We've all had them, - the customer who's never in when you go to collect the money,- but here are the steps i've been taught to make sure we get paid for ALL the work that we do.
there are 3 reasons for not paying -can't pay, won't pay and don't know they have to pay
Can't pay = They havn't got the money to pay you.
Solve it by - doing a credit check in advance or asking for a deposit, For a larger project, - Asking directly, - Do you have the funds in place now, or will you need to get a loan?
Won't pay = Are they unhappy with your work, did you not say how much it would be,
Solve it by - Specifying in advance what you will be doing for what money (Assume - makes an Ass out of u and me) Checking all through the work that they are ok with what you have done, - if problems solve them before continuing
Don't know they have to pay = do you state your T & C's when you have to be paid by? - or have you stated at the beginning that you will need paying xxxx amount by yyy date?
Solve it by - being clear from the beginning (on your website?) what you charge, state what is included and what is extra, and when you expect to be paid by - my t's and c's say by the 28th of the month for regular clients, within 2 weeks of invoice date for all other projects
When I started in business, I didn't like talking about the money side of things, - I loved what I did, and was keen to get into peoples gardens, and help them make them better. - Now I make sure my initial conversation has something like " your initial investment will be....." - so that I can judge if they realise what the price is likely to be.
What processes have you got in place, and what do you need to improve on to make sure you get your money promptly?