Client direct - payment delays
Thread poster: Andrea Schwam

Andrea Schwam
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
Nov 8

Hey everyone,

I have a client (not an agency) that I've been working with for 6 months.
She previously worked at another company, and when she moved, she took me on too.
She's always given me lots of work - and now has given me so much that I must turn down other clients, most of whom are agencies.
Her previous company (who I still work for) pays very quickly after I send the invoice.
Her new company says 30 days after invoicing.
What that means is I'm invoicing every week, for smaller sums. It will be a drip drip drip nightmare for my finances, and it's a lot of invoicing!
I mentioned earlier that it would be better for me (because also she's lowered her translation prices) if I could invoice and get paid for work that's coming.
I've been super reliable and never missed a deadline - and I do extra work like giving my editorial opinion (she asked for this) with no pay.
She said it's not possible - but now she's setting up even more work for me, which in the end means good money, but it also means saying no to other clients, some of whom pay much faster.
I'm getting nervous - blocking so much time for her could put me in the hole...
On a side note, I really enjoy most of the work.
What would you do in my situation?
Should I speak to her again about being paid upfront for work she is setting up in my calendar? Say, half up front and half upon delivery?
Or should I just be patient, since she's sent so much work my way?

thanks!
Andrea


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Payment... Nov 8

does she pay punctually? Even if it's 30 days after invoice, you should have enough funds to cover the delay. Once you have your cash flow sorted, it won't matter... not sure if it makes sense. You can also ask her if you can invoice her monthly, without sending single invoices all the time. Of course if she could pay 50% in advance, that would be ideal. Not many agencies or individuals do that, though. Finally: it seems that you are putting all your eggs in one basket. Easy to do. But this is very dangerous, especially so because she seems to be a one-woman band. High risk of defaulting, since she probably won't have enough funds to rescue her business if some of her clients default too. Lots to think about... icon_smile.gif

Andrea Schwam
Josephine Cassar
Dalia Abdul Haleem
Tecton
Ann Marie B
Esther Dodo
ahartje
 

Andrea Schwam
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
eggs in one basket Nov 8

Thanks for the reply!
I'm very worried about the eggs in one basket....but she works for a business and they are my direct client now.
They should have the cash flow to pay me upfront.
I think the invoicing is just company policy (unlike the other company where she worked).
It's true being paid wouldn't put my mind at rest in that respect, but at least it might demand the same level of risk/commitment that I've giving?


Dalia Abdul Haleem
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Delays? Nov 8

30 days from invoice is fairly standard for B2B payments so I wouldn't expect them to deviate from that. That's the risk we all take all the time. I'm not sure why you're worried about that?

As for eggs, if you put ALL your eggs in one basket, you become their employee...


Joe France
Thomas Pfann
Catherine Brix
Kevin Fulton
Andrea Schwam
Teresa Borges
Dan Lucas
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2004)
English to Italian
ok... Nov 8

Andrea Schwam wrote:

but she works for a business and they are my direct client now.
They should have the cash flow to pay me upfront.
I think the invoicing is just company policy (unlike the other company where she worked).
It's true being paid wouldn't put my mind at rest in that respect, but at least it might demand the same level of risk/commitment that I've giving?


I didn't realise she was working for another business... I thought she was operating as a one-woman band, on her own. That's much better. In this case, demanding some advanced payment is ok, but it looks like the company's policy doesn't allow that. It's reassuring, nevertheless. You will have to find a way of working with other clients too, keeping doors open in case this business relationship goes sour... not easy, especially if this new client pays the best rates.

As Chris says, if you work exclusively for this client, your tax office might take a dim view of your "freelance" status, since you are basically their employee...

[Edited at 2018-11-08 13:51 GMT]


Josephine Cassar
Andrea Schwam
 

Tansy  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:17
German to English
Sounds like standard procedure Nov 8

I invoice my direct customersat the end of the month regardless of how many jobs they send me. Standard payment terms are 30 days for most of them. I don't really see that you have any cause to be worried, especially if you already know the client. Why don't you starting invoicing once a month instead of every week/every job? That would make things easier for you and your client.

Catherine Brix
Kevin Fulton
Andrea Schwam
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Teresa Borges
Dan Lucas
Ksenia Akulova
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:17
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
In your situation Nov 9

Hi Andrea,
I'd be happy to have a client who sends me work and pays in 30 days.

Personally I invoice at the end of the month, doing it every week sounds like a load of stress and extra time.
To leave yourself time for other clients just juggle deadlines. For example if this client sends you a 5-day job say you can do it in 10 working days, that way you have time for other jobs/clients and if none come in you can do the 5-day job in the meantime. Obviously you have to see how far you can juggle this with when the client needs the job but a lot of people say they need it sooner than they really do. I wouldn't work for just one client.

Personally I only insist on payment in advance if a bad (BB rep) payer offers me work and it's mostly just a polite way of saying no. A few clients pay right away or in 30 days, EU law says 60 days, some pay regularly at 90 days or need reminding and will end up months later with you saying you can't take any more work until you're paid.
You can always so "no" I don't want to work with you because you won't pay me in advance, within 10 days, whatever but this could be a pretty quick recipe for losing a good client.

Imo your financial situation is not your client's concern and it's not their responsibility to sort out by paying you sooner than they reasonably want to. If necessary a bank should give you a loan on the basis of invoiced (as yet unpaid) work, so this could be a way of making things a bit easier until you're in a more solid position.


Andrea Schwam
 

Andrea Schwam
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
sound advice Nov 9

Hi Jo, thanks so much for your advice.
I don't really need to rush the payment for financial reasons, I think I perhaps got spoiled by her last company and assumed direct clients were all like that.
But the opposite makes more sense, I see that now.
I'm going to take your advice about the deadlines though - because she has set such tight deadlines I'm basically doing work for her full time and at the risk of losing loyal clients.
If she is desperate, she can post here to add to her team of freelancers!


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:17
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Taking up all of your time at a low rate? Nov 9

Do I understand correctly that she is trying to take up all of your time and she is paying lower rates than your other clients?
Allowing that would not make business sense to me.
It makes perfect sense to her: she has a supplier at low rates, of course she wants you to do all of the work...
But, you are working more hours to get the same payment, taking an extra risk by having only one client, and risk losing your other clients (frequent refusal of their work requests will result in them moving on).

Have you thought about raising your rates?
Katalin

Edit:
I just re-read your OP. "I do extra work like giving my editorial opinion (she asked for this) with no pay." - Really? Maybe once or twice, as a favor, but regularly???

[Edited at 2018-11-09 14:45 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A suggestion Nov 10

Andrea Schwam wrote:
she has set such tight deadlines I'm basically doing work for her full time

First, let me point out that getting a freelancer to work for you (almost) full-time is actually illegal in many countries in the EU. I know it is in France and Spain but I'm not sure about the UK. The client is basically enjoying the services of a full-time employee without affording them any of the benefits that a contract of employment provides, and - worse in the eyes of the law - they aren't paying the employer's social contributions, either. It isn't illegal for you, but it is extremely precarious. That client could simply disappear tomorrow (having paid you for the work done so far) - and clients do do that from time to time. You'd then be left with no income at all, and probably no right to social security benefits such as unemployment benefit.

My suggestion is that you take advantage of any free or very cheap courses locally on running a small business. The Chambers of Commerce in the UK used to run them, but I'm way out of touch. At the moment, it seems to me (forgive me if I'm wrong) that you're just "doing as you're told" up to the point where you get upset and then you start making rules. That's bad news for yourself, but neither can you expect clients to comply with unfair conditions. There are standard business practices out there that most of us comply with quite happily. Once we know how to run our business, all we have to do is avoid clients who don't, and all is fine. And following good risk management procedures avoids us getting entangled with poor clients, most of the time anyway.


Andrea Schwam
Nikola S
 

Andrea Schwam
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:17
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
more great advice Nov 10

Thanks Shelia for taking the time to respond.
I've only been freelancing for a year, and it's true I have no idea how to run my professional affairs correctly.
Would you really suggest something like a business course in the UK? I wouldn't call myself a business quite yet...What about courses on ProZ, or some good books about the freelance lifestyle?
I was also thinking of trying to set up a network of freelance professionals (of all types) near home. It would be a great way to meet people, get out of the home office, and maybe get some advice.
That said, I'm using what I know from working with independent business and training consultants, back when I was in an office, and it seems it doesn't translate (no pun intended) into the work we do perhaps?
It can be hard to reach out to more established professionals on here, because it means accepting that I have no clue.
At least I took a first step in the right direction!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Therein lies the problem, IMHO Nov 10

Andrea Schwam wrote:
I have no idea how to run my professional affairs correctly.
Would you really suggest something like a business course in the UK? I wouldn't call myself a business quite yet...

What would you call yourself? You aren't a salaried employee; you're self-employed. You're running a single-person business, just like a lot of plumbers, car mechanics, web designers, consultants, and lawyers. Of course, it's one of the smallest businesses possible because all we absolutely have to have is the knowledge that's in our head and some way of passing it on in the form of a written or oral translation. All the rest - qualifications, dictionaries, computers, CAT tools - is just to improve our chances of getting and keeping clients. So there's little of the investment that plumbers and car mechanics have in tools and parts, nor is it essential to invest in several years of training, as the lawyer has to.

I was also thinking of trying to set up a network of freelance professionals (of all types) near home. It would be a great way to meet people, get out of the home office, and maybe get some advice.

You may find that helpful, yes. I think it depends on your personality. (I really can't advise on that as I'd personally hate it icon_smile.gif.) But don't overlook the need for knowledge rather than emotional support. It sounds increasingly as though you're lacking self-confidence. Maybe some training will do more good more quickly than discussing your problems with other people - after all, we all have problems so you could end up spending much of your time helping them with theirs or end up feeling that yours are inevitable.

It can be hard to reach out to more established professionals on here, because it means accepting that I have no clue.
At least I took a first step in the right direction!

Indeed! I'm sure we've all experienced not having a clue!


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 04:17
German to English
+ ...
One line that caught my attention Nov 10

This:
Andrea Schwam wrote:

I mentioned earlier that it would be better for me (because also she's lowered her translation prices) if I could invoice and get paid for work that's coming.

The translation prices are set by you, not by your customer. What you are saying is that this customer has decided she wants to pay you less than before. But if you haven't offered to giver her that kind of discount, it can't really be lowered. If your services are so well liked that she is giving you increasing amounts of work, if anything, maybe those prices should be raised.icon_wink.gif


Sandra& Kenneth
 


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