How Invoice Format Plays Into Prompt Customer Payments

Getting paid quickly for your work can boil down to something as simple as the way you present the invoice to the customer. Here’s a list of items you’ll want to consider the next time you’re making out an invoice.

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To maintain a healthy cash flow in your business, it’s important to get client invoices paid on time — the sooner the better, in fact. But this can be more challenging than you might imagine. Any given client may have multiple invoices piled up and the means to pay only a few at a time. So the question is how can you make your invoice a top priority?

There are a lot of factors to consider, starting with the formatting of your invoice. What should each invoice include in order to up the odds of prompt payment? Here’s a breakdown of a few key elements.

Your Details

At the top of your invoice, include your company contact information as well as your logo, if you have one. Including the logo not only increases brand visibility, but it adds a sense of professionalism to your invoice, which can help it rise above more amateur-looking invoices.

Payment Terms

It’s also important to specify when the payment is due. In most industries, 30 days is the standard, but one helpful strategy is to include a slightly more unusual number. For example, asking for payment within 21 days is highly specific. It immediately stands out in the client’s mind and lets them know you mean business.

An alternative: Some invoices will offer early payment discounts. For example, you can ask for payment within 30 days, but offer 10 percent off to anyone who pays in 15.

One more thing: It’s generally ill-advised to say “payment due upon receipt.” For most customers, this translates to “payment due whenever you feel like it.” Going with a more specific timeframe is always preferable.

Client Details

You’ll want to specify who it is that you’re billing. If you’re invoicing a corporation, try to include the name of a specific point person. For instance, you might bill to Matt’s Hardware Store, ATTN: Matt Johnson. This increases the ease with which your invoice makes it to the right person.

Service Descriptions

It’s best to include a brief description of what you’re invoicing for, even if it is only a sentence or so for each service you performed. This helps allay any questions or concerns about overbilling and can mitigate the need for a follow-up call. Meanwhile, if you simply charge $500 and list it as “plumbing services,” you might expect the client to call you and ask for a more detailed explanation. That simply delays the payment.

An Invoice Number

Both for your own record-keeping and for ease of communication between you and your customers — especially those for whom you do regular work — an invoice number is helpful.

Penalties

Consider adding a line or two about penalties or fees for late payments. That instills a greater sense of urgency.

A Personal Note

Take the time to offer a quick, friendly note. Studies show that invoices that say “please” and “thank you” get paid more quickly than those that do not.

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to format your invoices in a clear, professional way — and in a way that improves your odds of receiving prompt payments.

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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