Oftentimes, the cost of building, designing or maintaining a website is not as simple as it seems. Every project is unique, with diverse design requirements, feature requests and maintenance agreements. This means that every price is different as well. You’ll additionally have to factor in that many individuals and companies cannot, or do not want to, pay the full cost of a website up front. Because of these issues, it can be worth your time to create specific payment plan templates that are applicable to a few situations.
Why you need to offer a payment plan
Not sure you need to offer a payment plan for your web design clients? Here’s why you should consider it:
Your client can more easily afford the cost
Whether they are a small business owner without much up-front capital or a large company with strict spending guidelines, paying with a payment plan helps various clients afford a website that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
There is more of a guarantee that you will be paid
All self-employed web designers know that you occasionally have to chase clients for their payment. If you build an entire website and then ask for the price you agreed upon, you might not get it. If you get paid in increments, however, you can cut your losses early if you are unlucky enough to stumble across a client like this.
Automatic payment plans make things simpler
Not every client will agree to a payment plan where their money is automatically deducted on a regular basis, but those who do will help you feel even more secure about receiving your payment on time.
Best payment plan templates
There are many types of payment plan templates you can use to schedule work and payments with your clients. After you create a good template, you can adjust it depending on your specific project.
Of course, website maintenance work requires a much different payment plan structure than design- or development-focused projects. Let’s review some of the most popular options.
Annual payment. An annual payment template typically gives discounts to the customer in exchange for the customer making the full yearly payment in a lump sum. This is mutually beneficial because you will have guaranteed payment and the client will have a sizeable discount.
Monthly payment. If you use a monthly payment template, your client usually doesn’t get a discount. However, they are able to split up the cost over time, making budgeting for it much easier. Additionally, you can feel secure knowing that you won’t have to wait until the end of the project to get paid. Instead, you’ll receive smaller, regular installments.
Beyond choosing between annual payments or monthly payments, you have the option to decide on a payment template that is biannual, quarterly, or weekly, with scaling discounts and benefits for each. For each of these payment types, make sure you include the date of payment and a rolling payment date for those months that the payment date falls on a weekend or holiday.
Choose a payment plan template that works for both you and your client, and have a contract with clearly defined terms. Doing your homework upfront saves you time, stress and frustration later.
After choosing a payment plan template with your client, you can then decide exactly how you’ll get paid. You can set up a regular direct deposit or credit card payment, which is very convenient for you as you’ll have guaranteed installments, as well as for your client who doesn’t have to remember to send payments according to set schedules. However, not many clients choose this option.
The most common method is for you to send a regular invoice with a clear due date (i.e., due upon receipt; due in 15 days). As a web designer, you should have a contract with clear terms specifying any penalties your clients might face for not paying according to your agreed upon payment plan template.
Design or development work
As a web designer or developer, it can be very difficult to know how to make a good payment plan template. First, you must create a very detailed list of all of your services. Many people don’t understand all of the work that goes into designing and/or developing a website, so it’s important to make clear exactly what is included in your base price and what constitutes an additional charge.
After creating this once, you can reuse it each time you build a new website.
After you and your client both understand the total cost of the web design, it’s time to make a payment plan template. There are a few different ways you can handle this.
Payment upon acceptance or completion. After you have decided upon a final price, some developers prefer to just keep it simple and have one large payment. This can either be once a contract is signed between you and your client or upon completion of the project. One way to have security for both parties is to split this, making half of the payment at the beginning and half at the end.
Payment per feature. If you have each feature marked as a separate cost on your payment plan template, this is a simple way to let your clients make small, regular payments while feeling comfortable that you will complete all of the work. Additionally, you can feel more protected knowing that you haven’t done months worth of work without any pay.
Depending on your personal preference and that of the client, the payment could be made before the feature is started, after the feature is completed, or split again with 50 percent at the beginning and 50 percent at the end.
Perfecting your payment plan template
The best option for your payment plan template is to create a variety of templates for maintenance, development and design work, and then customize them as needed for each client. For example, you might prefer to use your payment per feature template for some projects, while implementing a payment upon completion model for others.
There are many software options available, both free and paid, that help you design a professional template to share with your clients so they can understand exactly how the project price is determined and when to pay. Make sure you include any late-payment penalty amounts in this, as well as your protocol for adding additional features after you have agreed on the project. Alternatively, if you know your way around Excel, you could easily create your own template.
The time spent establishing a good payment plan template that works well for your business is immeasurable. After you create it once, you can continuously update and reuse it throughout your career, making payments simple and straightforward.