several clients who aren't forking over the cash for the goods or services they've already received, it's just like being stolen from. It makes you hesitant to offer the same convenience of performing the job or handing over the products with the option of paying for it later. For the customers that do pay on time, you may cause them to go somewhere else if you eliminate the opportunity.

Ideally, every person you partner with on the business aspect will pay you upfront, or at the very least, on time. That's the cash flow you need to continue to operate. Without the revenue, you have trouble paying your own bills, and eventually, if you allow it to continue for too long, it could wind up costing you severely.

With Smith.ai's virtual receptionist services, a qualified customer care representative knows how to get you the money you're owed. The friendly demeanor expressed helps to boost trust and build stronger relationships with the clients on the other end. The customer service and support desk work to collect order numbers, invoices, and tickets, so that you can stay organized.

In addition, with a customizable service plan, you can select to have payment collection added to the services you wish for a specialist to manage, and you can spend your time focused on more urgent tasks. Are you interested in collecting a deposit upfront? Let us know the details, and we will take care of it when we schedule them on your calendar with our appointment scheduling professionals.

Put the receptionist at our business in charge of yours. You will get paid quicker, and your workload will be a lot less stressful. You can also follow these helpful tips for getting your customers to pay on time, put down necessary deposits, and catch up with their late bills without all the hassle.

Integrated deposits with appointment scheduling

Do you run a business that often deals with no-shows? In just about every industry, time is money. If you book an appointment with someone, you expect them to fill that slot, and if they don't show up, there's no way to make money off of your goods or services. You don't have an opportunity to sell to another patron, especially if your company runs off of appointments only.

With various software systems, appointment scheduling is put in the hands of the client. They pick the time and date that they want to come in, which automatically cuts down on the chances of them not showing up. On top of that, several of them, like Acuity Scheduling allow you to establish a deposit fee. That means, if clients want to book with you, they will have to put down some money to block off that time. Then, if they don't show up, you're not out near as much of what you would be otherwise.

Discuss your payment terms upfront

If you're working on a large project, or if you're an independent contractor, it's always a good idea to talk about your payment terms before starting. Clients will expect you to require some sort of down payment, and in most cases, half of the total cost is paid at the start, and the other half is paid upon completion. When your customers know what they are looking at in terms of the cost of finishing the job, they are more inclined to budget for it. Then, when you wrap up the work, they will have the money at their disposal, and they can pay you right away.

It's essential to set up a contract with clear-cut terms, regardless of your demands for payment. Being unorganized or uncaring about the money side of the business relationship will give your client the feeling that you're not worried about it, and then that's the same approach they will take when it's time to pay their bills.

Be sure that when you are drafting the terms of your payment expectations that you distinctly outline any penalties for late or non-payment. You don't want to send an account into collections or land in small claims court because the person you worked for says they weren't told the details.

Offer discounts for early payments

Who doesn't love a good discount? When you tell your clients ahead of time or include the details on their invoice of savings offered for early payments, you can almost guarantee that a greater percentage of your clients will pay you on time or even early.

If your invoices get sent out with a note that says payment due within 30 days, but you give a 3% discount if handled within the next ten days, people will jump at the opportunity.

Send out invoices right away

Your clients can't pay an invoice that they haven't received yet. Do you tend to wait until the end of the month and then send out all of your invoices at once? You might think that you're saving yourself time by grouping the task into one day but think about the customers you saw on the first day of the month.

They came in and got their product or services, and then several weeks went by without you sending them a bill. Either they forgot all about it by that point, or they don't think that you're too worried about getting paid promptly.

If it took you 29 days to send out the invoice, they're likely to drag their feet when it comes to sending you back the fee owed, if they send it at all. If the services or products that they acquired from you are already used up, there's a reasonable probability that the invoice they opened up from you is going right in the trash.

As soon as the customer leaves your building, if you haven't handed them a bill to take with them, you should have one sent that very same day, or at least within the next few. You can still clump your invoicing into a combined task, but don't wait any longer than a week.

You can skip the entire responsibility of handling invoices altogether if you hire a virtual receptionist from Smith.ai. Let us know the details of your billing, and we will get your invoices dealt with for you in a timely fashion. You won't ever have to contend with the customers that are refusing to respond to your billing request because our professionals handle everything.

Utilize automated notification systems

Today's technology allows for a variety of automated payment notifications to be incorporated into your existing CRM. Programs like Recurly, Chargebee, and Invoiced all offer different innovations that send out reminders and notification emails or SMS text messages to clients that owe you money.  

SMS Text Answering icon

You decide what features to utilize from things like:

  • Multi-period recurring billing
  • Payment processing
  • Recurring invoicing
  • Recurring subscription billing
  • Self-service portals

Of course, these types of services require your investment, but if you're finally getting paid in a timely fashion and in full, it's worth every penny in saved frustration, stress, and lost revenue.

Incorporate point of sale and automatic payment software

Most people walk around with a credit or debit card these days, and with the advancements in software programs for businesses like point-of-sale card readers, you can have your customers pay you right on the spot. In the past, it wasn't easy to make instant payments. If you were a freelancer, independent contractor, or someone that offered services on the road, there was no way to collect the money. Many corporations wouldn't allow, and still don't, employees to take cash from customers. It's too much of a risk in terms of theft and dishonesty.

At one time, taking a check was acceptable, but then writing insufficient ones that bounced started costing the companies that were taking them more money than they would have received initially. So, accepting a paper check is not as common anymore either.

Enter the point-of-sale card reader that can be clicked right into a smartphone, tablet, or another internet-connected device. If your existing CRM software includes the feature, you can have everything from the initial appointment booking through the final point of sale individualized and organized within the system.

If you have a well-established relationship with your clients, their credit or bank information can be securely stored on these platforms as well. When they receive a service or order a product from you, it's automatically set to be deducted from the account they have on file. These types of programs eliminate the need to chase down customers or send out invoices entirely.

Hire a collection answering service

You may think it is sufficient enough to have someone on your staff do the bill collecting or even handle it yourself, but the truth is, the in-house employees and even some call centers can't work as efficiently as an answering service. Call centers often don't have the same capabilities when it comes time to collect the money owed. Even if they do have the clearance, your business's chances of being at the top of their priority list aren't always there.

The people you already have working for you have the convenience of sitting in your building making the calls, and you're already paying them, so why not go that route? For one, they aren't likely to have the skill and training required to handle some of the more stubborn clients. Besides, if they are using all of their time on the phone, they aren't available to assist you with the job you hired them for.

If you're already working with an answering service, like Smith.ai, they probably offer a bill collection service. You've already built a relationship with them, and they know your company and your expectations. The integrated payment collection options mean that when they do get the client to pay, it's automatically put into your account, and there's nothing left for you to worry about.

Get paid faster with Smith.ai!

When your business is operating at full force, the last thing you should have to worry about is the money coming in. Your spending all your time and energy on making sure you're successful, so the cash flow should support that same idea. Instead of lying awake at night wondering how you're going to pay your bills, have the reassurance everything is adequately taken care of by implementing these helpful tips and tricks on collecting late payments and deposits and making sure that your invoices are getting paid on time.

The receptionists at Smith.ai are available to work behind the scenes for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That means if your reach expands into different time zones, we have an expert dealing with the people you can't reach during your regular business hours. With various payment software integrations like LawPay, TrialPay, Square, and PayPal, the transactions handled from our desks are guaranteed to be safe and secure.

Calendar illustration, Calendly

Are you tired of wasting hours of every week chasing down late payments? Then reach out to our team to schedule your initial complimentary consultation. Our professionals will help to customize a plan that suits your business and your demands. If you're too busy to answer incoming alerts or trying to contract with new inbound leads to increase your profits, we have highly-trained individuals who will sort through the calls and filter out the spam, sending you only the people who have the potential to earn you more. To learn more, you can email us and get a quick response at hello@smith.ai or speak to someone right away by calling (650) 727-6484.

Sean Lund-Brown

Sean Lund-Brown is a current Marketing Assistant for Smith.ai. A graduate from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Sean graduated with a BA in Music and an individualized degree in Teaching Vocal Pedagogy.

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