Tips for getting clients to pay on time

As an architect, most of my projects are completed in stages over a period of time. I can’t wait weeks or months without receiving partial payments. After reading your recent blog about ways to get customers to pay on time, I wanted to share three tips that work for me.

First, in my client agreement, I have specific wording about my expectations for payment. “You are required to make payments promptly (payments should be received in the office by the 18th of the month). In my efforts to keep design fees competitive and affordable, I rely upon prompt payment. All work stops if payment is not made within a mutually agreeable time.”

Second, I mail my invoices and include a stamped return envelope. When I receive an invoice from a vendor with no return envelope, I have to get an envelope and address it and put a stamp on it. This is one extra step involved for me to pay their bill. I believe that by providing a stamped return envelope with my invoices, I am minimizing the effort it takes for a client to pay my bill.

Third, if payment hasn’t been received by the 25th of the month (one week after it’s due) I send out a reminder to the client by both email and snail mail. The mailed reminder includes a copy of the invoice and another stamped return envelope. This usually does the trick for getting paid.  Once in a while I might have a client that needs two reminders, but most of my clients are great about paying promptly.

–Leo Smith

President, Leo Smith Architects

Leo specializes in single family residential projects. You can visit him at

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