Ever have a client make a deduction from an invoice?

You know the type, they always find fault with your work, can’t believe that you charge those kinds of rates, and they wonder why you’re not able to drop everything and handle their projects immediately without adding “rush charges” to the invoice. 

Suddenly you notice they’re taking almost 45-days to pay your invoices and have started making deductions to cover their unfounded complaints.  As I’ve gotten more experienced as an entrepreneur, I’ve found that there are two types of clients that use these tactics.

The first type is totally unethical, and no matter what you say or do, it’s always better for you to cut your losses and discontinue doing business with them.  I know this can be really hard to do, but you must preserve your credibility. 

The second type are always looking for something for nothing.  They will take your project quotation and rip it apart looking for hidden discounts.  Sometimes they are just thorough, sometimes they are doing what has proven to be successful in the past.  These clients can be turned into good, ethical clients by simply taking the time to find out why they work this way.

Unfortunately, these clients have probably worked with unethical providers in the past, and have found that by questioning an invoice, or price, they usually will get some sort of discount, or free offer.  It’s our job to clearly identify ourselves as good ethical service providers who don’t pad their invoices, and prefer to build open, honest relationships with our clients.

Open the discussion by asking about their complaints and how you can rectify the situation.  Be a good listener. Let them vent their frustrations. Ask them for an explanation of any deductions; and try to put yourself in their shoes to see if you can get a better idea of their motivations and concerns. 

Maybe your invoices could detail more information about your charges and how you met their needs.  If you discounted some time to them, show it on the invoice.  Let them know that you want to be more familiar with their specific needs so that you can provide better services in the future. 

Most importantly, don’t take it personally.  Sometimes we are not the perfect fit for someone’s needs.  Sometimes there is no perfect fit for someone’s needs.  What we need to do is maintain our integrity and remember that we can’t be all things to all people. 

Do those tasks where you consider yourself to be the expert.  Encourage new clients to contact your references so they have a clear picture of who you are, what your strengths are, and how those strengths can help them achieve their goals. 

Have a clear “mission statement” for your practice to better educate clients and peers on how important good business practices are to you and the way you provide services to your clientele.

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Jeannine Grich, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker, and VA Business Coach, specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s).  For her FREE article,  “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?” Visit:  http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: http://vabizcoach.com/contact-us/.

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