6 tips for late fees

No one likes chasing down an overdue invoice. With these 6 tips, we'll help you navigate how to legally set up late fees and best practices for collecting them.
6 tips for late fees
Share it!

If you have been sending invoices for any length of time, you know someone will be late to pay you. Yes, even if your clients are just your friends or your second cousin. 

Here are 6 tips to help you manage your invoices before you even send a reminder email.

1. Be clear about your late fee policy.

Before you begin working with a client, make sure to clearly communicate your late fee policy. This could include the amount of the late fee, when it will be charged, and how it will be calculated. By being clear about your late fee policy from the outset, you'll avoid any confusion or misunderstandings down the line.

2. Use a contract.

A contract is an essential tool for any freelancer, and it can help to protect your interests when it comes to charging late fees. Your contract should include a section on late fees, outlining the amount of the fee, when it will be charged, and how it will be calculated. By using a contract, you'll be able to clearly communicate your expectations to your clients and avoid any disputes.

3. Be consistent.

It's important to be consistent when it comes to charging late fees. This means that you should apply the same policy to all of your clients, regardless of the size of the project or the nature of the work. By being consistent, you'll avoid any accusations of favoritism or unfairness, and you'll be able to establish a reputation as a professional who takes their work seriously.

4. Be reasonable.

While it's important to charge late fees, it's also important to be reasonable. This means that you should charge a late fee that is reasonable and fair, and that takes into account the nature of the project and the circumstances of the delay. By being reasonable, you'll be able to balance your need to be compensated for your time and effort with your clients' need to pay you in a timely manner.

5. Be prepared to negotiate.

There may be times when you need to negotiate your late fee policy with a client. For example, if a client is experiencing financial difficulties or if there are extenuating circumstances, you may need to be flexible. By being prepared to negotiate, you'll be able to find a solution that works for both you and your client.

6. Be professional.

Finally, it's important to be professional when it comes to charging late fees. This means that you should communicate clearly and respectfully, and that you should handle any disputes or disagreements in a calm and professional manner. By being professional, you'll be able to maintain a positive relationship with your clients, even when you need to charge them a late fee.

With Hectic, we help you put your invoices - and yes, also late fees - on auto-pilot. Set your payment terms in your contract and we'll add them to each of your client invoices and automatically calculate them if they are late.

You can always choose to waive the late fee or set up automatic invoice reminders so you don't have to chase clients down. Allow online payments to give your clients a no-excuses path to get caught up. 

Clear communication about your fees and expectations shows your clients that you take your work seriously. And it helps you get paid for the work you've done, on time and everytime.

Share it!
Our team of freelancers and entrepreneurs share what we've learned over the years, both the easy way and (mostly) the hard way.
More By This Contributor
Have you met our virtual office pet (a.k.a. our logo)?
The Hectic hummingbird represents how hard it can feel for freelancers to fly solo––flapping like mad just to stay alive. Until now, of course.