How to Ask Clients for Money (With Examples)

Asking confidently for a deposit, or even payment upfront can show all of your clients that you quite literally mean business.

When you work for another business you don't need to worry about certain things. A responsibility like collecting payment from clients is something the accounts team handles - you might have to write the invoices, but you aren't the one chasing down the payments. In most cases, you'll be pay regardless of where the client has paid or not.

When you're a small business owner, this no longer holds true. In most cases not only are you providing the service, but the one handling the invoice. If the client doesn't pay, neither do you.

Do you ask for a deposit?

So with this in mind when do you ask for a deposit, payment upfront, or payment by a certain date?

In 99% of cases clients will pay the correct amount on time, but you need to protect yourself from that sneaky 1% of people who will try and exploit you. First off your contract needs to state very clearly your intentions regarding payment. In the contract we freely provide to you it says:

"It is agreed that the fee, plus VAT if applicable, for an event shall be payable on the date stated on the invoice. Failure to pay, or pay in full may lead to legal action being taken."

Therefore, if the contract states there is a deposit to be paid by the 29/09/2023 that is the last day the client has to pay you, if they don't you have the right to pursue legal action.

Before the client has signed the contract you need to decide what payment you would like from the client and when. If you're ever unsure, as for a deposit! Most people will ask for anything ranging from 20-50% of the booking total and ask for it to be paid pretty quickly. As a general rule of thumb make sure the deposit is paid by the midway point between confirming the booking and the event.

When a deposit is not needed

But, some people don't ask for a deposit which is totally fine, it just means you have to be a little more cautious. We recommend the remaining balance should be paid 24 hours before the event and remember; no payment, no service. When it comes to payment it's risk management - can you afford for them not to pay you? If no, be firm with your clients.

How to ask for payment professionally

Below are a few example texts you can use. Being formal sends the message you are not here to be nice and business means business!

Example 1:

The client has a few days left to pay.

Dear John,

I hope you are well.

I just wanted to remind you, you have until 23/04/2023 to pay the deposit for your event on the 06/10/2024. I know you still have a few days to make the payment, but I need to confirm the date with my musicians. If we don't get your deposit by then I'm afraid we will have to cancel.

Best wishes,

Example 2:

The client still hasn't paid and it's past the date.

Dear John,

The deposit was due yesterday and I have still not received any payment, is everything ok? If so, are you able to make payment as soon as possible, if not please give me a call and we can discuss the options. Remember, we won't be able to perform at your event if you don't make payment.

Best wishes,

Remember there's no room for timidity when it comes to collecting payment. Be firm and confident, always ask for a deposit and don't be threaten to take legal action.

Checklist in asking clients for money

  1. Before you do anything, check the client received the invoice! To request payment professionally, it's important to first make sure there was no error or miscommunication about the invoice.
  2. If everything is in order, send the client an email requesting payment.
  3. If you get no answer by email, call them up.
  4. Consider cancelling the event (if it hasn't happened yet), or stop any further events.
  5. If you're not expecting to ever get the money you can either write the debit off, or research collection agencies and review your legal options.

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