If you are currently facing this situation, you have my sympathies. I know it can be a real pain. Sometimes it's a little disheartening to feel like you either aren't cutting it, or worse, that a good client relationship will be damaged by dishonesty from clients avoiding payment.
The best way to avoid this is prevention. All positive professional exchanges should involve a brief but thorough estimation of services, as well as details on what those services will be and how they will be provided. There are other details you may want to include depending on the type and scale of the project.
Research the cranapple out of it via your favorite search engine. I honestly believe the right person could earn the equivalent a doctorate through Google search, provided they had the work ethic of a beaver on it's 25th cocaine laced espresso. Ramblings aside...
Point, getting to it, is to set up a contract with them that establishes a set number of edits. You also want to include an option to extend the project in the event you get to the near end and there are major changes in the brief. This would involve a discussion of extended payment considerations as well, to be fair, but it would all be laid out before hand. The client gets a chance to understand what he/she is involving themselves in, how designer and client operate together to get the best outcome. It isn't about control, it is about a partnership to achieve the best possible result.
** If it's already an issue, don't panic. Honesty and communication are the best moves here. Don't play games, or hedge your bets. Your client will appreciate polite forthrightness. Let them know the project has extended beyond your usual scope, considering the number of edits and requirement changes. You may need to reevaluate how this project will be priced with consideration to your extended work. The client can think about what the project priorities really are and weigh those against the cost of your extra work. After all, you are not cheating a client by asking to be fairly paid for continued editing. But yes, in the future, go with the contract. It will save the headache. I also agree with the other answers below. Good good advice to follow.
These are tough situations.
It is common to find faults during payments after works being done.
You just adopt to get sign the feed back form by supervisors of your clients at either in their office or at their workplace on spot at each weekly basis.
Keep track recording of your meeting on job performance appraisal as evidence for future level.(Optional)
Don't make any emotional/false commitment for job contract at initial stages just to get job contract.
In my experience when clients start finding faults in your work at time of payment, they are either trying to get you to lower your price or there are genuine issues that need to be addressed.
1. Meet with them in person and ask them to explain what the problems are. Ask questions and really listen. If there are actual problems, then tell them what you can do to resolve those problems and fix them.
2. If they can't point to something specific they have an issue with, then they are trying to haggle over price. Be firm about what your services are worth and tell them you expect payment in full. Make sure you also tell them what you have done and ask them how it has or has not performed up to their expectations.
I evaluate potential customers carefully. If they balk at my price initially, chances are they will try to haggle. I let those go, because they'll never value the service I'm providing.
I cannot tell you what to do after this point, but I can tell you what to do before it:
1) Look at the contract you send to your clients and ask yourself if it covers you sufficiently. Sometimes, we tend to leave things out and they come back to bite us. Never "guarantee" anything, because there is no such thing as a guarantee. Make sure the contract is fair to both parties.
2) Always, ALWAYS create a paper trail from day one. Put everything in writing (email). If the client wants everything over the phone, be sure to follow up with them via email by sending "meeting notes" with all of the bullet points covered in the conversation. This is all a part of covering yourself and leaving a paper trail with dates and times.
3) Stand by the quality of your own work. Your client signed a contract -- they are obligated to pay you for the work you did. If you truly did what you were paid to do, then you have nothing to fear. If they still refuse to pay after the job is done while coming up with 'convenient' complaints that never surfaced before, then they are a deadbeat and you will have to get your money back the hard way. Nobody wants to go to court, but sometimes it is inevitable.
I learned (the hard way) that I now state upfront in contract format that 50% payment is required to begin the job and the rest due upon completion. I also state that my work includes 3 revisions. After 3 revisions we switch from a the flat rate quoted to my hourly rate billed in 15 or 30 minute increments depending on the client. With each revision I remind them how many comped revisions are left on their job.
Ask them for an extension of time to do what they really want. This way you will not fall into their trap. But after that , leave them behind and move on. There are many more fishes in the sea. Florence MacDonald
Resolution is alwys the best way forward rather than conflict!
As has been mentioned, approach the problem positively; the issue may be caused by misunderstanding or simply by the client using the 'complaint' as a bargaining tool to reduce costs.
Stage payments are a great way of keeping everyone on track, but the most useful tool I have found to manage projects effectively is Basecamp, the online project management system. It notifies all participants at all stages of a project and is a great audit - or even post-mortem - tool to assess how a project went.
Persevering with poor clients is a sure fire way to you losing heart in your business; if you don't like working with them, sack them and move on to better clients.
Geting rid of bad clients is very cathartic and works wonders for your confidence.
understand it is about money and they are too embarrased to discuss it, I make a list sort out what must be done and make them pay what they are happy with they must never get away with non payment
also budget a discount I also charge evrything and then offer a discount it makes people happy especially when it comes to variances
Ensure there are interim milestones defined before the final delivery so that the client has a chance to review progress. A good practice is also to get sign-off once key milestones are reached and probably tie payments to it. This way you buy in the client's commitment to closure.
Have a strong contract or agreement to start with. If they complain, refer them to the agreement/contract they signed before. If they don't pay, hire a collection firm to go after them. That should get their attention very fast.
These situations, which should be rare if your performance is, in fact, adequate, are best addressed before your work starts: (1) make it clear in your engagement agreement that all work will be performed on a "best efforts" basis, and (2) obtain a substantial (say 50%) advance at the outset. These measures will usually minimize the occurrence of the problem you describe IF YOUR WORK IS SATISFACTORY.
If you didn't show them value and results, then they should fire you.
You have to set the expectations.
If they are going to nitpick I would fire them myself.
Some businesses are going to complain no matter what you do for them and will never be happy , FIRE them, FAST!
The payment and interim acknowledgment model is how I have kept the 'balking at final invoice' to a bare minimum. The bottom line is: when a client pays in advance, they are investing. When they pay at the end, they are voting.
My current business is an coaching practice (Coaching for Entrepreneurs, Executives and their teams). My previous business was an internet strategy and web development firm.
With the coaching practice, the clients pay for each coaching month on the last day of the preceding month. When the client invests in the service in advance, they are far more invested in doing the work and, as a result, get the greatest results possible out of the coaching. Each month we look at the results and acknowledge the effectiveness of the coaching.
With the technology company, the client made the initial 50% investment to start the project, 25% and a clearly defined milestone and 25% PRIOR to deployment onto the final servers. The client was investing - paying in advance for - each step. That kept them engaged and active and participative throughout the project. Throughout the entire process, we acknowledged each interim success and each criteria met. That either eliminated or quickly diffused any balking at final invoice.
Hope that helps.
Start with listening, then empathize and evaluate. In most cases, clients who only complain during during payment are hoping get lower rates. Avoid this by starting your project right. Get all of the details involved with the job, make sure you agree on goals and are able to set clear expectations. During implementation make sure to check on your client every so often just to see if he or she has issues with the services you've provided. Encourage them to give feedback so you can improve and ensure all deliverables are completed with quality before the time of payments comes.
Does this happen to you a lot with different customers? If so, I would ask them about this upfront before doing the work. With existing ones, I would be honest with them. I would simply say to them that I felt like they were finding faults with my services because it is time for them to pay. Then I would ask if that is accurate. Let them explain!!! Listen to their concerns. Maybe it is something else? Ask them what you did wrong (even though it is probably nothing). Give them an opportunity to express their true feelings, motives etc. etc.. Key thing here is to listen intently.
I certainly believe that you must objectively determine if the complaints are valid, but I find it imperative to have first laid out the objectives and deliverables of the project before the work has begun. As each step is completed, validate completion with the client. Ther eshould be no surprises at the end. If concerns are still raised, you can then review witht he client how each step of the project was completed and discussed with them as the project progressed. Possibly, they are now simply changing scope.
Be firm, unemotional and don't burn any bridges. Then decide if you want to deal with them in the future.
There are some really good answers above, and do agree with much of it. Often complaints at payment time are nothing but excuses, and easily worked out.
It is important to try and not take this criticism personally, and to listen carefully, taking everything on board. Tackle the given points rationally, and one by one.
The needs for IT products are entirely different than, to say, a caterer, and therefore it´s hard to give structured feedback. However, having said that, each customer needs their expectations met. The best way to do this is to set clear expectations at the start of the project, and to touch base from time to time to ensure everybody is still sharing the same visual of the end-product.
Also, you could always work with downpayments, to make sure the minimal labour costs are covered.
A very valid concern, Sheetal. Such issues help us refine our services and deployment process.
For future projects, consider having a milestone based target plan which the client also agrees to, before you start. Make the payments too milestone based. That way, it's easier to discuss achievements and shortcomings mid-way or at the end of a project.
For existing clients, make a fair assessment of their viewpoints. If you are certain you have delivered your very best, and have done everything to assure the client of the same, and yet they are still adamant, it's probably just to get a cheap deal out of you. In which case, you could either take up the matter with a more senior person at the firm, take legal action, or if the outstanding payment is small, you could consider forgetting it and avoiding the client for future assignments.
When I first ventured into Consulting, 1-2 clients managed to squeeze out of having to pay me, with random reasons. But I worked harder, and focused on other clients. And now I find them wanting to reconnect. Monetary gains aside, hard & sincere work always pays off in the long run.