His name was Bill. He owned a huge house and I got awarded the painting job. This was the first really big job I did when I started in business over ten years ago. The original contract was over $30k. After the additional work was done the total came to over $42k.
I got paid $30,000.
Yep. He didn’t pay me for the additional work he asked us to do. I thought he was a good and honest guy like me, so there was no need to go through the trouble of writing up a Work Order for things he was asking for, right?
In theory, we all say that we’d never do that. Some of you are wondering how I could’ve been so stupid or irresponsible. But, it happens. And, it happens way more than you’d like to think.
Far too many businesses are giving work away and are also struggling to pay their bills.
I have a client right now who is owed over $20k. His customer is refusing to pay for any additional work. This is a bummer because my client doesn’t have much to stand on and will take what he can get at this point.
Here are a few things I’ve learned through the years that will ensure that you always get paid for the work you do:
No Signature. No Work. Period
If someone will not sign your proposal or additional work order then you need to walk away now. This is a basic form of respect. The client expects you to hold up to your end of the agreement, right?
Take Control of the Work
They called you because you’re the expert. If they start dictating how the work needs to be done or the sequence that they want it done, then call a time out and get some things in writing. Void your warranty. Make no promises that you’ll hit the deadlines, etc…’why’ you ask? Because the second you deviate from your proven system and methods you lose control.
This also goes for any client who writes a bunch of changes into your proposal and then signs it. You are in control. Not them.
Do Kick-Butt Work
I’ve written a lot on this topic here. Make the experience amazing and the actual work amazing and you’re more likely to get paid.
None of us want to work for free. If you want to give something away, that’s fine. Just make sure you have all the signatures for the work and then after the job, when you know your final costs and such, you can make a choice to ‘cut them a break’ if you want.
Take control and get paid.