Your invoice is like a playground. A really boring playground that nobody wants to play on. But still—why not transform it into the most effective, motivating, easy-to-understand playground ever created?
Tweaking your invoice to perfection is well worth your time. Once you’ve found a winning formula, you can use it over and over again. Just keep in mind that positive results from even small improvements will be multiplied by the hundreds, if not thousands, of invoices you’ll send in the future.
Here are five more tips for achieving invoicing glory:
1. Tell your client exactly how to pay you. The key is to make the payment process as easy as possible. If you accept ACH transactions, include the routing information. If you accept credit cards, provide a form to fill out online or a URL. And if you accept checks, clearly state whom the check should be made out to and where to send them.
Oh, and here’s a hint: Give clients the opportunity to pay you electronically. It can mean the difference between receiving payments within 10 days via electronic payment versus an average of 27 days through other methods.
2. Set up a numbering system that actually makes sense. Maybe your invoices are numbered by date. Or maybe you use an alphanumeric code that includes the name of the project or client. Whatever works best for you, stick with a consistent and chronological system. That way, you can reference a specific invoice whenever you follow up, and your customer should be able to track it down quickly.
3. Map the path to payment. What’s the path to payment, you ask? Essentially, the path to payment is knowing where your invoices end up, rather than just knowing who you sent them to. Chances are your clients’ invoices are being forwarded, and then forwarded again, and again, until they end up on the desk of some guy named Lonnie. Don’t be shy—become friends with Lonnie. “Like” a few of his Facebook photos. Follow him on Twitter. Then start sending your invoices to Lonnie’s attention. Mapping the path to payment means knowing exactly whom to contact if the path to payment becomes obstructed.
4. Get specific about the due date. It’s pretty common to list only the payment terms and not the actual due date on an invoice. The problem with doing that, of course, is that when somebody in accounting looks at your invoice a week later, it might be hard for him or her to remember exactly how long it’s been since the invoice arrived. Help your customers. Be specific. List your terms and the actual day that payment is due. “Payment is due 15 days from the date of this invoice. Please pay by December 12, 2013.” Clients have a funny way of losing track of time. Give them definite dates to work with.
5. Use the word “days” rather than “net.” Using the word “days” (rather than “net”) will get you paid faster. While many business owners know what “Net 21” means, customers who aren’t so business savvy may not understand. By stating the terms in days, you’ll make the deadline clear for everyone.
So there you go. Now go and enjoy fixing up your ugly, old, boring invoicing playground and turning it into something that really works. And if you have any brilliant invoicing tips of your own, share them below!
Interested in more invoice tips? Check out the first two parts in this series: Invoice Design: 4 Small Tweaks that Will Get You Paid and 4 (More) Simple Changes to Your Invoice Design That Can Get You Paid Faster