January 16

How To Setup Retainer Clients, and stop chasing your invoices!


Nothing’s worse than having to bug clients to pay their invoices. And even worse, sometimes some of you start work before getting paid.

In this episode, I share how I handle my invoicing, although I’ll admit, there are many ways to skin a cat 😉 #toomuch?



Hello and welcome. In this video I am going to talk about how to set up retainer clients, specifically more how I do it, because there is no right or wrong way.

I see this come up in Facebook groups all the time. “How do I invoice my clients? Do I do hourly? Do I do retainers, et cetera, et cetera?” There was one in particular that I actually took a screenshot of that I want to address. I’m not going to go into the details, but it came up on, “How do I invoice my SEO clients so that I don’t end up doing work before getting paid?” That needs to be addressed.

So it takes a little bit of a learning, and usually by unfortunately getting shot in the foot, before you realize that you have to fire your invoices off before you start work. Do not start work until you start to get paid. Small business owners, especially, are very well-meaning, but things happen. And what will happen is if they go, “Yeah, yeah. I’ll pay you,” and then some other invoice comes up, or some bill comes up and they get stuck.

In the meantime, you’ve actually invested time and effort into doing work for the client and it could be three weeks later before you ever get paid or, worst case scenario, you just never get paid. So under no circumstances do I ever recommend you start work before you get paid. That comes from my own experiences as well.

So in this particular situation, she was sending out the invoices manually, but technically starting the work before getting paid. Then it was just starting to bite her in the butt. What she should be doing is sending out the invoice and not starting work until the invoice got paid.

Now, the other thing that I highly recommend is make sure that all your invoices are subscriptions reoccurring and Dunning. Dunning is where their credit card gets hit automatically, but then also if it fails, the processor will try usually three times afterwards to make sure the invoice gets paid. That’s really, really important.

When you sign up for something like Hootsuite or [Ageriffs 00:02:47] or any of that, they don’t give you any slack. They’re like, “You pay, you get access.” So why are we, as agency owners, being flexible with our clients? And I can tell you, out clients are not flexible with their clients. So don’t be that middleman that’s trying to be flexible simply to try to appease everyone.

I use Stripe. I have used Wave Accounting in the past. You can also do this in QuickBooks. There’s also FreshBooks, there’s lots of options out there, the option you choose is not irrelevant. What you just need to look for is, “Can I create a reoccurring invoice, a subscription … I use Stripe, so it’s called a subscription in Stripe … that automatically hits the client’s card automatically at the same time every month. And then if the card fails, it will try anywheres upwards of three more times after that.

Then if the invoice still isn’t paid by then I give my clients seven days. If they don’t pay within seven days, I stop the work. I follow-up with them and say, “Hey, this is what’s going on. I’ll resume work when the invoice is paid,” and I’ve never had any pushback on that, ever. So, don’t be afraid to stand your ground on this.

Now, the other thing that might be coming to your mind is, “Well, how do I get my client’s credit card into my invoice software?” I am a firm believer, never, ever take your client’s credit card. Don’t take it. Don’t write it down. I’ve worked at agencies where they did that. I think it’s highly unethical. There should be zero transmission of their credit card into your hands or your staff, anywhere.

What you do, again, I use Stripe, most software billing, invoices, software does this, but Stripe sends them an invoice on the very first time. It’s says, “Pay now,” they put in their credit card information, Stripe saves it, deal’s done. When they need to update their credit card information, Stripe has a customer portal. They can log in, get all their invoices, download them, see upcoming invoices and update their credit card. Done.

Do not take credit card information from your clients. That’s my personal opinion. I know that other people out there do it. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s unethical. So hopefully that gives you some ideas.

If I touched on something in regards to the invoicing thing for your clients, leave a note in the comments, let me know what that question is. I welcome constructive feedback, just keep it professional. Thanks everyone.



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