By now audio-visual (AV) technicians are aware that not only is contract work the norm for their industry, it’s becoming the prevalent norm. According to a study by Intuit, a financing app developer, almost 50% of Canadians will be self-employed by 2020. Obviously it’s imperative that with the ‘job churn’ (as finance minister Bill Morneau puts it) that freelance AV technicians keep their professional networks and portfolios healthy.
So what’s one of the biggest favours AV technicians can do themselves and their clients? Send invoices for projects on time. Late invoices, neck-and-neck with poor communication of project milestones, are considered the bane of clients working with freelancers. AV companies have a lot on their plates these days, what with digital transformation as the driving force of the business world.
Invoicing in a timely fashion simplifies some of the complex relationships between freelancers and their clients. Want to know what happens when you keep a track record of late invoices? Read below for our top three major risks of overdue invoices.
1. Hurts Your Financial Planning
Working as an AV freelancer means you are running a small business. And small businesses are often in a make or break situation regarding cash flow. Not to mention how much the cost of living has risen in recent years as well. Late invoices can mean no profit for you, or at least no guaranteed profit any time soon.
AV companies are often in the throes of more than several projects at a time and are working with many AV technicians (both internally and other freelancers like you). Not only may you be (unintentionally or not) put on the backburner by your client and left vulnerable, you cannot be sure for how long. And if your work contract is inadequate (no contingencies for final billing milestones, for example) you could wind up in a contentious situation if your client proves to be unethical.
2. Hurts Your Client’s Project Planning
You should also consider how your late invoicing impacts things from your client’s perspective. Perhaps just one of your invoices is late and you’ve had a pretty good run lately with other projects. Invoicing late might not seem that important from your end, but depending on how small the AV company you were working for is, you could be derailing their cash flow and current project planning.
The details of your payment terms should be crystal clear in your freelance contract. If you haven’t given accurate price estimates for the work you’ve done, consider how difficult it will be to negotiate a late invoice. Yes, competent AV companies will have allocated resources in their budget for your work done, but it’s next to impossible to gauge what the “right” amount of pay is if you didn’t clearly communicate what you’d roughly be invoicing for at the start (especially if you were billing for hourly work).
3. Hurts Your Reputation
Perhaps the biggest risk of all with late invoicing is that it damages your reputation in a big way. AV companies resent late invoices, for both the reasons discussed above and because it marks you as unreliable. Trust is a currency that you cannot be deficient on in the freelance market. If the word gets spread among potential clients that you are “one of those AV technicians” that invoices way after a project is finished, it’ll prevent you from expanding your network. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how having a tiny network affects your finding future work.
The short version of all the above? Late invoices leave you and the client in a vulnerable position. Even if your client has a considerable cash flow, it can still affect their current roster of projects that they need to account for and all their unpredictable variables. Ultimately, you should want to invoice in a timely manner on principle.