Getting Paid: 5 Things All CPAs Need to Know
A consistent, reliable cash flow is essential to the health and success of any business. However, most accounting professionals spend more time helping their clients get paid than taking care of their own business. Regardless of the size of your practice, there are a number of simple billing and collection habits that will modernize the way you accept client payments and prioritize your own cash flow.
1. Learn to interview clients
Most professionals have learned that not all business is good business. From clients who have unrealistic expectations to those who will never pay you under any circumstances, there are several attitudes and characteristics that clients may display during an initial meeting that could reveal that they are not a good fit for your practice. Learning to interview clients in a way that will uncover these potential problems will prevent you from wasting valuable time and energy on a client who is unlikely to pay you, or pay you in full, for your services.
2. Have a clear, signed accounting contract
With every new client, you should make sure you have a signed contract that explicitly details the scope of your work, your clients’ rights, your obligations, and your fees. Should there ever be a question or disagreement about what a client owes you for your work, it will be invaluable to have a signed contract to which you can refer.
3. Bill clients immediately
Clients are most likely to be satisfied with you upon the immediate completion of your services, and you should make the most of their appreciation by billing them promptly. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the client will forget the value of the service you provided them and become less interested in paying you for your work.
4. Follow up
If you notice that a certain client payment is overdue, stop what you are doing and send them a friendly reminder at that very moment. In many instances, you will find that clients have every intention of paying you, but simply forget to because of other distractions and obligations.
5. Accept credit cards
Most of your clients expect the option to pay online with a credit card, and many will specifically look to hire a CPA who gives them this option. Accepting online credit card payments is the fastest way for you to get paid, as your clients can pay you in seconds from any computer or mobile device. In fact, a recent survey of professional offices showed that clients paid 35% faster when given the option to pay online. If you want to make sure you get paid reliably and consistently, you need to modernize your practice by accepting online payments.
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