When it comes to invoicing, there are some common rules of etiquette that will hold true if a contract is not signed in advance to ensure that expectations of payment and acceptable methods will be followed. For example, it is most frequently observed that payment is to be made immediately after services have been provided. In other words, once services are rendered, an invoice is sent or provided to the client and either full or partial payment can be made based on the prior agreement between parties.
An invoice could be sent by email or snail mail, depending on the customer’s preference, though both are legally acceptable forms of notification of payment due. It is customary to send one within 30 days of services rendered and every 30 days thereafter until the debt is settled unless otherwise prearranged with a client. There are many kinds of invoice templates available online to be used or you can custom make one on your computer.
Make It Timely
Sending an invoice in a timely manner is important to make sure you keep your accounts receivable up to date and not in default. The last thing you want to do is write off a debt as bad since that decreases your net worth overall. Having a set schedule for sending regular invoices either monthly or quarterly is not only recommended, it is essential to providing the kind of security you need when you run a business. Timely invoicing is one of the top priorities when it comes to accounting in any business.
Send It Regularly
As they say, the squeaky door gets oiled, so sending regular invoices yields better results than sending haphazard or intermittent invoices. If an account gets behind, you may have to increase the tone of the request to be firmer, but it is always important to be kind and understanding when it comes to late payments. You can’t possibly know what kind of emergency or situation a customer might be in when a payment is not received on time. Assume the best and be prepared for the worst if you can afford to.
Include All The Info
When preparing it, an invoice should always include important and pertinent information such as creation date, due date, and a place to list the recipient’s names and mailing addresses and/or email addresses/websites. It should show the kind of service or product, the amount of money or cost for it, any taxes or fees, and the total amount of the current payment due.
Double Check For Accuracy
Errors on any of your invoices will cost you time, money, and reputation. When it comes to money, people need to be able to trust you completely. Accuracy is one of the key ways to instill trust in your clients. Always go over your books and invoices to ensure that payments are listed and correct balances are updated.
Send Smaller Invoices or Reminders of Payment Invoices to Come
You can always encourage smaller more frequent payments every other week with options for discounts. If it helps a customer to split up balances into more achievable portions and it can help them pay on time, be flexible with making a plan that works for them. Sending a reminder that a payment is coming will help too if someone is forgetful and needs a few days to transfer money to a personal checking account and such. Sometimes a text message or email reminder a few days before the due date does the trick.
Make It Easy To Pay
It might also show any payment from the last 30 days and the overall total balance. An invoice would likely show any late fee, the interest rate for fees, and a list of the types or forms of payment acceptable and easy methods to do that. Including many easy options for making payments is the best way to increase the chance of timely payment. Auto-debit sign up, PayPal, credit card, mail-in check, or Venmo are just some of the choices that are relatively inexpensive or free to use. Just make sure the choices are numerous and easy to make happen.
Get Rid Of Jargon and Be Clear
You’ve seen it on invoices before Net 30, Net 60, etc. The trouble is that so many people do not know what it means. Just state “due upon receipt” or state what date payment is due or state something like “payment is due within 30 days”. It goes without saying that you should have a contract already signed with the agreement, an understanding of the expectations of payment terms, and such. Explain every charge and every line item as well so that it is clear what each and every cost of for. Be clear about services and the amount of cost per hour or cost for an item.
Make An Offer
Offering a client a 1-5% incentive to pay early can give them the motivation to pay within 15 days instead of the usual 30 days. This is perfect for smaller amounts where getting a deal and paying quickly to get a few bucks off pays off for the client. It is a balance. The larger the amount of the invoice, the more a 5% can hurt your bottom line so in those cases you may want to go with the lower percent incentive. If your customer tends to like the discounts, you can cut the time you wait for payment in half by using this technique as an offer on the first invoice you send.
Ask For A Deposit
It is not at all unreasonable to ask for a deposit for something that is costly, time-consuming to do or make, or for a client that has a history of paying late. Anything that motivates them to pay when the product or service is rendered can help. Usually, 10-20% is a good amount though it is not uncommon to ask for up to 50% deposit for high-end or non-refundable items. This is especially customary if you intend on having out-of-pocket expenses such as labor, travel, or materials.
Enforce Late Fees When Appropriate
There is controversy over whether late fees ultimately harm the provider by placing a strain or by damaging the client relationship in some way. There is a case to be made for only enforcing late fees for those that blatantly disregard your notices being sent and repeatedly pay late out of habit rather than from lack of resources or unfortunate circumstances. Only you can decide based on your access to resources whether you can afford to waive late fees indefinitely or if you have to enforce them as a deterrent to delinquency.
Automate the Process
Working with an invoice printing and mailing specialist is one of the best ways to ensure that your clients receive the highest quality printing, the fastest mailing, and the most reliable delivery of their invoices every time. Our state-of-the-art equipment and automated process allow us to give 5-star services and the most superior printing quality. With over 20 years of experience providing only the best invoice printing and mailing in the industry, Towne Mailer is your trusted partner in pristine documents for all your client statement, invoice, and bill printing needs.
Give us a call for a free quote on your next invoice printing and mailing project. Located in Missoula, MT, our talented team of printing and mailing specialists can take any document and have it ready for review in no time. For the fastest, most efficient, affordable, and expert printing and mailing services in the industry, reach out to us at Towne Mailer.