9 Points To Check Before Sending Invoices To Your Clients
We all know the feeling. You hit send on an email, and as it heads off into cyberspace, you immediately notice an error or that you’re missing important information. You want to make a good impression on your clients, and probably even more so when you’re asking for payment. That’s why attention to detail is key.
An invoice is an important document that means the difference between getting paid—and not.
On that note, there are a few key points to remember when preparing and checking your invoice.
Remember that every interaction with a client is an extension of your brand, personal or professional, and an invoice is no different. In fact, it could even be considered an essential digital marketing tool.
We’ve put together a checklist that will come in handy the next time you’re getting ready to hit send.
1. Fact Check First
Make sure that you have confirmation (in writing if possible) of the scope of work required, and the remuneration agreed on for these services. This might seem like an obvious point, but if there’s any uncertainty about how much you’re going to get paid for a job, an invoice can become an awkward way to define those expectations.
You should be able to send an invoice with confidence, knowing that there is a clearly agreed-upon rate. Before you send your first invoice, ensure that you made it clear to your client what you expected in return and that you’ve got the information that backs this up.
2. Think About Your Layout
There’s nothing worse than receiving an invoice and you actually aren’t sure what you’re paying for. The client needs to easily and clearly see what service you have provided, any details pertaining to this, the agreed-upon rate, and the subtotals and totals that make up the invoice amount.
There may be many common errors made in invoicing, but this is one that you can easily avoid. Make your invoice simple and clear and ensure that the layout makes sense. If your layout is cluttered or clumsy a client will struggle to determine what’s owed and this can delay payment.
3. Can You Identify The Invoice?
If you’re dealing with many different clients and invoices, it can become tricky to manage incoming payments and stay on top of admin.
The payment reference or invoice number should be clearly identifiable at a glance. It helps to draw attention to the payment reference in bold print or a similar format to ensure that it stands out.
If you can’t quickly identify the invoice number or reference, you can’t expect your clients to.
4. Does The Invoice Align With Your Brand?
Your business or service offering might not be creative or warrant a fancy invoice. However, there are still details you can add to make it just a little more professional.
Something as simple as a logo or your business name or a ‘thank you for your business’ written as a footer at the bottom of the page goes a long way toward creating a positive impression.
5. Check Your Timing
If you would like to get paid timeously, ensure you know what the dates are for your client’s payment run and accounts department. Is there a deadline by which invoices need to get submitted, and if you miss it, what are the implications?
Submitting your invoice on time not only guarantees your income, but also helps the client with their accounting and cash flow. You want to make it easy for your clients to do business with you.
6. Sending To The Right Person Or Department
Make the effort to check who the correct person is to send invoices to, especially if you’re dealing with a big company. It might seem like a simple task for an employee to just forward an email to the relevant person. But this does become frustrating and your invoice might end up getting lost in transit. Anything you can do to streamline the invoicing process and keep it simple for the client is gold.
Creating an invoice has become an easier process, with many software options available to help you automate the process. If you create your own Excel invoice template, make sure you include all the details your client needs and all the information that allows you to create a record for tax purposes and managing your financial admin.
7. Check, Check, And Check Again
Your time is valuable and a simple error on an invoice could mean that you are underpaid, or not paid at all. Invoices that lack detail, are addressed to the wrong person, or have incorrect information on them are not just a waste of time for you, they waste your client’s time too.
Three is the magic number when it comes to checking details. Read through your invoice at least 3 times to ensure that you’ve included the correct contact information for both parties, all the relevant line items and figures, payment details and accepted payment methods, and tax amounts. Then, check that you’ve done your calculations correctly.
8. Follow Up On Your Invoices
Sometimes service providers hesitate to send an invoice or think that waiting to send it later in the month is more pleasing to the client. We recommend sending the invoice to the client as soon as the job is complete so they can plan for payment.
Another factor here is following up on unpaid invoices and doing this in good time. Most likely, there is a good explanation for a lack of payment. The client will appreciate a prompt follow-up rather than having to pay out larger sums of accumulated funds due at a later stage.
9. Payment Isn’t The End
When payment’s received, it’s a courtesy to acknowledge the payment and send a thank you. Showing gratitude, even if something is owed to you, goes a long way and will create a good impression.
Prioritize a time in the month when you have received most of your payments to send out a communication confirming receipt thereof and express your continued appreciation for the business.
Hopefully, with this checklist, you feel a bit more confident about this area of your business. If you get your invoicing right, you’ll enjoy a steadier cash flow, spend fewer hours on time-consuming admin, and create a professional impression that will keep your clients loyal.