Problem: You get home from a successful event, pull out the envelope the harried hostess gave you at the end of the event, and upon opening it, realize that she shorted you $50. You’re upset at first, but when you give it some thought, you wonder if the problem was your own lack of communication rather than her trying to pay you less than you had originally agreed on for your work.
Solution: I experienced this scenario myself recently, and while I was initially dismayed, I had to admit that it was at least partially my own lack of communication and business planning that had resulted in me walking away without complete payment. I went back through emails to make sure I hadn’t somehow given the client the idea that I was charging less. I had originally quoted her the correct amount, so I knew it was at least partially her mistake, but I also realized I had not restated the amount that would be due in a clear way, having made a slight change in my event contract. After reflection, I was certain that was why she gave me the wrong amount. What could I have done better?
Reiterate the event total in emails and texts as well as in the event contract. This particular client was more difficult than the average when it came to responding to texts and emails. That sometimes happens with clients, especially in the holiday season. They have extra things going on in their personal lives, so for these people, it’s more important than it would normally be to over communicate all event details.
State the event total instead of the amount due in the event contract. This is where I’m fairly sure my client misunderstood my contract. Instead of stating the total event amount (my normal practice), I listed the retainer separately and then gave the balance. She subtracted the retainer from the balance and paid me that amount instead of the full amount due.
Get paid in advance. Lori Hurley and several other face painting business gurus advise that face painters do this. There are lots of good reasons for it, such as not having that awkward moment of requesting payment in front of the guests or not having to wait until the busy hostess gets it to you when you have to leave for another event. If you get it in advance electronically, you know they’ve paid you the full amount, and you don’t have to worry about money issues at the event.
Give your client a receipt for the event balance. While payment in advance is the best way to go, a second option, if you definitely want payment at the event, would be to ask for the balance at the beginning instead of at the end of the event. After the client pays you, count it and give her a receipt. It might feel more awkward doing this in front of guests, so it’s better to do it upfront, but the best option is still to have it taken care of before you arrive at the party at all.
Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in Elgin, Illinois. She services the western and northwestern Chicago suburbs, Chicago’s north side, and the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Rockford. Stop by Clownantics.com to enjoy more of Beth’s face painting tutorials.