Policies and Procedures

Discuss the importance of policies and procedures in your virtual assistance business.

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Old 11-20-2011
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Default Deposit and when to require payment
Does anyone require a deposit for services? I know I request a deposit for all website/social media related services.

When should require receipt of payment? Before or After product/project/task delivered?
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Old 11-21-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I request a deposit on all services. For project for work it is 50% before work starts and 50% before final deliverable. For retainer I get first month payment before work starts and for one off or ongoing I get a deposit to be applied to the invoice of the current work.
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Old 11-21-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I do charge a deposit for project work (and of course retainer time is always paid in advance). Generally it's 50% before work begins. That said, I do waive the deposit for some long term clients that have a history of fast payment, but they know that payment is expected immediately upon completion of their project.
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Old 11-21-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I request a 3-hour deposit from all new clients before starting work.
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Old 11-21-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Thanks! I appreciate the info! I am a firm believe that a deposit is good faith money! lol.
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Old 12-19-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Do you guys have a cut-off timeframe? At what point do you consider it appropriate to discontinue services until payment has been received?
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Old 12-19-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Payment is due upon receipt of the invoice. Work commences when the invoice is paid. However, for long-term clients, I will send reminders at 48 hours using PayPal's reminder service. Since I am holding their deposit, I will continue work but 48 hours is my limit. My contract details all of this out and all my clients know that payment is due upon receipt of the invoice.

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Old 12-24-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I like your method of invoicing, Janine, very much. We've had to chase a couple of clients and it's not pleasant. We did eventually receive payment, but I'd like to utilize this method for prevention purposes.
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Old 12-28-2011
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I require a deposit of new clients OR if there will be a lot of transcripts related to one project, instead of a deposit I offer the option of e-mailing an invoice with each transcript and not starting the next one until that invoice is paid.

For regular clients I either invoice with each transcript or once a month with payment due within 30 days, whichever the client prefers. I work with a lot of larger companies and this has worked well for me.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Do you charge a deposit for hourly first time clients as well? What about long term clients..do you charge a deposit for hourly plans?
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Old 03-06-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I feel like taking a deposit is acceptable. I don't know how I'd feel about commencing work with any payment up front. Glad to hear I am not the only one who likes to work this way.
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Old 09-14-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Does anyone charge a set-up fee? I have temporarily set $250 for a setup but I didn't know perhaps a deposit would take its place?
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Old 09-19-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
This is a great discussion because I wanted to know if anyone charges a deposit for consultations. I have a "potential client" that has been a No-call/No-show twice so far and I have decided that I want to start charging for consultation, a non-refundable fee that can be applied to services and wanted to know if others are doing the same.
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Old 09-20-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
For project work, I require a 50% deposit of the cost estimate to schedule the work. I then complete the work, and send the client a draft (PDF copy that has a DRAFT watermark stamp on it) for them to review/approve. Once approved, I send the client the final invoice with the balance due. After payment is received, I finalize the document (i.e., remove watermark, save it in Word, Excel, etc. format), and deliver it to them.

For project work that is task-based (i.e., no document to send), I request a 100% deposit of the estimated total cost of the project (advance payment); if the final cost exceeds the estimate, then I bill them for the overage.

For ongoing clients, I only work on a prepaid hours basis (a/k/a retainer). They purchase blocks of hours in advance for the amount of hours we determine they would need my services in a month -- 20 hours (5 hrs/week; 1 hr/day); 40 hours (10/hrs/week; 2 hrs/day); 60 hours (15 hrs/week; 3 hrs/day). I submit the invoice with the Service Agreement and start work once I receive the signed service agreement and first month's block payment. When their account balance reaches a low point of 2 hours or less, I bill them for another block of hours. Sometimes they use up the hours before the end of the month, but if they don't, I automatically bill them on the 29th of each month for another block. They can downgrade or upgrade their block purchases anytime according to their needs, but they are always billed at least once a month.

Hope that helps!

Lisa
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Old 09-25-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I would generally not charge a consultation fee, but if they were a no show/no call twice before, I would charge a consult fee or not even bother with them. If you do meet them and decide to do work for them, charge them up front, if they are that inconsiderate from the start, can you imagine their paying schedule?
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Old 09-26-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
I believe Lisa has the right idea with sending the client a draft for them to review/approve. It protects you in the long run.
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Old 09-28-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Exactly Shelley. I've been burned in the past by giving the client their final project and then having them either disappear and not pay me or I had to chase them for the final payment for months. At least I got paid for the deposit (1/2 the fee), but it's the principal.

You need to find a way to protect yourself but also be willing to be fair to the client. My current practice is what I came up with and I believe it is fair for both sides.
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Old 09-28-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Originally Posted by The Perfect Word View Post
I require a deposit of new clients OR if there will be a lot of transcripts related to one project, instead of a deposit I offer the option of e-mailing an invoice with each transcript and not starting the next one until that invoice is paid.

For regular clients I either invoice with each transcript or once a month with payment due within 30 days, whichever the client prefers. I work with a lot of larger companies and this has worked well for me.
Have you gotten any grumblings about wanting to wait and pay all invoices together at a certain time of the month?
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Old 09-29-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
Terri, no, I really haven't. But after I've worked with a new client long enough to know "they're good for it," I give them the option of going to once a month if they want (or anything less than once a month). Some project-only clients like to stay with having one invoice per transcript, some have gone to once a week. All but one of my regular clients are on once-a-month billing; the other one wants an invoice with each transcript. I try to be as flexible as I can but still protect myself as well.
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Old 09-29-2012
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Default Re: Deposit and when to require payment
When I began, I would charge 50% or payment in full upon accepting a project but after a horrific experience with one client, in most cases I charge the full amount up front including a provision of funds for any possible additional fees that go hand in hand with the service (ie, government fees, town hall fees etc). You soon find out which clients are trustworthy and I've worked with one in particular since 2007 who has never given me any grief about payment so his case is different but I would definitely recommend receiving payment up front especially when dealing with new clients.
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