Why I Charge A Deposit Before Any Service
Are you one of those Entrepreneurs frustrated with people canceling bookings, taking forever to pay you, pulling disappearing acts, etc. If so you may want to charge a deposit like me. Even though I've been slowly trying to move away from doing full custom design and websites, I still get a few clients here and there through word of mouth.. As of now, I pick and choose the projects I want to take until I'm ready to completely stop and focus on my shop.
I started making customers pay a deposit back in 2011, when I got my portfolio on and popping. Here's why... I had finally got enough work in my portfolio to prove what I could do. When you're starting out, sometimes you have to do a few freebies, fake project examples, or allow first time customers to pay after a provided service, depending on the size of the project. I did all three to increase the work in my portfolio.
Once you get to a point where you realize you're amazing at what you do and others realize it too, it's time to seriously treat yourself that way. As a graphic designer, I always provide low-resolution digital proofs (copies) to customers/clients first to approve. I never give the final design until I have full payment in hand. After having two customers cancel projects on me upon showing them a proof and another customer cancel a payment in the middle of it processing, I decided it was time to take deposits. One thing I don't play with is my time and money. I don't care if it's family or not... I have kids to feed and bills to pay. And... if they are family or friends they should understand that too (but that's another post).
When booking clients, taking deposits helps me weed out the people who aren't serious about buying. I get a lot of potential clients who'll tell me they need my services and want to work with me, and they'll email me and everything. I'll get all excited about a new customer or project, and then I'll never hear from them again. That used to bother me! Now that I only start on projects where deposits are given, I know exactly what my workload will be, how to organize my time for each client, etc. If someone cancels after I've started on a project phase, at least I got paid for the work that I did and the time spent. Imagine how you'd feel if you worked on a project for months, or you had a client scheduled and then they canceled. You could have been working with someone else getting their money or out enjoying life.
So if I were you, I'd figure out a feasible deposit amount and write a policy/term & conditions so that clients know what their getting themselves into. It may also help if you add a price scale for your services online. Your deposit can be refundable, non refundable, or only a certain percentage is refundable, it's all up to you. Also make sure your portfolio is full of great images of the work you want to do more of and the work you enjoy doing. This way you'll grab your "dream clients" The people who you really like/want to work with. For instance, my portfolio shows a lot of projects done for women entrepreneurs and logos with pink and bright colors. This is because I really only want to work with clients who are women who want to start a business or rebrand the one the have and customers who love pink or pops of color.
Think of it this way, clients who look at your portfolio and then are turned off because you want payment first aren't people you want to work with anyway. You want to work with people who love your work, love what you do and are happy to pay you for your quality and time. If you give in to someone because they want the work first, I can assure you, you're more than likely going to have problems with them later. Sometimes, you can tell what customers are going to be a handful from the beginning. Charging them a deposit up front shows you're serious about your business. If they can't pay up front let them move on to the next. I'd rather lose money than to waste my time on someone who doesn't find what I do that valuable anyway.
9 times out of 10 some customers end up coming right back to me because they realized after trying to be cheap they got what they paid for going somewhere else. (Yeah, I said it)
So permission granted to charge a deposit Babe. If you do good work, You deserve it!
My current way of accepting payments, deposits, and recurring payments from clients is through