One of my pet peeves about doing facilitation and training is that I generally don’t get paid on the day I’ve done the workshop even when I’ve been promised the payment on delivery.
In the past month – two clients didn’t pay me. One “forgot to put in the check request.” The other left the check on her desk and couldn’t get into her office on the weekend when the workshop was.
These are relatively minor irritations. The first check came two weeks after the workshop. The second hasn’t arrived as of my writing this post – perhaps it has been slowed down by the extra holiday mail.
The freelance world means that cash flow is not constant, it ebbs and flows. Contract work is easier – you get a payment according to a proscribed schedule (most times).
Workshops are often stand-alone and so getting paid for them after they happen is standard practice except when it isn’t – like when people say they’ll pay you on the day of the training and don’t. I’m not bugging just because it’s the holiday season when money is always welcome. It’s that, well, I needs my money.
The worst offender in delayed payment was a major institution that took six months to pay me because my paperwork had to work its way through their system. The fact that I’d signed a contract, delivered an outline (which was signed off on), given them my handouts and bibliography, and submitted an invoice didn’t make the paperwork go faster through their system. Now that I’m in the system, I am assured that any future payment requests will go through much more smoothly. We’ll see.
I used to be shy about asking about my payment, not wanting to seem pushy or needy. I would wait six weeks or whatever length of time seemed reasonable before I’d send reminder emails or make a follow-up call. No longer. As I said before, I needs my money. Although the main reason I do reminder emails and, when warranted, calls is that I’ve fallen totally off of the payment radar a few times where a client totally forgot to submit my paper work. If I hadn’t called them, I’d probably never have been paid. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind. (And yes, I do try to balance between reminding and pestering.)
I send reports and thank you notes to clients and try to do all the things to tie up any loose ends on my end.
I wonder why some organizations can pay on time and others cannot? Some consultants offer a discount if payment is made within 30 days of completion of the job, although I’ve been told by a few that this discount hasn’t made a big difference in them getting paid more quickly.
I know I need to increase the # of clients and projects so that money flows continuously. (Come to think about it, if I publish those brochures and books I’ve completed – there would be cash flow from those that wouldn’t even require me to do anything except to market the work and deposit the check.)
That’s the new goal. Wish me luck. And pay me my money when it’s due!
All of this is made worse in a slow economy. As someone who has freelanced for an entire career, I can tell you that being at the bottom of the food chain is never fun. I too have waited as long as six months for payment — but I no longer wait in silence. That whole thing about the squeaky wheel… well, I am the squeaky wheel, and often that can speed things up a bit. Good luck!
It’s good to know I’m not alone. You’re right about not waiting in silence. Thanks for commenting.
You know – one of the things I did in my past life was to make arrangements for individuals to give workshops and presentations. I found the venue, managed the registrations, planned the food etc. Never once do i recall a time when the presenter was not paid withint minutes of sending the last participant out the door. Usually, it was spelled out UP FRONT and made quite clear that payment was expected at the conclusion of the workshop. once in awhile the presenter might say, “chuck it, let’s go to dinner and figure out the money in the morning.” but mostly, they stood there as I wrote the check. I know agencies are less likely to be able to do that but I’m wondering if you make it clear in your initial negotiations if there might be a bit more success. And, I didn’t come off as needy or demanding, it came off as business-like. My presenters often traveled from great distance and had expenses to meet as a result and they expected to be able to pay for their hotel room at the conclusion of the visit.