DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a client who took months to pay me for a job I did. Eventually, she sent me the payment in two checks. After I received them, she called me frantically, telling me to deposit the first half immediately to ensure that it got paid; she asked me to hold off on depositing the second check. Later that day, she sent me an urgent text saying that I needed to deposit the money that very day.
Naturally, I wanted to get those checks in my bank account right away, but the experience was extremely distressing. Her frantic notes came at the end of the business day, when I could not get to my credit union to make a deposit in time. She made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Meanwhile, she is the one who took months to pay me. I get that she is a small business, but I had no idea that it would be this difficult just to get paid.
She just called me like nothing happened and asked me to work with her again. I am reluctant to agree, given how awful this experience was. A friend pointed out to me that she did pay. Should I work with her again? How can I make it a better experience if I do? -- Restart
DEAR RESTART: What is evident is that this client is struggling financially. It also seems that she wants to do right by her vendors. Yes, it took a long time for you to be paid, but yes, she paid you in full. Sadly, there are plenty of businesses large and small that do not honor their commitments as they hire vendors to fulfill services.
You have to evaluate your needs versus your tolerance for the frenetic way in which this client works. If you can afford to walk away from her and fulfill your bottom line with more reliable clients, by all means do not accept any more work from her. If you need this client, talk to her about how you might manage your expectations better. Ask her upfront how long she thinks it will take to pay for the job you are about to do. And then take a page out of her book and cash her check immediately when you receive it.