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Tips for getting paid on time

Late or bad payers can have a serious impact on a business' cashflow, effecting its ability to pay for materials and staff wages. In the first of two articles, law firm Sprintlaw and full-service accountancy firm Hnry have put together a guide to help landscapers who find themselves in this situation

If you’re a self-employed tradie in New Zealand trying to make the most of your business, we know one of the hardest parts is chasing up clients for unpaid invoices. After all, you put a lot of work into your services, so you want to be fairly compensated for it. 


One of the key challenges with chasing overdue payments (besides the awkwardness!) is doing it without affronting your client and damaging your working relationship. When it comes to these situations, maintaining a strong client relationship is paramount. 

In most cases, you should be able to secure payment without much hassle, but there will be scenarios where your client isn’t honouring the agreement made, and you may need to prioritise your payment over the relationship with your client. If you’re a tradie with many one-off clients, this is likely to happen several times throughout your career. 


But there are some things you can do to prevent these sorts of problems. First, let’s talk about how to get a client to pay an invoice once it’s become overdue. 

How to get a client to pay an invoice 

We’ll start with the most common situation: a client has let the due date for an invoice lapse without honouring the payment. Your first step should always be to send a friendly email to see what the situation is. 

Best practice for these types of emails is to keep them short, polite, and professional. Avoid angry or passive-aggressive wording – you’re just checking in and providing a gentle nudge. Here’s an example:

“Hey Sam, hope you’re well. Just a reminder that invoice INV-088 was due yesterday. You can make payment to the bank account specified on the invoice. Let me know if you have any questions.” 


Hnry sends these sorts of emails automatically on behalf of our tradie customers whenever one of their client invoices is overdue. 


So, what is the result? Tradies who opt in to these automated invoice reminders receive payment eight days faster than tradies who don’t send invoice reminders. 


Follow-ups are also incredibly effective at securing payment. Again, be polite but firm – and don’t badger. Wait at least three days between reminders. 

But email reminders aren’t infallible and aren’t the only thing you can do to prevent unpaid invoices. Let’s look at all the things you can do to prevent these situations from arising.   

Ways to Prevent Overdue Payments 

The best way to make sure your invoices are paid on time is to be proactive. Rather than waiting for payments to become overdue, there are things you can do to prevent that situation from arising at all. 


We’ve put together a list of six proactive ways that can help you avoid overdue payments and having to chase up on late invoices. 

1. Have proper contracts in place with clients  

You should always have contracts and agreements with clients signed before your job begins, so you are both clear on the nature of the business relationship. More specifically, having an agreement in place will reduce the chances of unsettled disputes or unpaid invoices, both of which can be stressful and take time away from your work.

Your documents should outline the details around payments, terms and conditions, and how disputes might be handled if they do arise. 


If you’re looking for quality documents to use, Sprintlaw is a completely online law firm with 

a team of experienced lawyers who are ready to help. Specialising in making legals simple for small businesses, they offer a range of packages and services to help you hit the ground running and avoid mishaps during your business journey. Sprintlaw offers some essential agreements that you may want to consider setting up if you’re a sole trader managing invoices from clients. 

You may want to get a Service Agreement, which is essential for any client relationship. When exchanging goods and services, ensure that both parties are clear on what is expected to be done or paid. A Service Agreement might also take the form of Business Terms and Conditions. They should set out the following:

  • When and how you expect tobe paid. 

  • Due date.

  • Consequences of late payment. 

  • How you will accept payment. 

  • Whether a deposit is required.

  • Currency (for businesses operating internationally).

You may also want to set up a Debt Collection Policy, which outlines the procedure to be followed when trying to get clients to pay their overdue invoices. 


Having proper legals in place also reduces the need to initiate legal proceedings. Put simply, it settles any disputes around unpaid invoices before it gets to the point of legal action. This saves you money – and a lot of headaches!

2. Payment plan  

It’s good business practice to negotiate a payment plan with your client before you deliver any services. This includes discussing their budget, any financial restraints and whether they can pay on time. 


You may want to have a chat with your clients to see what kind of payment plan works out best for both you and them. This way, you can secure a good relationship with your clients, while also ensuring payments are made on time, and on terms that are comfortable for both parties. If you have flexible payment options for your client, listing these on your invoice can also help mitigate the risk that your invoice will be paid late. 

3. Ask for a deposit   

It’s also quite common for tradies to ask for a deposit or a down payment before the services are provided. 


This might be best for long-term clients who are familiar with the quality of your work, and who you trust to pay the remainder once the job is completed. Regardless, a deposit can help spread out your income for a job, and lower the risk of your client not paying their invoices.  

Read the next three tips in the next issue of NZ Landscaper!

If you need help sorting out the legal side of things as a sole trader or tradie, Sprintlaw is always ready to help you out. We offer a whole range of services to help you start and grow your business. You can contact our team at 0800 002 184 or for a free, no-obligations chat.   

Hnry automatically pays and files taxes, provides a service for admin management, and becomes your accountant. Head to to get started! 


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