This year is coming to an end soon, how was yours? It is time to start thinking about your goals for next year and your collaborations, and to decide whether you will continue and/or modify your agreements and partnerships. It’s already time to assess 2013 and to prepare the upcoming year! As far as I’m concerned, I have good clients that I enjoy working with and upcoming new and exciting collaborations!
Unfortunately, independent workers sometimes go through bad experiences with clients.
So far, I have been lucky about getting paid for my work. Only three clients did not pay for services rendered, despite work well done that they were quite happy about. At least we’re not talking about extremely large amounts (a few hundred dollars), but I’ve heard horror stories about VAs who were cheated out of many thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars after long hours of work and effort. Most of these situations have ended up in court.
My first situation was a misunderstanding. A “go-ahead” had been given to quickly by my contact, with no follow-up, which resulted in the client refusing to pay when I sent him the finished work. I’m just glad this client was respectful enough not to use my work without paying for it. Lesson learned: obtain a written “go-ahead” before starting any project, or ask for payment before returning the finished work. Result for the client: his English website is horribly translated, and he has decided to leave it that way, which is completely within his rights.
The second client probably had no intention of paying in the first place for the revision work that he commissioned on his self-published book. He was a friend of a friend, therefore I trusted the reference. He agreed to my conditions for payment, and our relationship was positive, our collaboration went well, but then he kept changing our meeting date for payment and changing the conditions, avoiding my messages and calls, and avoiding me. He ended up only paying half the amount at his launching because I showed up in person and he was in no position to stiff me in front of his readers. The other half has still not been paid, almost two years later.
The third client both surprised and discouraged me. We have a signed agreement, this person was very happy with the work that was done, but has not paid for services rendered and billed several months ago. Even worse, this person never returns my calls, e-mails or social media messages and has moved without giving a forwarding address. Two other VAs are going through the same treatment by this client, as are many other suppliers and clients and still, this person will not return our calls.
I know clients can experience hard times, financially, but you have to realize that the message you are sending to your VA when you refuse to pay for work that was well done and to your satisfaction, is that you have no respect for her as a professional. The message you are sending to your clients and to the business world when you act like this, is that you are not a professional, you are not serious and you are a bad risk. Nobody will want to work with you in the future, as the news gets around.
I no longer work with these clients. They are not part of my newsletter subscribers and I’m fine with this.
I appreciate and respect my clients, I am fair with my billing, I pay my own bills on time and always pay my suppliers and partners quickly. It would never occur to me not to pay for a service well done. And if I am unable to pay immediately, I will contact them to make arrangements.
Think about it before entering into an agreement with your VA, and if you appreciate her and she does a good job, show her by paying on time and by telling her that you appreciate her work. Keep the lines of communication open, this is the basis of a good relationship.
Great post! It’s so frustrating not being paid for work that’s already been completed. I’ve had a lot less of that happen to me since I began adding 3% per month to invoices that are overdue by 30 days.. I’ve written it into my client agreements and have only ever had to actually charge it once. I send reminders of the amount that will be added to their invoice before the 30 day past due date arrives and usually receive payment promptly after a reminder. No one wants to pay more than they agreed to and they are aware that the interest will keep accumulating until it’s paid. I implemented this after it took 6 months for someone to pay for a website I designed for them.
Maybe you’re already doing this, but I thought I’d share just in case.
Great advice. Yes I already have an agreement that my clients sign now, and that stipulates invoices are to be paid upon receipt. I also have interest that accumulates after 30 days and this is clearly indicated on my invoices. I send a reminder after 30 days and then regular reminders with interest.