How do you guys make sure you get paid?

Dar Scott dsc at
Fri Feb 18 19:20:38 EST 2005

On Feb 18, 2005, at 7:58 AM, Lynch, Jonathan wrote:

> Also, how do you ensure that they do not change their mind and decide
> they don't want it at the last minute, after you have put great work
> into it?

At one time I was big on formal contracts.  Then I took to heart what a 
customer once said to me.  You do what you need to do to keep customers 
giving you money and they do what they need to do to keep you making 
cool stuff for them.  I would do big proposals, too, (long ago) until I 
realized some folks were using me as their R&D and giving the work 

I sometimes do things in two phases, an hourly spec phase and a fixed 
price latter phase.  That way a bulk is in the hourly part with a short 
bill-pay cycle.  I sometimes make sure I own something if pay is 

For hourly contracts I often ask for a good-faith exchange in the first 
billing cycle; a short amount of work with very short terms.

I have been burned, sometimes badly.  Watch out for a customer who has 
to deliver something and has realized one part was greatly 
underestimated--and that's the part your customer wants you to do.  
Watch out for the customer who lavishes praises, isn't concerned about 
money and wants all kinds of things done the first week or two, often 
with a high familiarization ramp-up.

However, my approach is to take each customer at face value.  I might 
get burned, but I jump right in and assume the best.  Sometimes in 
being free with directions a project might go, I end up talking a 
customer out of the project or making him realize he can do it himself. 
  Those customers often come back.

I take payments via paypal now, so customers can use a card.

Though I don't get too formal with contracts any more, I do think it is 
very important that both sides know when they have done right.

A third of my revenues over the past couple years has been for 
Revolution related work (mostly libraries, some test systems, some 
externals).  The vast majority of that is for folks I know only through 
these lists.  In only one case did that turn sour.  I saw the warning 
signs, but decided I wanted to take the risk in that particular case.  
I have moved on.

I hope that my rambling helps.


     DSC (Dar Scott Consulting & Dar's Lab)
     Programming Services and Software

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