Collecting money from those clients we all know and love who just don’t seem to get the concept that they owe you for the work you’ve provided can actually cause stress more than joy.
Nothing compares to the frustration brought by having completed a voice over job and still have to do the job of chasing a client for an overdue invoice which was not supposed to be there in the first place.
Some of you, for sure, have done the squeaky wheel thing with your client — you followed up by email, you’ve left messages to all the available channels they use, you’ve done the megaphone outside their office window and they’re still not paying.
So what can you do to inspire your client to pay short of taking them to court? Here are practical strategies to collect on overdue invoices without causing trouble.
Before you call them, back yourself up with details
Before you pick up the phone make sure you know the details of the invoice, who you’re going to speak to and what you’re going to say. You don’t want to open the call sounding like an amateur and you’ll get totally fobbed off if they smell fear or weakness – so make sure you know what you’re talking about.
Make few attempts to reach the client
Anticipate this: you are going to call them more than once. Do not hesitate to do one after another as you are now in the right place to demand their attention. Do this when the payment is really overdue and the client is non-responsive. While you may think it gets annoying to the client, keep in mind that they are the ones who owe you something so for as long as you are not making a trouble, it is okay to do several attempts of calling them or emailing them if they are not replying.
Try to reach the client more personally
It’s okay to switch it up a bit. After all, you’re up to seeking strategies to get your mission accomplished. Try to call your client’s cell phone rather than a work phone, land line kind of thing. Get them on the cell phone. Call at odd hours. Not at 2 AM necessarily, but why confine it to business hours when they’d be expecting you to call. I’m talking 7:30 or before 9, just switch it up a little bit, keep them on their toes.
Poke higher-ups or third parties but be polite
It’s not that they will necessarily be able to do anything about it. But you want to get your client’s attention.
Just stick to the facts and you don’t want someone else in the industry to think you’re the type that goes around bad mouthing people. “X Productions has not paid the talent who voiced these commercials.” You’re just calling to say you know what? There was this job and I wasn’t paid or my talent wasn’t paid. Get it straight to the point and avoid unnecessary outburst that will do nothing but add fuel to the fire.
Send your clients a comprehensive email
You can also construct an email to their clients detailing how unprofessional they’ve been in dealing with you. Again keeping with the theme, stick to the facts. Send the email to your client. Tell them you’re going to send it out on Friday to their clients if you haven’t received payment. A lot of clients of course on their website will list other people they’ve worked with. Again, don’t actually do it but pretend you’re going to do it. Let your client think, let them sweat a little bit.
Reach to a voice over community
Of course spread the word in the voice over community if you’ve had a particularly bad experience with someone or at least talk to others and see if they’ve had similar experiences with this client and how things got resolved if they did at all, nothing wrong with spreading the word, again as long as you’re sticking to the facts.
Your job is to be as persistent and annoying as the situation calls for within reason in order to get your money, without physical threats of course. I think that goes without saying.
And finally, when you are able to speak with them…
6. Listen to your client
Let them have their say, stay calm, and then ask your probing questions to get to the bottom of the issue. You might find it more effective to politely end the call and try again later if the client gets very aggressive.
There’s no easy way out to tell your client that they haven’t paid you yet for your job, but the least you can do is tell it the nicest way you can. Follow the above steps until you get the gist of it. By then, it would be easier for you to handle such unwelcome occurrence.