I have a small business and work mostly for residential customers (about 99 percent of my business). I have developed a simple little strategy to collect the money for the work I do. It has worked well for me for many, many years and the strategy is a positive one I think. Some of you who are starting your own business may want to adopt a similar system.
1. Try to collect the money when the work is performed unless an agreement has been reached in advance to pay later. If a customer cannot pay at that time (or is not home), then leave a bill and self-addressed envelope for the payment.
2. If you have not received the payment in two weeks, then you can either send another invoice plus a self-addressed STAMPED envelope or you can call the customer and ask if they got the first bill and envelope (I sometimes leave it on the door or someone else is home and takes these items and sometimes the customer does not get them).
3. If after three weeks you do not get the payment, then call the customer and ask them if they could put a check in the mail. I purposely call when I think I can just leave a voicemail. I am not trying to confront the customer about this. Only remind them that a check would be appreciated.
4. If you have not gotten the check in four weeks, then call the customer and tell them that you are going to be in their neighborhood for another job/estimate on a job and you would appreciate it if they would leave a check in an envelope on the door. And, if that is not possible, please call you back.
95 percent of the time I get the money in less than a month. Most checks arrive in less than two weeks. For folks still working, they usually get paid every couple of weeks so two weeks is not uncommon for the time period of receiving a check.
IF you don’t get your money via the “check on the door method”, make another visit. I make a visit on Sunday to the customer’s house with my wife. Just happened to be in the neighborhood and I asked my wife if she would swing by.
If a customer is one who usually pays promptly, then I do not always go through the steps above. But if a customer pays late more than a couple of times, then every time after that I require payment when the work is performed.
Hope that helps you get paid. Cash flow is so important to any business but especially to one just starting out.
From Steve Smith