I run a small digital production agency where we produce digital content for a number of brands. The company has only been going for about a year and we don't really have any formal agreements in place with our clients, other than those given in the briefs (all case-by-case as there are no retainers). I hire freelancers for all projects on 30-day payment terms so cash-flow management is key.
Our typical project procedure is this: 1) Brief comes in, 2) Project details are agreed with client along with timeline and budget, 3) Production commences with feedback rounds in place to ensure delivery is on spec, 4) We deliver the final product for sign-off, 5) Product is signed off and we invoice, 6) 30 days later we get paid.
Whilst this has worked well for the majority of projects, we have one client in particular (a major global brand which I don't want to lose as they make up 80% of our revenues) who regularly exceed the deadline in the original brief, making cash-flow a nightmare. Thus what is originally scheduled as a project lasting 1-month can turn into a 4-month project with no payment coming in until the end. As we are only paid at the end of the project following final delivery and sign-off ("Company policy" apparently) this can put a real strain on cash-flow, not to mention the opportunity costs of taking our efforts and attentions away from other projects.
Having not worked in an agency before - let alone ran one - I was wondering if there are any standard procedures for projects of this kind, both in terms of managing timeline and delivery. Both myself and the team of freelancers I hire have spent the past year bending over backwards to keep clients happy but we now need to put some structure in place that prevents us from having to wait weeks on end for feedback to come in so we can move the project forward and get it closer to sign-off and cash in.
If anyone with any experience at running an agency can advise on the above it would be much appreciated.