We didn’t flood the new carpets / Why it pays to put due dates on your invoices

Scott and I just spent about a week gradually moving out of our old rental and into a new one. The first order of business was replacing the carpets, a project we’d agreed to take on in exchange for not having to pay rent until the lease on our previous rental ran out.

On our first full day in the house, after the carpets were in, we triggered a small flood during a failed attempt at replacing the ancient water filter. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that the main water shutoff valve is broken (now we know!), so it’s impossible to shut the water main off completely. I’ve never been so grateful for my travel towel.

I was expecting to have to pay the emergency plumber Big Bucks for coming out in the middle of a three-day weekend. Amazingly, the invoice he sent later that day came to only $46 NZD (~$31 USD), a small price to pay for having saved the new carpets, yay!

But that invoice was missing a very critical detail: a due date. In fact, none of the invoices I received over the last couple of weeks — one from the plumber, one from the carpet people, and one from a doctor — included a due date! Clearly I need to share my latest video around:

Spoiler: if you want to get paid faster, your invoices need due dates. Research shows that 1-2 week deadlines are more effective than 3-4 week deadlines. And include details so your clients know how to pay you!

I paid all three invoices within a few days because:

  1. In the middle of moving, I had no interest in trying to keep track of said invoices;
  2. We’re probably going to have to call up that plumber again very soon to replace the filter properly, and I’d rather he know us as “that nice couple who paid me right away” rather than “those asshats who tried to fix that thing on their own AND THEN took ages to pay me!”; and
  3. I’ve been that small business person waiting for someone to pay up, and I know what a giant waste of time it is to go chasing payments for work you’ve already done, not to mention how shitty it feels to get blown off by people and companies who clearly don’t need the money as much as you do.

So! Put due dates on your invoices. And pay your bills promptly, because you never know when you’ll need a vendor to repay a favor… or save your brand new carpets.

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