It is unfortunately all too common for a contractor to produce a detailed quote for the work they will do for the client that contains pages of description regarding the scope of works, but no mention at all of payment terms! One of the most important things in the quote needs to be the agreed due dates for payment.
It is interesting to note that despite having numerous options, contractors will stick to either ’30 days’ or ‘7 days nett’ regardless of whether it suits them or if it is realistic. This article will encourage you to explore other terms that may better match the client and the work.
KEY POINTS FIRST
Before considering other terms you need to note some important concepts:
Terms must be agreed beforehand: You cannot stick payment terms on your invoice and then hold your client to them. Terms MUST be agreed beforehand in your contract, quote, or agreement. You will find that you cannot enforce terms in any formal process unless your client has had the opportunity to agree to them before the work. This makes it very important that you have a written agreement upfront (that’s a whole other article!).
Nail it down: You need to nail your terms down in time. For example, too often I see a term like ’30 days’. That is meaningless. Thirty days is simply a period of time: ’30 days from what’? The same goes for ‘7 days nett’; it means nothing. You need to state when that period runs from. So ’30 days from receipt of the invoice’ is a good term. Take a look at your terms and you may find they are simply periods of time rather than a payment term.
Use ‘Business Days’: If your terms are only described as ‘days’, then it is possible that the due date for payment will land on a weekend or public holiday. These are sometimes called ‘calendar days’. However if you make your payment terms in ‘business days’ then the due date will always be on a day that your client will be open and in a position to pay. Consider changing to ‘business days. For example instead of ’14 days from invoice date’ why not ’10 business days from invoice date’. It is about the same period and the due date will not be a weekend.
Invoice on time: As payment terms need to run from the date the claim was received or dated, then make sure you are invoicing at the time agreed, or regularly.