Without timely client approvals, you may not be able to collect cash. To make sure you stay on payment schedule, try these three best practices for gaining client approvals.
"Draft a detailed SOW with approval processes, so you have a clause to point to." — Mavenlink CEO Ray Grainger
First, set clear expectations
Before your work begins, your statement of work (SOW) sets the expectations for client approvals. Include the dates, processes for, methods of, and implications of approval as well as the effects of failure to approve. If phase two of your project relies on phase one approvals, lay it out in your SOW. When your project can’t continue because the client didn’t complete approvals, you will have the SOW clause to point to.
Second, remind your client
Your SOW is the legal backbone during the project completion. Point back to your approvals clauses right before approvals. If the client fails to approve, point back to these approvals clauses during your meetings and phone calls. Stay cordial; your client has a lot to accomplish too. But emphasize the importance of approving on time. Reiterate the progress that can be made following approvals, and the consequences in time and money without approvals. It’s okay to remind them that lack of approvals can create additional costs and push their timeline out.
"Address the situation, not a specific individual." — Mavenlink CEO Ray Grainger
Let them know when you can’t budge on approvals
Clients want to preserve their good relationship as much as you do. They also want the project completed on time and budget. So set up a meeting or call when you need a past-due approval. Try phrases such as, “It’s been difficult to receive approvals and, because of that, XYZ.” At this point, your conversation becomes a negotiation between you and your client, seeing how both parties can meet midway to make the project continue moving forward. Take the “Help me help you” approach.
Payment schedule is core to your business. Make sure your clients approve work on time with these best practices.
- Set clear expectations
- Refer back to your SOW
- Explain why past-due approvals are critical