Best Practices for a Daily Invoice Sender

If you have any reason to send invoices, chances are that you want to spend more time making money than tracking it down. After all, the work you do is probably way more fun than the accounting side of your business. But invoicing is a necessity to many a business, and I’ve got some best practices for getting it done in style.

1. Find an online invoicing service.

It doesn’t just save you time, it helps you automatically organize every invoice you are sending (I use Blinksale, one of the first invoicing web applications). Most of all, it’s just nice to not have to worry about extra papers or not being organized.

2. Make sure you include every detail of your business and their business in the invoice.

With small companies, it’s not a big deal to figure out who the invoice should specifically go to, but in a company of 500+, you definitely need to have the person responsible for your project clearly designated and in the invoicing loop.

Getting in touch with you should be one of the easiest things your client should have to do. Make sure you always include phone and e-mail, as those are the two most common methods of contact (but nowadays, even a Facebook or Twitter link wouldn’t hurt).

You also want to always cover yourself from a legal perspective. If, for some reason, you have trouble getting paid, having all of the information (contact info, dates, etc) on a document is invaluable to make sure you do get the payment resolved. The more information on it, the better (Blinksale allows commenting on invoices and keeps a record of all sorts of actions taken on the invoice).

In addition to keeping track of it by including detailed contact info, it is important to use some type of numbering system to keep them in order and be able to reference something immediately.

3. List your services.

People want to know exactly what they are getting, because — like your money — their money is valuable, and no one wants to blindly hand over any amount of cash.

How many days will it take you? Will you deliver the product after or before the invoice is paid? Are you including more than one project for the same client on one invoice?

Be specific so that when your client checks out this invoice in 5-10 years, they will remember the services you provided, and then remember what a great job you did, and call you again for another large-scale project that will cover all of your living expenses for that year. (Ok, maybe that is too good to be true, but you get the point…be specific.)

4. Set Your Policy, Terms and INCLUDE them

A tip that will make your invoicing easy is for you to be clear and make sure there are no surprises. It is always good to have policies in place before you start working with a client. There will be some exceptions to these policies, but better to have some in place than to not have any.

Make sure that you mention the due date as well. An invoice without a due date is hard to track down payment for. Plus, if there is a late fee, clients need to know when an invoice is late, thus costing them extra moola.

5. Estimate it for them

Estimates are a great tool, and really lets the client see what they are getting before singing of on the project. Project approval pre-project is key and helps them feel a little more control. This makes the invoicing process a lot smoother because the client already knows what it should cost.

6. Make sure your client knows how you want to be paid

Some clients accept payment in any form, others are very specific. This is the time to be clear with your client how you want to be paid. Hopefully by this time you will have already discussed it to some extent have come to an agreement on what will work best for both parties.

However you want to get paid, make sure you provide all necessary information for that to happen. Get your client any checking account info, PayPal addresses, mailing addresses or anything else they need to deliver payment.

7. Be Polite and Kind

Money can be a hard subject for people to deal with, so make sure to put your best polite-sounding voice on! Use language that you would use in normal conversation while keeping it fresh and professional.

8. Make it nice!

A nice looking invoice means you care about the little things. There are few things that impress a client more than holding an impressive, clear and concise invoice to help direct them in paying you for the work that they are happy for.

Remember, this is often the last point of contact with your client…make it memorable. To do this make sure you customize it as much as you can. (How convenient that Blinksale makes customizing your invoices incredibly easily!)

And, when you send it, make sure you attach a copy of a PDF (these come free with all paid Blinksale plans). It is easy for people to save on their computers and file it away.

9. If no payment has been received…

Remind them! Everyone has to-do lists and a million things coming at them. Sending a friendly reminder (also available with Blinksale) or a notice letting them know that they may incur a late fee won’t hurt their feelings. Actually, they’ll probably appreciate it!

I hope you find this useful. These tips have been gathered over the course of my own invoicing experiences, so some may not apply to your specific situation. But any way you look at it, you and I do have one very significant thing in common: we both love getting paid. These tips will help that process go smoothly.

Patrick Dodd, a self-proclaimed invoicing ninja, is the marketing and partnerships guy at Blinksale. He likes to write songs. Not about invoicing. Feel free to e-mail him at patrick at blinksale dot com or connect with him on Twitter at @blinksalepd.