Getting paid...

Good morning all,

A few quick questions for the freelancers out there...

1) Do you take a deposit before starting each case?

2) Do you provide quotes for each case before or_ after_ you've received policy information?
(I don't want to quote too low if the policy turns out to be a mammoth job, but equally, I don't want to gather info for the adviser for free for them to say no on proceeding once I've given a quote).

3) Which payment methods do you accept? Are there any issues with direct debits?
(I want the invoicing/collecting payments process to be as slick as possible. I'm thinking of setting up direct debits using gocardless.com).

Thank you!

Comments

  • Hi,

    1) No, but I do have clients on up front monthly retainers.
    2) Depends. If you have to, give an indicative price. I always tell clients what I think it's going to cost, but I will also tell them early on if it is going to cost more. Caveat your estimates, reinforce that they are estimates. And track your time properly so that your estimates get better. I rarely need to change my quoted price and I don't usually discuss costs with established clients (unless it's something niche) because we've developed trust and value.
    3) I give them my bank details on the invoice. Don't pay to get paid.

    Benjamin Fabi FPFS
    Chartered Financial Planner

    http://twitter.com/benjaminfabi 
  • PPWowPPWow Member

    Hi Benjamin,

    Interesting answers thank you. Providing an estimate makes sense so I'll think I'll follow that approach. I'm going to charge per case (rather than per hour) to keep things simple. So time tracking should be more of an internal thing.

    I think the attraction of going down the direct debit route is that it's easy and automatic for the client and easier for me too. The cost is actually very small for the basic package so I think the benefits may outweigh the drawbacks... At least I hope!?

    Do you find tracking and chasing payments an onerous process Benjamin? I hear it's one of the painful sides of self-employment?

    Regards

  • I charge mostly per case too, but you can't know what to charge without accurately understanding how much time it takes you to do, in my opinion. My simple formula is:

    What net income and retained profit I want to achieve, converted to required turnover (which considers all business costs and taxes), divided by the hours I have available to work in a year.
    Divided by 80% (because at least 20% of your time is spent on non-chargeable stuff)
    This gives the nominal hourly rate on which all estimates can be based.

    I don't understand why you would want to pay for a third-party card payment system without first seeing if your clients will pay an invoice value directly into your bank but that's your call.

    I don't find invoicing and getting paid onerous at all. I use Freeagent (but there's xero, quickbooks and others too). I invoice all clients on the last day of the month, 14 day terms, the system sends the invoices, matches the payment received to the invoices and sends chasers and thank you emails as required.

    Benjamin Fabi FPFS
    Chartered Financial Planner

    http://twitter.com/benjaminfabi 
  • PPWowPPWow Member

    That's true, I was thinking of basing my fees on roughly what others are charging but pricing it out your way is a good option as it's more specific to me.

    Hmm, it looks as though I need to do more research as you're right, if it's not onerous then it's not worth paying extra costs! Thanks for the tips!

  • Having clients on a retainer is definitely the best option, and provides a regular, predictable income stream. Some clients are a little reticent about it to begin with, or think they will only do a small amount of work, and that's fine. I'd review after 3 months and have a discussion if necessary. I've only been going 2 months so far and 100% of my clients are on retainer :smile:

    My time tracking is more of an internal exercise but will help in the future once I build up a decent history of MI. I price 'per item' but I always say that discussions would be had if they were combining various pieces of work, and any other work not listed is done on a 'per hour' basis.

    My fee agreement forms part of my terms, so the adviser always knows the cost before they send me any work, but the cost would also be confirmed by email before any work is started. I haven't given any thought to taking a deposit to start, but this can be changed if I deem necessary. There's always a certain level of trust I guess, and if someone doesn't pay when they should, I wouldn't do any more work for them.

    Also, as Benjamin says I wouldn't pay to get paid - my bank details are on my invoices too!

  • PPWowPPWow Member

    Hi Andy,

    Thank you for this - I think I'll ditch the direct debit idea for the foreseeable future if invoicing is working well for you guys. Also, I think I'll ditch the deposit idea and see how it goes (it's probably quite obvious if the adviser you are working for is trustworthy or not!).

    Thanks again!

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