This can vary greatly from State to State, but I imagine that the basics are about the same. If you have to go to court, you better HAVE THE DETAILS of the deal. I can tell you from experience, the one with the best story and the most details will likely win.
1) Have a signed contract for the work, including as much detail as you can. At the least have a verbal agreement on the work and payment (A witness is great here). I know, many small jobs just don't have contracts and many of us are not licensed, insured, etc. Don't be surprised if someone calls you on this or ask to see your license, insurance, etc.
2) Present the guy a bill showing detailed charges, stating payment by mm/dd, if not immediately.
3) Call and remind him once or twice per week for a reasonable time (a few weeks, note the date, time, response or lack of, details)
4) Send him another bill using the mail, SIGNATURE and RETURN RECEIPT REQUIRED for proof of delivery and receipt (Judges love this).
5) Consider having our lawyer write him a letter.
6) File a suit in Small Claims Court (Max $$ varies) and you show up at the date and time. As you may know, getting a Judgement and getting paid can be very different. Small Claims Court usually has a reasonable fee.
7) Last resort, File a Lien against his property. This will not get your money, but the Lien must be settled before he can sell the property. And the Lien follows the title/deed, so he can't around it and a buyer can't get a clear title/deed either.
Hope you don't have to resort to this. It is difficult (P-I-A), time consuming, and expensive if the lawyer gets involved. And there is no guarantee that you'll get your money.