AA 020 | Pay Upfront


Do your clients pay upfront, or do they pay after you’ve done the work?

Charging your clients in full before you do any of the work can help your firm be more efficient and effective for your business.

When I was talking to one of my recent accounting students, I was shocked to find out that he had more than $60,000 in accounts receivable! He found himself spending so much time chasing down clients for payment when he could have been serving them and increasing the value in the services he was providing.

If you’re charging after you complete the work for a client, I’d encourage you to consider changing to require payment in full before any work has even begun.

It can be a tricky transition, but you can take baby steps towards dwindling down your receivables to zero When I worked with my last company, FITzee Foods, I had a brick-and-mortar location, and when we were working with the contractors, I had to pay 50% before the plans would be taken to the city for approval, and I had to pay the other 50% before the construction would begin.

Following a 50/50 system can baby-step your clients into paying in full before the work starts, and you’ll ultimately be able to spend more time serving your clients and getting them better results vs. chasing them down after sending invoices out!

If you’re tired of chasing clients down for payment, then this week’s episode of The Abundant Accountant Podcast is a MUST listen!

Enjoy, and thank you for listening and tuning into The Abundant Accountant Podcast!


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Join me so you can unlock the secrets to growing a profitable accounting firm with less stress by joining our upcoming Abundant Accountants Masterclass!


You will learn:

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  • Proven tactics to actually get paid instead of giving away FREE advice!
  • How to stop competing on price FOREVER!


Join our Abundant Accountants Masterclass today over at theabundantaccountant.com.


Here are a few key secrets we talked about in this episode:

  • Michelle introduces herself and the topic of today’s episode: requiring payment upfront from clients.
  • Many accounting firm owners find themselves chasing down clients for payment, often for work completed as far as nine months previous. This doesn’t serve accountants, nor does it help them serve their clients at the highest level!
  • I get asked a lot about how to start charging upfront for services instead of after the service is done.
  • It may not be the most common practice for a CPA or accountant to charge upfront for services, but there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate this into your firm right away.
  • You can request payment ahead of time for a long-term project or with a brand new client for even just compliance work or services rendered monthly.
  • Michelle shares a story of a student that had more than $60,000 in accounts receivable. That’s crazy; you don’t have time for that, and this can get down to zero quickly.
  • If you think about how much time you spend chasing down payments from work you have already completed, that is time that you could be delivering value to your other clients instead.
  • Getting payment upfront not only can increase your revenue, but it can get the cash flow going in the positive flow and make you appear more professional and trustworthy.
  • Think about courses similar to a leadership training I just took. I had to pay in advance before I started any of the training!
  • Also, think about a general contractor: with my old business, I had a retail store. When we were doing the store build-out, I had to pay 50% of the fees upfront before they even took the blueprints to the city for approval. I had to pay the other 50% of the fees before anything was even started for the build-out!
  • If you think that your clients will hesitate to pay upfront, you can start with a 50/50 system: require the first % of the payment upfront, and then before you deliver the tax returns or the final tax plan, require the other 50% to be paid in full prior to delivery of any work.
  • Take baby steps towards charging in full upfront!
  • Before I personally work with any clients, they pay in full, in advance, before any work or classes begin.
  • Having clients pay in advance ensures that you have cash flow and money in the bank. When it comes time to pay your employees or the rent, you know where the money is and don’t have to chase it down.
  • For monthly work, you can bill upfront. For example, Bill on the 1st of the month for the full month of service: that can also help cover any expenses for you, like software, etc..
  • Charging upfront helps eliminate cash flow problems in your business.
  • Remember, this is The Abundant Accountant Podcast, so if you want to live that life of abundance, you have to do the work to establish a firm of abundance.
  • When you charge upfront, you do elevate your value and set yourself apart from other firms.
  • One of my students runs an efficient firm and actually has set up ACH debits for his clients, so they are billed automatically on the 1st of every month prior to the services being performed.
  • Charging upfront builds trust, as you are making the process smooth and easy so that you can spend the maximum time possible serving your clients.
  • Having a money-back guarantee will also help ease the minds of hesitant clients.
  • Making the change to getting paid upfront can be hard, but framing it as a way to provide even better client service will help your clients see and embrace the benefit.
  • For a monthly retainer, I do not personally recommend the 50/50 approach we talked about earlier. Monthly retainers should be collected 100% upfront
  • This can be a big shift in your firm, and it will help make it more efficient!


Learn More & Connect With Me Here!



Join me so you can unlock the secrets to growing a profitable accounting firm with less stress by joining our upcoming Abundant Accountants Masterclass!


You will learn:

  • The easiest ways to sift through clients and get to the RIGHT ones!
  • Proven tactics to actually get paid instead of giving away FREE advice!
  • How to stop competing on price FOREVER!


Join our Abundant Accountants Masterclass today over at theabundantaccountant.com.

Listen to the podcast here


How To Charge Clients In Advance Before Providing Services

In this episode, I am talking about the benefits of requiring upfront payments and how and why accountants should get paid before any work is done. It’s important. I’ve seen many business owners, especially accounting firm owners, that are always chasing their clients down to collect on invoices for work they did nine months ago. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help you and doesn’t serve your clients well. I often get asked by a lot of my accounting clients, “How do I start charging upfront instead of getting paid after the service is done? How do you do that? I don’t understand.” I totally understand. I’m right there with you. It may not be the most common practice for CPAs and accountants, but there is no reason why you can’t incorporate this into your firm right away.

I will share all of the benefits of upfront payments and how to get your clients to want to pay you upfront, so you no longer have any accounts receivable. That’s what we’re talking about. I am happy that you’re here and joining me. Before I dive into the episode, I am very interested in learning to discover more about those of you who read every other episode. If you’re wondering how you can do this, I’d like to take a moment to extend an invitation to you to subscribe and leave a written review so I can keep on delivering the content that you want and love to read, then I’m going to take those written reviews and share them on a future episode.

I invite each of you to take a screenshot of this episode when you are finished reading it, and then make sure to tag me @MichelleWeinstein on your post and #TheAbundantAccountantPodcast, and post it to your LinkedIn feed. Tell me what is your biggest takeaway from this episode that you’re going to implement in your firm.

Some of the best times to get upfront payments are if you don’t have a contract yet with you and the client. If you’re in the beginning stages of building that rapport and that client relationship with your clients, this is a great opportunity to request payment upfront. If you’re working on a long-term project, that’s another great way to be able to collect money upfront from your clients before you render and do any services whatsoever.

If you have a new client that you don’t fully trust yet, that’s another great way to ask and demand an upfront payment. If you don’t want any accounts receivables anymore, if you’re sick and tired of chasing your clients all the time trying to collect on invoices, I’m going to give you a couple of examples. I was working with a CPA. I was on the phone. I said, “How much money do you not have in cashflow in your bank account because you provided services, sent out invoices and never collected the money yet?”

One person told me $60,000 in accounts receivable and to be honest, it’s absurd. It’s crazy. You don’t have time for that. If you think about how much time you take or your staff takes collecting money, you could be delivering that value and that service to your high-paying clients and never having to chase any clients ever again. That accountant, let me tell you, started literally charging upfront for all services and is slowly still collecting on that $60,000. If you’re sick of being a bill collection company, then these are the times to get an upfront payment.

AA 020 | Pay Upfront

Pay Upfront: Think about how much time you take collecting money. You could be using that time delivering value and service to your high-paying customers so you never have to chase any clients ever again.


You might be wondering, “What are the benefits of getting paid up upfront?” Conceptually, I understand it, but let me walk you through some of the different ways on why it’s important and why making this shift in your firm could be an amazing opportunity for you to not only increase your revenue but help with your cashflow. Requiring an upfront payment can make you seem a little bit more professional and trustworthy.

I’m going to give you another example of this. I love working with accountants, but lately, I’ve been doing leadership training. If I look at the way the leadership training operates as far as their payments go, they require you to be paid in full before you start any of the training. Why is it in some industries like accounting or other industries, like even when you go to the doctor, you pay a copay and they send you a bill later, they have many collections going on in collection companies and other areas?

The one area I see accounting professionals very similar to is a general contractor. There is no one that’s going to build you a house, office building or retail space for you without being paid 100% upfront. I like to give my analogy of the general contractor because, with the last company that I had for about eight years, I built out a retail store. Even before they gave me the beautiful rendering of the store with all the paint colors, where the chairs and tables were going and everything else, I had to have 50% paid upfront.

On a buildout, that was $100,000. I had to pay $50,000 right away. Before that, they give you the blueprints, the big stack of papers that you have to take to the city to get approved before you can start building it. They required the other 50%. If you’re like, “This idea is good, but this is a big stretch. I’ve got 100 or 200 clients and they’ve never been used to this before,” then one of the best ways to make this happen is to try the 50/50 roll.

Have 50% payment right away and then before you deliver the final tax returns or tax plan require the other 50%. It’s like taking baby steps into a full 100% pay in full on the front end, but you’ll thank me later. You’ll send me an email, “This changed my business. I don’t have to chase $60,000 anymore in accounts receivable,” and it will be a win-win for everybody. Not only is it more of a professional way of doing it and it has you be a little bit more trustworthy too, but it shows your confidence in helping your clients to be able to request money upfront. It’s super duper important.

AA 020 | Pay Upfront

Pay Upfront: Doing the 50/50 roll makes you a trustworthy accountant. It shows your confidence in helping clients to be able to request money upfront.


The other thing that helps, and I personally experience this because I also operate from this premise, is before I work with any client, they always pay me in advance. It does help with cashflow. It ensures you have enough money in the bank. How many of you have teams of employees and then payroll comes around, or how many of you have an office and the rent comes around? It’s one of the biggest, greatest assets that you can bring to your firm if you can start implementing this.

In baby steps, you can do 50% upfront and then 50% before you deliver the final product service that you’re giving your clients, be it the tax returns for this coming tax season. What if you implement that now in this tax season? How much would your firm change? It also works well on longer-term projects. I was working with one of my CPAs and he was doing a tax plan for a client. Let’s say you already know the client’s financial situation. Maybe they’re in a cashflow crunch or they want to do a deposit and then start working with you in three weeks.

You could do a $5,000 or $10,000 deposit and then collect the difference midway and then at the end. Whatever’s going to work for you, do that way first. If it’s a little too drastic to go to getting paid a 100% in full right away, try the 50% right now and then 50% before you deliver a final tax return or if there’s an IRS complaint letter that you’re helping them fix or a tax plan, or maybe you’re doing CFO type services. If you’re doing CFO-type services, invoice on the first of every month before the services are provided. If you’re providing them, let’s say, services for January, bill them on January 1st for the full month and then provide the services from January 1 to 31.

Getting paid upfront also can help you cover out-of-pocket and unexpected expenses in your firm. For example, what if you need to get new software or there’s an update on software that comes out? If your clients pay upfront, then you will never have any problem with cashflow. All of the cashflow challenges that you have in your business will go away. It prevents you from having a huge accounts receivable problem.

Hunting people down to get them to pay you is simply a waste of your time. Not only is it a waste of your time, but I do also believe that you’re taking away precious time for the clients that you can be serviced at a higher level. I was talking to a CPA. He was telling me, “I don’t have time to invest in learning more on how to better my clients.” His main goal is to set himself apart from all of his peers. I’m thinking, “How are you going to set yourself apart if you’re not willing to invest the time?” It’s similar to chasing accounts receivable. It’s going to free up time. You can spend the time on continuing education, reading this blog more, servicing your clients or traveling.

AA 020 | Pay Upfront

Pay Upfront: Hunting people down to get them to pay you is not only a waste of your time. It also takes away precious time for the clients you can be servicing at a higher level.


This show is to have a firm of and life of abundance. If you want a life of abundance, it’s time to change how you operate in your firm. Other reasons why getting paid up upfront is important. It shows your value and worth. Not only do you have to know your worth as a CPA, but you also need to understand the services that you’re providing. When we ask our clients to be paid in advance, it brings the level of worth and value from, let’s say, you’re at 10% to 25%.

It naturally elevates your value and your worth to your clients. It sets you apart from a lot of other accounting firms. One of our clients that I’ve worked with, his name is Luke, operates an efficient firm. This is what Luke does. I’m going to share a secret, and I think he shared it with you, but I’m going to repeat it because it’s valuable. With clients that are doing monthly services with you, he bills on an ACH debit. If the client is not open to coming into the firm using the ACH debit, they’re not a client of his firm. It’s as simple as that.

He set up some tight boundaries, but it’s paid off for him. Not only has his revenue gone up, but his clientele’s gone up, and he’s got an efficient system. None of his CPAs are calling and collecting money from clients and all the services are getting charged in advance. It’s a win-win for the client and for him, then the clients get the best service possible.

Also, having clients paying you upfront does build trust. You might be wondering, “How does it build trust?” It does because you can share that all of your other clients operate from this premise and that you truly understand. If a client says, “How come you’re making us pay upfront? I’ve never had to do that before.”

You can say, “I completely understand how you feel and that no other accounting firm has ever asked you to get paid upfront. A lot of my other newer clients have felt the exact same way, but to be honest, I want to service you to the highest level. Having you pay in advance for our monthly services will make this process smooth and easy and allow me to spend more time with you, your business, making sure your books are in order and that I’m saving you the most money and taxes. Are you willing to try something new and pay upfront for your services and see the difference in the results that I’m able to provide to you as being a new client of my firm?” That’s a great way to share it with them. It also might be beneficial for you to go back and read the trust-building episode that I did.

Another great way how to get clients to pay you upfront and why it’s great is that you get to communicate and be transparent 100% upfront. Make sure both parties are 100% clear on everything on the services you’re going to be providing, engagement letters that you provided and on your service investment. What are they going to be spending every month working with you, or if it’s a one-time engagement, how much is that engagement for? Also, being clear on what you will not provide.

There are a lot of clients and CPAs that I’ve worked with who say, “The client we engaged for this and then they expected X, Y, and Z.” Having very clear outlines of your engagement letters is crucial. Offering guarantees and writing also helps. I know about half the CPAs that I work with do offer a guarantee on their work because they’re that confident in delivering what they’re promising. You want to underpromise and over-deliver.

If having a guarantee in there helps you get paid up upfront, it’s worth it. Over time you’re going to get so used to it, you’ll be like Luke and say, “If this doesn’t fit your cup of tea, then I’ve got another referral to send you to.” Ultimately having the guarantee knows that you are that confident in the work that you’re providing. You can offer a money-back guarantee as well if you don’t deliver on the promise. If that helps you, we’re working hard to have our clients pay in advance for services. I’m giving you some other ways to help make that happen.

Accounting firms usually want to under-promise and over-deliver. But if having a guarantee can encourage clients to pay upfront, it is worth it. Click To Tweet

Sometimes, by doing a money-back guarantee or to guarantee in general eases it for the newer clients that you have coming in or even your current ones when you’re changing what you’ve done for the last 10 or 20 years. We don’t like change. Not a lot of people like change, at least most people don’t. I love change. I reread the book Who Moved My Cheese.

When we talk about who’s moving the cheese, cheese is having things change on you and sometimes change is great, but I can understand if you’re thinking, “I have 100 clients. They’ve been used to getting an invoice from me three months after I do the work and now I’m going to change it.”You can do a guarantee. You can do the 50% now and then 50% before you do the work or before you complete the final work, whatever makes you feel good about it and comfortable.

This is so you can service and help your clients better and support them at the highest level, but you want to communicate as clearly as possible and answer all of your clients’ questions. There’s no gray area. I want to talk about the gray area because it’s super duper important that we’re clear, to the point and there’s no gray. You want it all to be like black and white. No gray area.

Being flexible, you can require a 50% payment at the time of the meeting and then 50% at the end as an option. Depending on what service you’re doing. If it’s a monthly retainer type service, I would not do this 50/50 option. I would charge 100% on the first of the month for services provided during the 1st, 30th or 31st of that month. If you want, you can change things as the relationship goes on. I always think having a credit card on file for your clients is a wonderful idea if you’ve got a monthly service or doing the ACH debit like Luke does.

Getting paid upfront has a lot of benefits for your firm. But you can only start seeing the results if you take one thing, put it into action today, and make that shift happen. Click To Tweet

How can you make the accounting in your accounting firm simple easing and convenient for you and your clients, ultimately, you can spend more time servicing them, helping them, and getting better results for your clients, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. One goal I want you to take away from because I know this is a big shift for some of you is getting paid upfront does have a lot of benefits for your firm, but we can only start seeing the results if you take one thing and put it action now and making that shift happen. What is one thing that you can take into action or put into action now that we talked about on the show?

I would love for each of you to put into action one thing that you learned. The biggest one that I’ve seen many of my clients make a massive impact on their cashflow, their financial abundance, being able to service their clients at a greater level and serve them the way they want to be served is starting off by doing the 50% paid now and then 50% upon delivery of the service if you feel more comfortable or if you’re ready to make a drastic shift, then, then go all out. If you’re wanting to grow your accounting practice, I’m here to support you in that. A lot of the clients that I’ve worked with have felt stuck and frustrated.

What we found is that you’re not only not charging enough but not getting paid upfront and having a solid system to sift and sort through those clients that will not only consistently pay you well but pay you in advance is amazing. It’s helped a lot of the clients I worked with. I created my course so you can sell without ever having to sell again. Having this information in your hands will not only give you the confidence to work with higher-value clients who are happy to pay you the fees that you deserve, and you’ll never ever have to wait for a busy season again and you’ll have consistent revenue all year round like Luke did.

I’m excited about this and I’m offering you a free coaching session so I can share this information with you as well. If you want to build your firm and work with more higher-value clients and have more time to spend with your friends, and family and live that abundant life you’ve always dreamt of, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com. You can book the first slot that you see there with me or my partner Denise. Thank you much for reading and have an amazing day.


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