How to get paid on time, every time

Imagine being paid promptly for all the great work that you do

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Congratulations! You’ve done it — you’ve electronically engaged your client with a clear scope of work and agreed upon the terms of your service. Now, let’s make sure that you get paid for all your hard work.  

Once you’ve agreed upon a fee for a particular service, taking payment upfront is the next logical step. You’ve already confirmed the price, so why not also ensure that you’ll be paid on time?

By implementing upfront payment, and most importantly mandating the entry of bank details, you’ll eliminate late payments — thereby increasing your cash flow, making debtors a thing of the past, and allowing you to focus on producing high-quality work instead of chasing up late payments.  

Let’s look at how you can put this into action within your very own practice.  

Monthly recurring fees 

If you operate on a monthly recurring fees basis, then you need to be in control of the payments process – this is a must. Therefore, make sure to take down the payment details as soon as you engage with a client. You never want to find yourself in a situation where you’ve agreed upon a monthly fee, are supplying ongoing services to your client, but they’re failing to pay you.

Not only is this a headache, but you’ll waste countless valuable hours hassling clients for payment instead of growing your practice.  

By taking your clients’ payment details upfront and automatically processing their payments each month, you’ll ensure that your cash flow never suffers. Plus, you can also avoid the unpleasant situation of having to temporarily put a halt on work when your latest invoice hasn’t been paid.  

Bill on completion  

Taking payment details upfront is a similarly useful strategy for clients who operate on a bill on completion basis.

Once you finalise the work for a particular client, you can immediately raise an invoice if you use a platform like Practice Ignition and set the wheels in motion by arranging to take payment. But wait – what if a client has queries? Well, given that you can schedule the payment to your payment terms (this is a default – you don’t need to do it every time), the client has the period of time between you raising the invoice and then taking the payment to come back to you with any queries.  

In the event of an issue, you can always stop the payment before it goes ahead – though this shouldn’t happen very often as I’m sure you’re all doing wonderful work for your clients. 

If you operate using time-based billing (as opposed to fixed fees) then don’t worry. Simply provide your clients with a price range or an hourly rate, all of which can then be billed on completion once the work has been finalised.  

The smart approach 

Imagine being paid on time, every time, for all the great work that you do. This would allow you to wave goodbye to late payments, eliminate perennial debtors, and take control over your own cash flow.  

In other words, it would transform your practice.  

By taking payment details with your engagement, you can turn this dream into reality. Make payment problems a thing of the past as you build your practice of the future. 

Carl Reader

Carl Reader is chairman at multi-award-winning firm d&t and head of Accounting (EMEA) at Practice Ignition. Carl serves as chair of the Practitioners’ Network Panel at ACCA and is the author of BOSS IT.

Carl is widely recognised as a thought leader in the accounting profession, speaking globally to accountancy audiences about a range of topics. He has been recognised as one of the leading voices on social media, is regularly featured in the accounting press, and was formerly a member of the Accountancy Age 35 under 35.