As a business owner or freelancer, you have probably encountered a client who doesn’t pay for your services. It can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you rely on income to keep your business afloat. You can hire a New York collection lawyer if you need legal help collecting from clients.
However, it is vital to handle this situation professionally to protect your business and reputation. It would be beneficial for you to know the steps you can take when your clients do not pay, including how to communicate with them, legal options, and preventative measures to avoid future non-payment.
Steps to take when a client does not pay:
- Establish a clear payment policy.
Establishing a clear payment policy is crucial to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings regarding getting paid. Your payment policy should outline your expectations and requirements for payment, including the accepted forms of payment, due dates, and any penalties or late fees for late payments. Make sure to communicate your payment policy upfront with your clients, either in writing or verbally, and ensure they understand and agree to the terms. By setting clear expectations and guidelines, you can minimize the risk of clients not paying on time or at all.
- Send reminders
Sending reminders is a friendly and effective way to prompt clients to pay their outstanding balances. A simple email or phone call reminder can be a polite nudge to encourage them to pay what they owe. When sending reminders, be clear and concise about the amount owed and the due date. Maintaining a friendly and professional tone is essential, as this will help keep the relationship with your client positive. By sending reminders, you can reduce the chances of clients forgetting or neglecting to pay and increase the likelihood of receiving payment.
- Offer payment plans
Offering payment plans can be an effective solution for clients struggling to pay their outstanding balances fully. By dividing the amount owed into smaller, manageable payments, you can make it easier for clients to pay off their debt without causing financial strain. When offering payment plans, agree on a specific payment schedule, and outline any penalties or late fees for missed payments. By being flexible and accommodating, you can help maintain positive relationships with your clients while also ensuring you receive the payment owed to you.
- Enforce late fees
Enforcing late fees can serve as an effective way to encourage clients to pay their outstanding balances on time. Including a late fee clause in your payment policy can help incentivize clients to pay on time and ensure that the late payment cost falls on them, not you. When applying late fees, be transparent and clear about the fees, so clients understand the consequences of not paying on time. This can help deter clients from making late payments in the future, ultimately reducing the risk of payment delays and unpaid balances.
- Seek legal help
If a client refuses to pay or ignores your attempts to collect a payment, it may be necessary to seek legal help. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and pursue legal action against the client if necessary. Before taking legal action, make sure to have all relevant documentation in order, such as contracts, invoices, and communication records. It is essential to weigh the costs of legal action against the potential benefits, as legal proceedings can be time-consuming and expensive. Seeking legal help should be a last resort, but it can be a necessary step in recovering the payment owed to you.