When working with a client you don’t know very well, or don’t know them at all, it can be very tempting to accept the job based only on financial opportunity. I’ve seen many cases where this happens without even a contract in place. This turns out to be a major mistake for most of the businesses, as poorly defined terms of cooperation and plan of delivery can be interpreted independently from both sides and can lead to a misunderstanding later on.
When I left my job a few years ago to open my own company I wasn’t aware of the danger of unpaid bills. I learned that the hard way when I was left with no money at all. It wasn’t the clients fault, and I did a good job. All I needed to do is one little thing that later on helped me run business in years to come.
I realized that the only way I wanted to do business is being transparent & honest and requiring the same thing from my clients. It turned out to be easy and rather simple thing to do, so I decided to put the process in steps.
1. Write Service Plan
Based on clients proposal, you should assemble a document that would present what you are about to work on week-by-week, describing requirements to the smallest detail. If the client approves it, it is a sure sign that you are on the right track. If not, you should correct what you understood wrong and then move on.
2. Begin on Monday
For sure, it doesn’t have to be Monday, as any day is good to start working, however, when making a week to week plan, it is easier to keep track this way. Both you and your client can follow the stages with ease.
3. Deliver on Friday & Issue Invoice
Once you have completed the plan for that week, present or deliver your client with the work done. With this, ask them for comments and send them an invoice.
Sending them invoice and asking for comments is a good way to make sure they will check the work you’ve done. It is easy for them to say that all is good and then later on ask for repair if they were not obligated. Payment is the best method of verification as everybody wants to make sure they got value for their money.
Notice: If you are not working this way, Friday is not the best day to send invoice.
4. Validate Requests for Corrections
When needed or requested by client, you should perform corrections. If something wasn’t done right or the client wasn’t happy, you should fix it at no additional cost.
Once all is fixed and the client is happy, you should continue working where you left off and inform your client that there will be delay for the period you just spent on correcting things previously done.
5. Validate Payment
If payment was made, that means that your client was satisfied and you can continue working according to plan for the next week.
If payment wasn’t made, you should not continue working until it is. If the client hasn’t payed and has not explained why there was no payment, you should stop spending your time on their project. It is possible that they won’t reply because they were not serious… or whatever the reason was.
With this system in place you will be sure that:
- the work you’re doing will satisfy your client,
- you’re on the right track,
- you get paid on time and without excuses.