The typical rules of payment do not always apply to consultants. There is no product that you are simply trading for payment, instead you are giving up your time, energy and knowledge to a customer. Putting all of your time and energy in to not get paid is extremely frustrating. Trust us – we know and have been there. Luckily, we found some tricks to help us get paid as consultants. Here’s some rules we live by to ensure we get paid as a consultant.

Get it in Writing

Any client that you work with should be signing a payment contract before any consulting work is done. This contract should outline how much is due, what the payment terms are, what the consequences of non-payment are, and more. If payment issues with the client were to escalate, a contract will help you to recover as much money as possible.

Track Your Time

Tracking your time is a good way to ensure that there are no disputes with your invoice. When you’re tracking your time, it is a good idea to keep notes on what was done during each session. Whether you’re in public relations, an engineering or architecture firm, a software publisher or reseller, or any other type of consulting service, you can keep track of each activity and how much time was spent on it. Presenting this to the client at the time of payment will help with any billing disagreements.

Send Correct Invoices

A lot of businesses are not allowed to make a payment if all the correct supporting documents are not included in the invoice. Whether this is a purchase order, your time tracking or any other kind of document, you must ensure that everything is included the first time you invoice. If you’re using an accounts receivable software, these documents can automatically be attached when the invoice is sent.

Give Payment Options

Sending checks is no longer the fastest and most preferred method of payment. Give your clients options for payment, like using an online bill pay option which accepts ACH and credit cards. Customers will simply be able to click a link from an email that will take them to a secure payment portal. This will speed up the payment process.

Check Customer History

Unfortunately, not every client that you speak to will be the best one. If you check trade credit reports prior to offering services and credit terms, you can safeguard yourself against those who habitually pay late – or not at all. Using reports such as NACM’s trade credit reports are affordable and worth the time and hassle you will save yourself.

To get paid as a consultant, you have to cover every base that a client could use as an excuse not to pay. Make sure you agree on the terms and that you get that agreement in writing. Track your time so that no disputes or disagreements will arise. Consider implementing an accounts receivable software that is able to offer online bill pay, trade credit report checks and document management for invoice presentment. Automating these processes will allow you to spend more time collecting on delinquent accounts and less time doing manual tasks.