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It’s not a client, it’s a ghost! A ghost that needs a contract…

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What’s worse than a crappy client?
I’ll tell you… 
A seemingly awesome client that GHOSTS you!

For freelancers and small businesses, this happens. ALL. THE. TIME.
You do the work, send an invoice for payment or a request for feedback and POOF! The client disappears into thin air. You’re trying to schedule them into your busy workload and manage your twenty thousand other clients, but not a single f*ck is given… Unless you miss THEIR deadline, then “MAY HELL RAIN FIRE UPON YOU!”

Seriously though, if you are a freelancer or small business, these ghosting clients are pretty much inevitable. No amount of emails, phone calls or whatsapps are going to make them answer you. 

I used to collect these clients, when I first started working for myself. The amount of time and money that was wasted could have bought me a house in the Bahamas. Instead, I would be curled up in the fetal position, on the bathroom floor, wondering how I was going to pay my rent on time because I had counted on that “big client” to pay me the balance of what they owed.

Oh, how sweet and innocent I was, not having discovered the world of contracts… 

What goes into a contract?

Mark my words:
If you do not have a signed contract with a detailed description of scope and fees, you are screwing yourself over. In the bum. Dry.
(Let that image sink in)

MOST IMPORTANTLY you need to have timelines and kill fee policies in this contract. 
“I will give you (X) by (X) date and you will give me (X) by (X) date”

When clients pay late

In South Africa, you have to be a registered finance place to charge interest, but charging “admin fees” for late payments is totally in the safe zone. Make sure that you put admin fees for late payments into your client service agreement.
For example: 10% admin fees will be charged for every week that payment is overdue.
You cannot just add these fees without the client agreeing to them first. That is why these contracts are so important.

Now, these late payment fees mean nothing to someone who has no intention of paying in the first place. You can’t exactly just keep piling them on and hoping that, one day, maybe they will find it in their hearts to pay you. There has to be a cut-off date for your waiting. 
I give it 30 days.
30 days and still no payment? The account gets handed over. Take that, bitch! 
It is important to note in your contracts that the client will be liable for any fees incurred during a handover process. Many debt collectors charge a rate of around 20%, so this can be quite a knock to what you are due.

The “Kill fee”

Okay, but let’s say payment is not due yet. Like you have done a little work and are now waiting for the go ahead for the next phase. You need a kill fee and cancellation clause in your contract.

Let’s say you are an interior designer and your new client has asked for some colour swatches for their living room. You have done the big ticket items already, but you still have walls, lampshades and other decor to do. So, you send the swatches and… nothing… 
Your client has decided to take an impromptu 3 week vacay to Switzerland and thought she would just pick up with you when she got back. Ummm… no.

Freelancers have schedules. Because we don’t work for one particular company, we carefully curate and distribute our time between an array of colourful clients. We have deadlines and meetings and our world does not revolve around your lifestyle, Susan! If your husband ghosted for 3 weeks and came back like nothing is wrong, would you be okay with it? 
Which brings me to my point: 2 weeks of no contact should count as a non-verbal cancellation of services. Don’t forget to throw in a kill fee to cover the time and effort you have put in, up to that point.

Don’t be afraid to be a bitch about money!

If you were working for a company, you would be PISSED if your boss paid you two weeks late for no reason. Why accept that behavior outside of a 9-5 job?

Check out the BOSSVISION Retreats and Live Training Workshops to learn how to master this fuckery! 

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