If your day to day billing system is in order then collections can be a very easy process. Most voiceover artists waste time dealing with collections because they are not prepared to collect late payments. That part is easy to fix. What may not be so easy to fix is your mindset about collections. Never assume that a client is going to pay you on time.
Firstly, have a clear policy regarding clients who fail to pay for their voice-overs in a timely manner. This policy should be available on your website or by request. Make sure that all new clients receive a copy of this policy along with their first invoice. You may even want to ask them to sign and return it or otherwise acknowledge that they received it.
A typical policy might state:
All first time clients are expected to pay in advance of the first voice-over.
After first successful payment, clients will automatically have a 30 day credit system to use for placing future voice-overs.
Future jobs must be paid within 30 days of the date of the job. If a client’s account should become more than 90 days overdue their account will be shut down and all voice-over work suspended.
Should a client bring their account to good standing after a 90 day period, all credit privileges will remain revoked. If the client wishes to re-instate recording privileges, all future jobs will require payment in full, in advance.
Next, create ready to send, draft collection letters. You’ll need three total; one each for accounts that are 30, 60 and 90 days past due. Each letter should be cordial but firm in an attempt to collect a debt. If you’ve never seen a collection letter search for samples online and check Microsoft’s template website for examples.
Once your drafts are complete you will need to set aside about two hours a month to review all the outstanding accounts in your billing system. Start with 30 day past due accounts.
This letter should be the mildest as it is a reminder; perhaps they forgot to pay or the original invoice was lost. Send this letter via email and attach a copy of the original invoice for your client’s convenience.
Then move to the 60 day past due accounts and repeat the process. This letter should be a little more forceful. Lastly come the 90 day past due accounts. First send the letter stating that their voice-over account has been shut down after two prior attempts to collect. This letter should be sent via certified mail.
From that point forward 90 day past due clients should be called and email at least once per week until the issue is resolved.
After six months of attempting to collect a debt you will need to make a decision; either, turn the account over to an outside collection company or attorney, or write it off as bad debt on your taxes.
Writing it off is usually the better option as further collection attempts will only cost you more time and money and aggravation. You’ve lost enough of both by this point.
Depending on how large your database of voiceover clients is, you might want to consider outsourcing your collections all together.