Receiving payment is the main motivation behind performing a task for a client. Regardless of your skills and qualifications, knowing how to ask someone to pay you for your work can be helpful throughout your career. Being able to request remuneration for your services is a valuable skill, and you can improve it through practice and research. In this article, we discuss why asking for payment is important, explain how to do so, list tips for crafting effective payment reminders and provide an email template and example to help you create your own.
Why is it important to ask for payment?
When performing a specific job for a client, you usually set the amount of money they need to pay you for your services upfront, along with the payment deadline. However, for various reasons, some clients don't make the payment deadline or refuse to pay altogether, with no objective reason, such as the work not being done appropriately or within the deadline. In these situations, it's important to find ways in which you can ask the client to make their payment without jeopardizing your reputation with other clients.
How to ask someone to pay you for work
Here are some steps you can take when you need to ask someone to pay their fee for work you completed:
1. Avoid letting too much time pass from the payment due date
Emailing your client to ask for your fee around the time the payment deadline has passed can improve your odds of getting it with no further complications. The client may have simply forgotten about the payment or was about to do it soon, and your email can inspire them to do it right away. If not, it serves as a reminder and puts the client on notice, improving the odds that they'll prioritize your payment in the near future.
2. Set up an emailing schedule
You may benefit from setting a clear procedure for emailing clients regarding payment. Making an emailing schedule that you use with all clients can also display your professionalism. For example, you can set up your schedule so that you send payment reminders three days before the due date, the day when the invoice is due and three days after the payment deadline.
3. Send polite reminders before the due date
When sending an email regarding payment before the due date, do it in a friendly and helpful way. You can start by mentioning that you enjoyed working on the respective project and that you attached the invoice with the respective due date, as you discussed when agreeing to work together. You can also end on a friendly note by asking them to contact you if they have any additional questions and mentioning that you would enjoy collaborating again in the future.
4. Send a polite but direct email on the due date
If the payment deadline day is here and the client still hasn't made the payment, your email should be slightly more direct than the previous one. The language can still be friendly and helpful, but the email body needs to directly address the issue by mentioning that you're sending the email as a quick reminder that the payment is due. You can emphasize your desire to help by pointing out multiple payment options and asking if they have any additional questions regarding payment.
5. Firmly remind them when your invoice is overdue
If a few days have passed after the payment deadline and the client still hasn't made the payment, send him another email in which you politely but firmly tell them that the payment is overdue. It's essential that the email text is still friendly and professional.
6. Call them if they still don't pay you
If there's still no response, the most appropriate next step is usually to call the client. There's a chance they haven't read your emails or something occurred that prevented them from responding or making the payment. When calling, explain who you are, why you're calling and why they need to pay you. Keep a friendly tone and try again if they don't answer right away.
7. Use a debt collection agency for large unpaid invoices
If the client still refuses to pay or if they're impossible to reach, you can either register it as a loss or use a debt collection agency if you consider the amount to be worth it. An agency that's registered to an official debt collection association is usually a good choice. However, you would likely owe a percentage of the debt to the agency.
Tips for effective payment reminders
Consider these tips for improving the odds of the client paying your fee:
Keep detailed records of your work. If you thoroughly record every action, it makes it easier to prove that you performed the required task.
Set up multiple payment options. Make it easier for clients to pay you by offering them multiple choices for how to pay, along with clear instructions for each.
Sign contracts. Contracts are usually more legally binding than invoices, offering you better protection in case of missed payments.
Send the invoice right after completing the job. Sending the invoice as quickly as possible gives the client more time to make the payment.
Related: How To Write an Invoice in 9 Steps
Payment reminder email template
Consider this template for situations in which a payment is overdue:
Subject: Overdue invoice payment
Hello [Client name],
I'm writing this email as a quick reminder that I still haven't received payment of [amount owed] for invoice [invoice number], which was due on [due date].
I have attached the invoice to this email as well. You'll find details regarding the multiple payment methods in this email's signature.
If you already made the payment, please let me know so I can track it. If not, please do so as soon as you can or contact me to discuss postponement terms.
Payment reminder email example
You can use this email as a reference when emailing a client for an overdue payment:
*Subject: Overdue payment*
I'm writing to give you a quick reminder that you still owe us $2,300 for invoice number 294, which was due on August 2 of this year.
I've attached the invoice to this email as well, and you can find multiple payment methods in this email's signature.
If you already made the payment, please let me know so I can track it. If not, please do so as soon as possible or contact me to discuss how we can postpone it.