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  • #999757
    Tom ISW
    Member
    • Total posts: 180

    Hi all,

    Ever heard the phrase “one rule for me, another rule for thee?” Here’s my story:

    I’ve had a long term client – over a year now – and lately they’ve become more delinquent in paying their invoices.

    I work in a deadline driven industry – copywriting – and they expect me to file copy on time and in full when they hire me. However they aren’t extending the same courtesy when it comes to paying invoices by the due date.

    I’ve expressed my displeasure at having to chase them but they still persist. I said I was getting tired following them up every single month. They apologised and said they’d do better, but haven’t.

    They aren’t a major client, but at the same time, I value all my clients. Would it be remiss of me if I “dropped” them over this issue?

    I’ve been told I’m not the most diplomatic when it comes to matters like this (by people with fuses so long it would make Wile E. Coyote envious) so I’d like to open it up to the talented FS folk for some advice.

    Thanks!

    #1221251
    Lucy Kippist
    Member
    • Total posts: 230

    Hi Tom, this is a great question (are you okay for me to publish this as article on the Flying Solo homepage?)

    Deadline creep is hugely annoying and I can understand your frustration. I think that if you feel you have communicated ample times but have not seen any behaviour changes, you’re well in your rights to ‘drop’ them, as you say.

    If they follow up you have enough evidence there to provide a good explantation.

    Keen to hear what others think on this too.

    #1221252
    Tom ISW
    Member
    • Total posts: 180
    Lucy Kippist, post: 267179, member: 98720 wrote:
    Hi Tom, this is a great question (are you okay for me to publish this as article on the Flying Solo homepage?)

    Deadline creep is hugely annoying and I can understand your frustration. I think that if you feel you have communicated ample times but have not seen any behaviour changes, you’re well in your rights to ‘drop’ them, as you say.

    If they follow up you have enough evidence there to provide a good explanation.

    Keen to hear what others think on this too.

    Yes of course! Thanks for the advice too.

    #1221253
    Paul – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 3,115

    I think it would help you to think of being paid in a different way than meeting copywriting deadlines – there ARE different forces at play and it is important to recognise them.

    I find it unhelpful to me personally to live in the “Land of Shoulds” – this is where you spend a lot of time getting angry over things that “should” happen versus working out what works best relative to what does happen.

    As a Copywriter, you have to meet deadlines – thinking about them in any other way will just not work at all.

    Getting paid on time on the other hand is a a strange mixture of process, communication, understanding and using judgement as well as where you are situated re: your own cashflow.

    I favour having a “buffer” amount in my bank account so that whether a customer pays on time or not, does not affect me in any practical way week to week or month to month. This helps to take the heat out of the emotions connected to getting paid.

    What I am left with is basically, how to solve a puzzle.

    I have found the absolute best way to get paid on time is find out what the mechanical process the company uses to pay invoices – for example, if the company uses an outside Bookkeeper to make payments, talking to that person id Gold!. Get their number!!

    Some companies pay on the basis of your invoice date so for example if date your invoice on the 30th of the last month, versus on the 1st of the next month, you will be paid 30 days earlier using the former protocol.

    Obviously, having processes to jump on late payment early and consistently is also important – you want to be first in line, not last in line in getting paid. It sounds like you already have this in hand.

    Dropping the client seems extreme to me if you always get paid eventually. However, if your pain point is high enough, your cashflow low enough and have prospects of replacing the client, then go for it.

    #1221254
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,472

    Wait to get their next payment in.

    Then dump them one day before their next deadline is due.

    Feed them a little of their own bad manners and see how they feel.

    .

    #1221255
    Tom ISW
    Member
    • Total posts: 180

    [USER=78928]@Paul – FS Concierge[/USER] thanks for your reply.

    I agree – living in the land of “shoulds” and covert contracts is just folly.

    However this is not an acute, but a chronic condition that’s been going on for most of this year. I’ve offered alternative payment dates, sent reminders, called them up, asked if I should send invoices to accounts payable instead; but nothing seems to work.

    I suppose my question is this: how much of my time should I spend chasing up ONE delinquent client, EVERY month? Especially when they ask me for more work and expect me to meet their deadlines while they consistently ignore mine?

    At what point is it not worth it? At what point am I losing my self-respect as a professional?

    #1221256
    bb1
    Participant
    • Total posts: 4,472
    Tom ISW, post: 267189, member: 54379 wrote:
    At what point is it not worth it? At what point am I losing my self-respect as a professional?
    I think you have definitely reached that point, for you to be asking the question on the forum, they have pushed you to far, use my approach above.
    #1221257
    RunicConvenience
    Member
    • Total posts: 186

    I think at the end of the day once you have them payed to full. approach the next project with a new contract.

    hey,
    So I have been providing valuable copy for you and always met the required deadline so would like to move into a new contract where you pay at the start of the job. than I will fill the work and submit it. I have shown to be great with deadlines and so far I have a lot of business right now and we are all working with this system now a days.

    essentially word it better and all but then your not firing them or telling them to take a hike. your letting them either put the money upfront or source a new “copywriter”

    #1221258
    LucasArthur
    Participant
    • Total posts: 3,158

    This is a great question, and on the merits of the actual question of should you drop them as a client because of the prolonged payment scenario you keep experiencing? Well, i feel each and every one of us will answer this differently (as have above)…

    What i mean is, as you have written about it i would already assume you are on the cusp of considering what to do with them and if they are worth having if you need to invest considerable time chasing payments.. I too would be questioning this..

    As Paul says, i tend to work loosely with most clients and build a buffer to accomodate some feet dragging from time to time. Although if a customer feels its necessary to re-write the payment terms each and every time, i would be revising my relationship with them more so for the lack of respect to the service etc etc we had agreed upon over and above the actual money side..

    Its really personal on what point you draw the line, bit like speeding.. some justify over extending a little, and some do not.. Im black and white most times with the rare very rare touch of grey entering into the equation. If you say you will do something, i expect it done.. Same as if i say i will do something, i like to think i will do it as promised and if a deadline is in place possibly before that expires as well..

    Whilst its nice to have customers, its not nice having that ill feeling some get having to ask for what is already theirs.. If its a 30 day account, why is it acceptable to push beyond this each time? Again, as Paul says, it does pay to know the machine operating the payments as well (eg builders/tenders etc are unique) so that you know the expectations are within guideline to industry as well.. BUT if they are literally just dragging their feet, well, those feet can be pointed towards the exit sign for me though…

    If someone doest respect you enough to abide by what was agreed too, do you really want them to push your buttons every invoice?

    Jason

    #1221259
    Paul – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 3,115

    Hi Tom,

    Your self respect is an emotional response – that doesn’t make it invalid but it does complicate the matter quite a lot

    I think you should strip it back to a business decision.

    In my business, I have cut supply until X payment has been made. I even had one client that paid in advance for my services and at other times, I have just worn late payments as a given (for example, where the customer always pays – but just pays late).

    At the same time, because I can scale up to infinity, I have had a think about what Accounts Receivable costs me across the business and try to reflect these costs in the rates I charge. Like [USER=53375]@bb1[/USER] , I look for red flags and charge more where there are signs that the customer might be problematical.

    I used to get riled up about late payments but have come to accept that it is just part of the business landscape and have tried to work on a strategy that best meets my business goals.

    It may be an opportune time to re-think your rates generally because they probably do not include allowances made for things like this – but things like this are part of the normal business landscape.

    This whole discussion ties in nicely with [USER=5318]@JamesMillar[/USER] ‘s thread about pricing:

    https://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php?threads/is-dynamic-pricing-or-contextual-pricing-unfair.46513/#post-267177

    #1221260
    Greg_M
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,691
    Tom ISW, post: 267178, member: 54379 wrote:
    Hi all,

    Ever heard the phrase “one rule for me, another rule for thee?” Here’s my story:

    I’ve had a long term client – over a year now – and lately they’ve become more delinquent in paying their invoices.

    I work in a deadline driven industry – copywriting – and they expect me to file copy on time and in full when they hire me. However they aren’t extending the same courtesy when it comes to paying invoices by the due date.

    I’ve expressed my displeasure at having to chase them but they still persist. I said I was getting tired following them up every single month. They apologised and said they’d do better, but haven’t.

    They aren’t a major client, but at the same time, I value all my clients. Would it be remiss of me if I “dropped” them over this issue?

    I’ve been told I’m not the most diplomatic when it comes to matters like this (by people with fuses so long it would make Wile E. Coyote envious) so I’d like to open it up to the talented FS folk for some advice.

    Thanks!

    When you say “lately”, that would start ringing alarm bells with me.

    It smells like they have their own cash flow problems. My experience has been that when ok payers become slow they’re often on the way out.

    If you can live without them, let them go.

    #1221261
    Paul – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 3,115
    Greg_M, post: 267207, member: 38207 wrote:
    When you say “lately”, that would start ringing alarm bells with me.

    It smells like they have their own cash flow problems. My experience has been that when ok payers become slow they’re often on the way out.

    If you can live without them, let them go.
    I have seen this pattern repeat too Greg and it is definitely something to take account of.

    I think I have had 4 customers go under in the last 5 or so years, each following the pattern you describe.

    #1221262
    JamesMillar
    Participant
    • Total posts: 1,675

    Double your fee and offer them a 50% discount if they pay in advance.

    #1221263
    Tom ISW
    Member
    • Total posts: 180

    All good suggestions, everyone. [USER=5318]@JamesMillar[/USER] especially! :) Here’s what I’ve sent the client:

    Hi [NAME],

    I hope you are well.

    I am writing you regarding consistent overdue invoices. As you know, my payment terms are 14 NET after the last Friday of the month.

    If this is unsuitable for you, please let Jane (cc’d in) to make alternative arrangements to best accommodate your payment cycles. If you have an accounts payable department, I can send invoices direct to them.

    As [my virtual assistant] has intimated to me, she spends much of her limited allocated time (she is only casual) chasing payments from (your company name). I have had to call you myself on occasion.

    I would like to keep our working arrangements as they are; I feel deadlines set by both parties should be respected as a matter of business courtesy.

    If this is agreeable to you please let me know.

    Regards,

    Tom

    If the client comes back with an apology, I’ll ask him to agree to a new contract with a set payment term and late fee (which I do with all new clients – like I said, I’ve been working with this client for a while.)

    If not, so be it.

    #1221264
    Dave – FS Concierge
    Moderator
    • Total posts: 2,523

    Hi Tom,
    Regardless of right and wrong, if it’s causing you grief drop them.
    There are a lot of hard parts about running your own business – but the freedom to not work with those who don’t treat you right is one of the biggest trump cards, so make sure you play it occasionally :)

    Plus they will turn you into a grumpier, probably less generous partner. You don’t need that.

    Dave

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