Have you ever had someone not pay your invoice? If you haven't yet, you soon will, and chances are, you find the next steps towards receiving payment awkward.
This week I talk about the awkward experience of dealing with clients who cannot pay their bills. The experience doesn't have to be awkward, so listen in to learn what you can do when someone doesn't pay your invoice.
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Hi. It's Gail here. Today, I've just had a bit of a difficult conversation with a client about an unpaid bill. And I thought I'd share with you a little bit about how I approached it and how you might be able to approach similar situations if you find yourself facing a client who has not paid one of your bills.
Now, the first thing I did was I took the approach that perhaps they hadn't received my invoices. I email them through my client management system and there is a possibility that the email address is wrong or I used a different email address to the one that they generally use, that's happened before.
And so the very first thing I did when I called them was I asked if they'd received my emails. Now I've sent it twice through my system and I've also sent a follow-up email through my own email system just to check on how everything is and I've had no response. So today I called, and first of all, I inquired on how things are going.
And then secondly, because they are waiting on an NDIS plan to begin which hasn't yet started so start on a really positive note about the future. Because this is a client that is entering the NDIS.
And then secondly I brought up the issue of the unpaid invoice and asked if they had received my emails. And they had, and they said "I'm really sorry, I've been meaning to email you." The reason they haven't paid is because they've lost their job so they haven't got any money and they have other bills that need paying as well. So they are under financial stress which means that my bill is a little bit lower priority than perhaps some of their living expenses as well.
Which is not a great situation for me or for them because they are feeling embarrassed that they can't pay my bill, embarrassed that they've got to have this conversation with me. And they are worried that it might affect the future relationship it has with them and with the therapy that their child needs.
Now in this particular circumstance I know that our next appointment will be made after they have NDIS funding, which they are just waiting to hear the amount of and the start date, so I know that future services will be paid. However my policy states that unpaid invoices will result in services being discontinued until payment. And so I made it clear that the bill needs to be paid before I can continue to see their child.
That once they have that funding this unpaid invoice will be a roadblock to future services with me. Because I can't provide a service with an unpaid bill and it does create a bad relationship if that is hanging there over our heads. I also offered for them to make small payments so that they can start to reduce the amount and not have it be such a big amount sitting over their heads to try and find all of it but to whittle it down a little bit so that they are making progress and we're building that goodwill that things will be made.
Our agreement at the end, and this would be different for every client that you have, our agreement was that the bill will be paid prior to further services commencing with the NDIS. Now, that doesn't guarantee I will get paid and it doesn't guarantee that they'll continue with me. They may feel really embarrassed that they can't pay me and choose to find another provider.
But that's all I can do at this stage of things. We've got an agreement at this stage for how things are going to be in the future. Now this is a really big issue when you're working in private practice. That people won't pay you, that you've provided a service with an agreement that they will pay you.
And they haven't, so this is a really big one. And I'd love to find out what works for you? How do you manage unpaid invoices? And how do you handle that difficult conversation of you're overdue and you need to pay me and we need to discontinue services because of your policy. Or, have you not had to do it yet? I would really love to have an important discussion on this so let me know what works for you, if you've been in this situation, and share with us so our whole community can learn from each other.
As always I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment and share your thoughts with our community.
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