How often have you had a client dispute an invoice, or the work delivered, or even the payment they owe you? You know what was agreed to at the time you started working for this client. But between then and now, they owe you a lot of money, and are not willing to pay because they don’t feel like they should. Or, not until you do more work for the included price. And the worst thing about it? You agreed to everything over the phone. There is no written evidence of this agreement. What do you do?
Documentation is so vital to running your business. There are many people who don’t like the admin side of their business, or are not confidant that they can produce solid documentation. They’d much rather do the work, get good customers and have everything go smoothly. And when things are going great, it doesn’t matter. You do the work, provide the service, invoice and get paid. Great.
But when there is a dispute or disagreement over an invoice, or the service which was delivered, and you don’t have documentation to back you up, then you’re in a big bind. It can get messy, legal and expensive.
However, if you have great documentation, then you have a good resource to turn to which can clear up any misunderstandings quickly. This is important so that the relationship between you and your customer can be kept and maintained
Here are my 5 tips on how you can keep yourself covered through documentation:
1: Have clear and concise terms and conditions.
Ensure that they are viewed and signed by your client’s Owner or Director, it must be someone with authority. Don’t accept a sales clerk, or the receptionist signing it.
2: Make sure that your quotes are clear and concise.
And are either signed by the customer or agreed to via email. If there are any changes, from either party, have these changes agreed to as well.
3: Clearly list EVERYTHING on your invoice.
Follow up with an email. It shows you are on top of your business
Everything that is being delivered and charged for. The more detail the better.
4: Follow up with an email
After every conversation that affects a project or task, follow up with an email confirming the conversation. This builds the paper trail and your safety net. Ask your customer to respond and confirm the content of your email to make sure you have understood their requirements. This is confirmation in writing and ensures you are both on the same page.
5: Keep Everything.
File everything in a place which is easy to find. If you have electronic filing, or you are keeping all emails, have the subject line contain the customer name, client or job number. This helps with filing and searching for the document trail.
All too often I speak to new clients who have not been paid, and end up having to write off debt due to something which could have easily been resolved by having the right documentation. If you struggle with this sort of thing, I can help you. Call me on 1300 164 192, or email me your queries to here à firstname.lastname@example.org