While proper invoice handling practices may not be the most interesting topic ever addressed, it is certainly one of the most important. Proper invoice processing is key to creating a plumper bottom-line for those who get it right from the start.
Invoicing is a fundamental component of every business. It is the reward for your hard work, as well as the last impression you leave with your client. Ensuring that your invoices are professional and complete is critical to your success, which is why this article has gathered together some best practices for online invoicing for your use.
1. Always include a date on your invoice.
It seems pretty straightforward, but many businesses that manually create invoices using Microsoft Word forget to date their invoices. If you use a client billing software or bookkeeping program, the date should be generated automatically.
2. Always address the person, not the company directly.
The address field for an invoice will contain the company name and mailing details, but the invoice itself should directly address the name of the person who approved the purchased. This way the invoice will go to the person that can quickly confirm the charges and approve it for payment.3. Always use a reference or invoice number.
3. Always use a reference or invoice number.
An invoice number is beneficial for tracking invoices, as well tracking your business’s progress. By starting at invoice number one and working your way up, you can celebrate milestones along the way. Invoice numbers will also make it easier to reference which invoices are being paid by a client who has received more than one bill.
4. Always break down each charge with a clear description.
Your clients should always be able to see exactly what they are buying and how much each aspect of its cost. They may need to reference this information later on and there shouldn’t be any doubt about what they purchased when the review the invoice.
5. Always include the due date and terms by the invoice total.
It is your responsibility to provide your client with an easy-to-follow invoice that clearly shows them the amount they need to pay and the day it is due. Keeping those details close together in a clearly defined area (usually the bottom, right-hand corner) will give your client a quick reference point when it comes time to pay the bill.
6. Always include information about payment options near the total amount owing.
Under the invoice total there should be a sentence or two explaining the various payment methods that are accepted. If you give your client’s online or telephone payment options, it could speed up the payment process.
7. Always include a line similar to “we appreciate your business” on the invoice.
Manners count in business. It is usually the simplest things that a business does to show their clients they are appreciated that the clients remember when it comes time to make another purchase.
8. Always email it to the client and request a read receipt.
Eliminate the wait time and uncertainty of traditional mail by sending it directly to your client’s inbox and requesting a read receipt once it has been opened. Most client billing software programs have this capability.
9. Always follow-up with a professional reminder notice before it is due.
There is nothing wrong with sending a professional and friendly reminder that an invoice is almost due. Your clients are just as busy as you and a reminder might move your invoice to an earlier check run.
10. Always send a thank you note once payment is received.
This is the very last chance for you to make a positive and lasting impression on your client. You should thank them for their timely payment, reinforce your previous statement of appreciating their business, and tell them you will be there if they have any further questions or concerns. This polite final touch will remind them of your commitment to customer satisfaction, which will hopefully stick in their minds when it comes time to re-buy.
In reality, the process for small business invoicing doesn’t come so easy (thanks to our beautiful invoicing software). Our online invoicing solution factors in all of the best practices we’ve mentioned above making it the best tool for small businesses looking to do invoicing the right way.