One solution is a written client agreement. The purpose of a written contract is to give you the ability to enforce the promises that are made, including the promise to pay.
Having a written agreement with your clients helps you to set clear expectations up front. The scope of the services or goods can be clearly described and any questions or concerns can be addressed before you start.
The written agreement can describe how the price is determined (hourly, fixed rates, fees for additional out of scope work) and how the client can pay you and when payments are due.
Deposits or Milestone Payment
Getting paid up front with a deposit or retainer at the beginning of the contract can put some immediate cash in your pocket.
If you are including a deposit in your client agreement, make it clear whether the deposit is non-refundable. This can be helpful to know for front-loaded engagements that you can keep the deposit, even in the event of something strange happening, like a global pandemic.
Setting milestones or a payment schedule can also help you get paid sooner rather than waiting until the end of the client work.
Late Payment Fees and Interest
Your client agreement can have built in late payment fees and interest payments due on overdue accounts.
You can use your own discretion whether or not to enforce these amounts but if you don’t have the clauses in the agreement, you will be left without this tool in your toolbox.
If your clients schedule appointments with you, you want to make sure that you have a clear cancellation policy, including stating a timeframe and a method for giving notice to you if they need to cancel.
You want to be able to still charge and collect your fees if the cancellation policy has NOT been properly followed.
Rules of the Road
If a client has failed to follow the rules that your business has established, you may need to end your relationship with them.
Ideally, your client agreement will say what will happen regarding fees and payment if the relationship ends due to a breach in the rules (i.e. you get to keep their money).
Being a business owner means juggling many balls at the same time. Getting the terms of each client agreement in writing means that you can stop trying to remember all the details of who got the introductory price, and when you changed your prices and who you told what.
Having a written agreement to refer back to makes it MUCH easier to refer back to when you are preparing and sending out invoices. Easier invoicing = getting paid sooner.
By: Corrine Boudreau, LL.B., Associate Lawyer
The information and materials found on this blog are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Nothing contained on this blog is legal advice or constitutes a legal opinion. You should consult a lawyer before relying on any information contained herein.