The Best Practices of Invoicing

It begins with properly formatting your invoices, but there are plenty of strategies beyond that to use to speed up customer payments

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Good cash flow for your business depends on invoices getting paid at a prompt pace, and there are a number of strategies that can help you make speedy payments more likely.

A big one? Making sure your invoices are formatted properly, which I recently wrote about. By ensuring that each invoice contains the right information — from an itemized breakdown of your services, to an explanation of payment terms, to a simple “thank you” at the end — you can maximize your odds of getting that invoice taken care of in a reasonable timeframe.

And that’s only one aspect of invoicing effectively. Here are some other invoicing best practices:

  • Ask for some money on the front end. For a really big job — one that takes multiple days — you may not want to risk an invoice that goes unpaid. In these scenarios, you might consider asking for a small upfront deposit.
  • Allow for different payment methods. The more ways your clients have to pay, the more likely it is that you’ll get those payments promptly. So if at all possible, offer options for PayPal, Apple Pay, and other digital formats.
  • Send your invoices quickly. This is a simple yet important point. If you want your invoices to be paid quickly, you need to make sure they are sent quickly. Make sure service technicians have the equipment they need to send an invoice before they even leave the job site.
  • Emphasize your payment terms. Simply stating your payment terms out loud — “Your invoice will be due within 10 days” — in a gentle, casual way can help to underscore its urgency. Train your technicians to offer these little nudges to each client.
  • Incentivize early payments. Another approach is to offer some kind of discount or bonus for those who pay quickly. For example, a $20 off coupon or a 2 percent discount for anyone who pays their invoice within the first 48 hours.
  • Penalize late payments. If the carrot doesn’t work, try the stick. Indicate on your invoice that late payments will incur small penalties or additional fees.
  • Send payment reminders. If you allow your clients 30 days to pay their invoice, and you still haven’t received anything by Day 20, that may be a good time to send them a friendly reminder letting them know the full sum is almost overdue.

Get Paid on Time

You can’t force your customers to pay invoices quickly, but neither can you run your business without some positive cash flow. It’s worth the time and effort to review your invoicing strategy and to consider ways in which you can make it easier for your customers to pay you.

Invoice formatting is a big part of it, but so are the actions you take before and after that invoice is created.

About the Author

Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.



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