An invoice is nothing more than an itemized bill showing a list of goods or services provided, with a statement of the sum due. Your bills should be specific, accurate, and clear. After going over some best practices for creating bills, let’s look at software solutions.
1. Give Details
Along with the client’s address, be sure to include the name of the client contact who processes your account. In larger companies, bills can get misplaced, especially if there’s any confusion involved.
Always include your company name, address, and the name, contact phone number, and email address of the person issuing the bill, or customer help line if you have one. In the event customers have any questions about the charges, getting answers should be easy.
2. Itemized Services
The majority of clients won’t just pay off vague charges listed under something like “Development.” State exactly what was provided: “Development and testing of mobile app for Household Appliance discounts.” Be as specific as you can. Also, indicate the cost structure, such as project-based quotes or hourly rates.
3. Include Payment Terms
When do you expect to be paid? What happens if the client misses that deadline? To cover your tracks legally, or justify charging interest, your invoicing should provide a systematic and clearly defined paper trail in case of non-payment and legal hassles.
4. Let Them Know How to Pay
Be explicitly clear about what forms of payment are permissible; for instance, money transfers, bank drafts, or approved credit cards, but NOT personal checks or cash. It’s important to make this clear upfront before work even begins.
If you expect money transfers, provide the necessary information. In some localities, you need an International Bank Account Number or Bank Identifier Code. International transfers tend to double-charge: a foreign bank might charge $10, and your own bank might charge another $12 to accept the transfer. Make it clear who is expected to pay these charges.
5. Numbers and Records
Statements should be numbered systematically and chronologically. Some companies might use the date (for example, 20141013012 would be October 13, 2014, bill #12). You could also specify a code for individual projects or clients. For example, EZDRAIN016 would be the 16th billing statement for the EZ-DRAIN marketing campaign that you handled. A consistent and ordered numbering approach is much easier to track for you and your client.
6. Thank Them and Ask for Feedback
Courtesy in money issues is always a best practice. Your clients are paying you with money that they’ve earned through their own hard work, so let them know you appreciate it. Invite them to contact you with any questions, and make it clear you welcome their repeat business.
You can always make use of positive feedback and customer testimonials in your own marketing. By adding something like: “Let us know why you enjoyed working with us, and what we can do to make things easier. Please take a minute to visit firstname.lastname@example.org.” This is a good way to get feedback on how customers felt while dealing with your company. If they can suggest ways of making your procedures better, you can always use it to evaluate and improve your invoicing process.
Invoice software can make small business invoicing much easier. And you don’t have to buy or license expensive software to do it. Online services like FreshBooks provide the same functions on a convenient web platform. They make creating and using professional bills an automated process that will both save time for your business and impress clients.
FreshBooks allows you to design you bill by simply picking a template, uploading your logo, and supplying any personal notes or information you want your customers to see. You can automate the whole process or any part of it. You can generate and send bills in several ways, and automate following up with slow-to-pay customers.
Billing with FreshBooks
From your FreshBooks account, you can create a specific Client to send bills to separately, or create the Client from within a new bill.
To create a new bill, just log in to your account, open the “Invoices” tab, and click on the “New” option.
From the template you can select an existing Client or choose the “new Client” options. You can enter the necessary information to create and save a new Client that isn’t already in your account.
For each bill, you have the option of adding a PO Number, changing the provided statement number, setting the Date of Issue to another day, or selecting payment methods from a list found under “Accept Online Payments”
You can then add line items from the Items list of charges you’ve already created, or create new elements by clicking the “+New Item” option. For instance, you can automatically add a “Hazardous Material Disposal Fee” line item with a single click, if that’s part of your services.
You can add your payment terms or click on “Set Default Terms” to add preset terms to any future bills. Click on the “Notes Visible to Client” field and type in any message to the client, such as a personalized “thank you” or request for feedback.
Now you can choose an option for sending the bill. Select “Save as Draft” if there will be additional changes/additions, “Send by Email” so the bill goes directly to the client’s inbox, or “Send by Snail Mail”. Choosing this last option means FreshBooks will print up and mail a copy of the bill to your client using their own mailing service.
Every billing notice you complete and send will be marked with a “Sent” status which you can see when you pull it up in the Invoices tab.
That’s all there is to creating and sending professional, customized bills with a service like FreshBooks.
Using invoice software to send out charge statements that are thorough, accurate, and professional increases the odds that your customers will pay on time, without fuss. All you do is focus on making money.