Architects, Designers and Unpaid Invoices – Our 5-step guide to getting paid.
Talking money can be a difficult experience for many freelance architects and designers, so we have put together 5 simple steps which we hope will help you along the way.
- Agree payment terms at the outset. This could be stage payments for your percentage of the fee or dates and milestones for when payments are due. Doing this in an open and transparent way at the beginning of the process will ensure that all involved know exactly what is required, and most importantly when. This should therefore avoid any unnecessary disputes or bad feeling during or after the project.
- Set your process – In the same way that it is important to clarify your payment terms with your client, you should also have a consistent approach to chasing invoices. You could for example start with a polite email a few days after it is due, followed up by a phone call and so on. Whatever you choose to do, consistency is key. There are also some great IT based solutions out there which can handle most of the chasing for you.
- Don’t be afraid to chase unpaid invoices – Money is not a dirty word. In a stereotypically British way many of us feel embarrassed or impolite when we discuss our fees or late payments with our clients. There is nothing wrong with sending a polite reminder that an invoice is due. The reality is, your client has probably forgotten or it has slipped through the net, and in many cases they will be thankful for the reminder.
- Don’t get yourself in a tizzy – many of us get anxious or nervous about unpaid invoices and how our clients will react to being chased however there is no need to be. Think about how you feel when you are chased for payment – more often than not, many of us are thankful for the reminder, it merely slipped our mind in the busyness of life. On the balance of probability, your clients will share the same view. They know you’ve done a great job, and they know they have to pay for it.
- Pick up the Phone – in the information age where ever increasing amounts of our communication are carried out by email, the forgotten art of conversation can often be the way forward. It’s always a good thing to speak to your clients, find out if there is an issue with paying your invoice or whether they have simply been busy or forgotten. If there is an issue, communication is everything and it may be that they need a little more time to pay or require a payment plan. Whatever the problem, it can normally be resolved by a good old-fashioned chat.
We know that in the freelance Architects and designer’s community, maintaining relationships is everything. But never lose sight of the fact that you’ve poured your heart and soul into the work you do and you deserve to be properly remunerated for that. Moreover, your clients expect to pay, so don’t be afraid to have the conversation, you have bills to pay too.