A Question for the Masses Regarding Payment Options

I seem to have a difficult time getting the Realtors I shoot for to pay in a timely manner.  Some pay right away, some take weeks, others...months.  I hear things like "I never got your invoice," "the check has been in my purse for weeks," or "didn't I pay you?"

I still carry a real estate license and have a "box" at the brokerage I worked at for years.  A lot of those agents are loyal to me but prefer to just leave a check in my box...when they get around to it.  The problem with that is the checks get left in the wrong box, an agent will pick up my mail by mistake and fail to return it to me, or they say they left a check, but never did.  No really, it happens!   I went to the office yesterday to pick up checks from 4 agents.  Only one had actually left a check in my box. One had placed my check in someone else's box, the other two apparently lied to me last week when they said they left payment.

I carry an MLS keypad, and agents love that they don't have to be present for the photo shoots.  Invoicing is a necessity.  I use Quickbooks for my accounting.  I used to send an invoice and an electronic payment request via Paypal through Quickbooks as soon as I posted the tour and emailed their MLS images.  No one likes to pay electronically; they have to write those checks!  And, they have to leave them in my box so that I have to drive up to the office and get them.  Ugh!

After spending weeks chasing a few agents that were eluding payment (agents I no longer shoot for) I decided that's it, no payment - no tour, no images.  Instead of releasing the tour and images, I release an invoice and my electronic request for payment.  When I receive confirmation that payment has been received (instant) I release the goods.  Don't want to pay online?  Fine.  Come to the shoot and pay me then.  Some could care less.  Others were miffed about this. Guess what?  They're also the same ones who don't pay in timely fashion and they're also the ones who didn't feel when I announced this change that it applied to them.

How does everyone else handle this?  I guess my mindset is that I don't want to finance these agents' tours until the house sells.  You hired me, I did my job and made your listing look beautiful, now pay me.  If you're not going to pay in a timely manner then everyone pays before they get the product.  

Am I off base here?  

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I started using ShootProof as my website and delivery system.  I created a download code in the shopping card for clients - they can view their photos, but cannot download until I recieve payment!  Solved that problem real fast!  :)  The email they recieve after payment I send directly from shootproof with simple instruction on checking out with their photos.  I get an email to confirm.  I also set the sizes of the photos for download, so now they can get the mls sized, and also get the print/ad sized photos if they like (or if they paid for it).  I keep the photos there for one year.

That's a great idea. We actually know the folks at ShootProof very well. It's a great product and a great team.

We do have plans to incorporate a similar paywall directly into TourBuzz as we understand this is an important operational problem.

It is - and i've gotten very strict with it - corporate clients were the worst!  At least this way they can pre-pay before the shoot if they can't be there.  The thing that bugs me about shootproof though, is that I have clients on there grouped by name, which is called gallery - I was excited when I saw clients could just download the photos with a code.  I soon realized it downloads every album in the entire gallery in large resolution Frustrating!  So I had to create a checkout code for prepaied clients - again very annoying. But, it works for now!

A smarter idea, for architectural photographers, would be to allow clients to download just an album in the gallery, using their access code, which we could supply to them after payment. If you could do that, it would be awesome!

 Going through the checkout process is annoying for some of my more high maintenance clients, but I actually did a training sheet for them.  Thankfully, I'm an IT girl and design explicit instructions complete with pictures and screenshots!

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