Sometimes getting paid for your work can be more difficult than actually doing it. Tracking down outstanding payments, asking for money and following up with clients can feel like a cat-and-mouse game at times. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier way to ensure that you receive accurate and timely payments for your various projects?
Sticking to invoicing etiquette can help keep your professional communications productive and fruitful. For example, a client who is impressed by how smooth and pleasant it is to work with you may seek you out for future gigs. On the other hand, responding to invoicing issues harshly may burn bridges and narrow down your pool of contacts in the future.
Here are five tips for following optimal invoicing etiquette.
Set Your Terms Up Front
Let’s put it this way: An invoice shouldn’t hold any surprises for your clients. The bill should be par for the course because both parties established payment and delivery terms much earlier in the process. The precursor to any successful invoicing process is a well-written contract. At the same time, also be sure to have your full company information and branding on your invoices. This will not only look more professional, it will also help with invoicing and payments for both parties.
…And Make Them Specific
What should your contract contain? The more specifics, the better. The Balance recommends including these components to make your contract foolproof:
- A job number for each project (so you can track it over time)
- Job description (explain the scope of work and the deliverables)
- Timeline for completion
- Payment terms (when, how much, what method)
- Space for signatures and dates
You can see a full breakdown of The Balance’s tips for better invoicing below.
Send Timely Invoices
After working hard on a project for a client, you wrap up the last detail and send it along. When should you send an invoice? You can save yourself a headache and a costly delay by invoicing your client immediately. Invoicing on the day of completion (rather than waiting two or more weeks for a new billing cycle) means you’re nearly 1.5 times more likely to get paid, based on research analyzing 250,000 invoices.
Assuming that your client will remember to pay you is a recipe for disaster, as is leaving a gap between when you finish a job and when you send an invoice. Ask for payment when the project is still fresh in everyone’s minds and you’ll get better results.
…And Make Them Accurate
Nothing is more counterproductive than sending an invoice with incorrect information. Or sending it to the wrong client. Or sending a generic invoice that’s missing key identifying information. Remember, your clients (just like you) could be juggling many invoices at once; sending timely and accurate statements is a favor to your clients and to your own workflow.
Online invoicing software can help you uphold professional etiquette and streamline your approach to payments. Remember those numbered contracts from above? Using a cloud-based platform like Due can help you keep track of every project from start to finish. And to top it all off, automatic late payment reminders help you keep the lines of communication open if there’s ever an issue with a deposit.
No matter what type of business services or products you are selling, it’s extremely important to make sure you have control over your outgoing, incoming, paid and due invoices at all times. You can see a preview of what a platform like Due offers for invoice tracking and management in the screenshot below.
When you’re down a few hundred or thousands of dollars in income, it’s frustrating. You know you’re right; you delivered the work on time and held up your end of the bargain. But it’s important to stay polite and professional in your communications with the client. You don’t want an important client relationship to sour because you snapped at them after a single invoice got lost in the shuffle. Stay polite yet firm (and persistent) and you’ll get the resolution you’re seeking.
When it comes to your business, every contract, invoice and email matters. Follow these five tips for productive communications when it comes to invoicing etiquette.