In January, the Professional Consultants Association of Central New York has as its presenter Robert Rothman of Robert Rothman PC, a lawyer specializing in medical billing collections but handling collections of all types. He spoke to the organization about making sure consultants get paid for their work.
It’s an interesting topic when you think about it because most of us have had an instance where we’ve wondered if or when we’re going to get paid for our work. Even if we have a contract, sometimes it takes some effort to get paid, to the extent that we might have to go the legal route to get our money.
Rob had taken a look at the contracts of many of us to see if there were any glaring omissions and he didn’t find any. Then he made recommendations to the group, as well as asked a very intriguing question that everyone in the room had to give affirmation to. Here were 3 main points and the big question, which we’ll start with.
1. Would you rather you not be paid or your competition not be paid? So many consultants and small businesses are afraid to cut loose clients who don’t pay us timely or at all because we’re worried those folks might go to someone else. Rob’s question to us was why we feel those clients are worthy to continue working with us if we’re always fighting to get paid by them, and just how much are we losing if they go to someone else.
2. Make sure to get the legal entity on the contract. His point here is that many times you’re signing up to do business with an organization but either the wrong person is signing or the contract is set up for the person to sign as themselves when you’re actually working for someone’s corporation.
3. Make sure there’s always a drop dead date on your contract for payment. Many of us say things like “within a month” or might add interest after so many days but very few of us ever have a specific date that they must be paid by.
4. Make sure there’s a clause stating a guarantee of payment. This protects you whether or not someone liked the work you did, which is sometimes a platform someone you take to court tried to hold you to, even if you did good work. If you add a line saying the client only has to pay if they like your work often means you’ve given way too much leverage to a client. If you did the work and they didn’t like it, but it was quality work, you deserve to get paid regardless.