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Asking Your Client For an Up-front Deposit ?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum:' started by JeromeCollinge, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. JeromeCollinge

    JeromeCollinge Junior Member

    How many other designers ask their clients for an upfront deposit payment before starting any work ?

    In the past I've accepted/started projects without asking for any deposit what so ever and most of the time if not all the time when the work is finished and we reach the payment stage the client suddenly disappears from the face of the earth. I know asking for some type of deposit is a good idea because it covers you and ensures your not wasting your time with somebody but what sets me off thinking is when you lose a client because you told them you need a deposit and you get that '' I'll get back to you '' comment or sometimes no reply what so ever.
  2. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    All the time. I ask for 50% upfront and if they don't want to pay I don't work with them. I see it as a form of quality control.

    Most people probably would be happy to pay the full amount afterwards, but I'm not taking that risk.
  3. mcskillz

    mcskillz Member

    I'm 30% up front for irregular or new clients. They don't wanna pay, run the other way.
  4. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Depends - if I know they'll pay me then not an issue. If I don't then I ask for a down payment on the work and may even ask for staggered payments at key points if it's a large project.

    It also depends on the project, a smaller project I'm less likely to ask for one but if it's a large one then it's a certainty, sometimes it's just not worth all the paperwork when it's a smaller project :)
  5. mcskillz

    mcskillz Member

    Well you can't know for sure if someone will pay you unless they've paid you before!
  6. I'm a 30 - 50% up front person too.. don't work with people not willing to put their money into the project from the get-go.. been burned too many times.
  7. Jimlad

    Jimlad Well-Known Member

    Saves time if they disappear from the face of the earth BEFORE you've done all the work.
  8. Russell

    Russell Member

    If it's something that is going to be developing over a period of time staged payments as Levi mentioned is worth setting out. Some new clients, especially small businesses can be genuinely quite reticent of putting 50% down straight off for large jobs like new branding or websites etc, which is quite understandable. I'll often charge them a day rate to start off with to put together some research, plan of action/ timeframes and payments, and poss some very rough initial ideas to make sure they feel confident in my appointment. One point to note though I always make sure I get signed T&Cs before undertaking any work, and be very clear that the designs/ concepts you present cannot be used in part or full unless you are employed to develop them.

    In my experience this approach helps dispel any worries the client has and has always led to the full job being undertaken, with everyone knowing where they stand.

    If there not willing to put up anything up front you can pretty much guarantee a headache somewhere down the line in getting payment.
  9. richimgd

    richimgd Member

    I used to think in a similar way. I was quite casual with my approach to work and didn't always ask for a deposit or mention a contact etc. I have since changed and all my clients understand.
    I ask for anywhere between 20-50% upfront. Larger jobs tend to be at the lower end of this scale and have more stages of payment, whereas small to medium size jobs could be 50% upfront and the remaining 50% when the work is complete. If the client seems unhappy about 50% deposit, then simply ask for a less deposit. As long as they are happy and you're not putting yourself at risk by doing lots of extra work without being paid for it, you'll be fine.
  10. JeromeCollinge

    JeromeCollinge Junior Member

    Thanks for the posts everybody, some really great tips to learn here. Asking for deposits is something I'll always do, like mentioned by Chris, I've also been burned too many times and feel that the deposit question helps weed out the serious from the time wasters.
  11. Murugan

    Murugan Junior Member

  12. br3n

    br3n Senior Member

    33% upfront for me and non returnable if they just "pull out"

    No deposit, no work.
  13. FormeCreative

    FormeCreative New Member

    Hi. With us it depends what the nature of the work is. For any new clients it is always 100% up front. For regular clients that just use us for supply of graphic design we give them 30 days.

    For any web related projects we take 50% up front and then the balance on completion BEFORE the site is launched. For projects £2k+ we'll take 50% up front and then stagger the balance depending on how we've scheduled the development.

    General rule of thumb on larger sites for us is to have the client paying up front wherever possible before each phase of development starts - that way you know the commitment is there.

    We've luckily not had any web clients go awol, but have had our fair share of invoice chasing over the years!
  14. Shady

    Shady Junior Member

    We also invoice in phases. Usually 30% deposit; 30% on design sign off and 40% before going live. No-one usually has an issue with it.

    What I am wondering though is how long should that 30% deposit last. We have a couple of clients who paid the deposit and then disappeared. They might come back a year later but by then the proposal could be out of date and the client wants new things and we need to spend the time again refreshing our research about the job. Would it be resonably to put in a clause like 'if we dont hear from you for 6 months then we keep the deposit and you'll have to pay it again' kinda thing?
    We have spent a lot of time contacting the clients trying to get the ball rolling but at some stage your have to give up. And I dont want them ringing up in a years time or more saying - right, now we're on.

    Anyone else had this problem?

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