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Business Invoices: How to Create a Professional Invoice
While it may seem like an unnecessary up-front investment of your time, crafting a clean and concise business invoice is a great way to showcase your company’s professionalism to your customers. Also, this will help you to end each job on a high note, and help motivate your customers to recommend your services to their friends and family. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.
The first and most important thing you need to do when crafting your business invoice is to make sure it’s for the right person. The person that you agreed on the project with won’t always be the one who’s paying the invoice, especially if you’re doing work for a large company. This person could be someone in a totally different department.
Be sure to send your invoice on the same day the job is completed, as you’re 1.5x more likely to get paid that day. The length of time for the customer to pay depends on the project, for most work you want payment the same day, for larger projects you may offer financing or 9-30 days to pay.
What to Include in an Invoice
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Customer Contact Information
Be sure to include your customer’s contact information so you can contact them to follow up on work, ask for review or referrals, or remind them of unpaid balance. This should include their personal or company name, your name or the manager/technician’s name, the customer’s phone number, their email address, and the company website.
Your Business’ Contact Information
Payment information should include the total amount due, any past balances, sales tax on items purchased, and any discounts you may have applied to the service.
Remember, the easiest way to get paid fast is to make it as easy as possible for the customer to pay you. You should be able to offer the customer multiple payment options, and set clear expectations about when payment is due and who it should be paid to. You can also offer payment plan options if your main customer base is more price sensitive.
Be sure to include any billing terms, late fees, and processes for declined cards/bounced checks.
Cost Break Down
Your cost breakdown structure will depend on how you charge; hourly, flat rate, lump sum, or detailed pricing. Typically it’s a good idea to itemize details so customers know exactly what they’re being charged, including parts that needed to be purchased, what was fixed, and details about how long you were on site. Simple, transparent pricing goes a long way to build trust and ensure future work
Be specific, as it will help paint a full picture of the work you did and your expertise. For example, instead of saying you cleaned the condenser coil, say it was chemically cleaned because the system was low on charge and not cooling properly. Point out complimentary services you don’t charge for directly – like checking a system’s electrical components.
This is up to you as the business owner, but consider offering discounts in your invoices, like 10% off their next maintenance visit. You can also ask in your invoice for referrals, so the next time someone in your customer’s life asks for a recommendation, you’ll be top of mind. This might be a bit overkill, but you can also include your social platform links, as well as your Angi, Yelp, or Google My Business listing.
Warranties & Guarantees
If you’d like to include warranties or guarantees in your invoice, be sure to specifically state how long you guarantee products or service and the terms, as well as any situations where the client can lose the warranty/guarantee.
Always get your customer’s signature on the payment terms in writing, either on a printed invoice, or through a signature service that’s included in most field service management platforms. Again, make sure that your invoice is addressed to the correct person.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid being too prompt starting the collection cycle – it’s a good idea to give the client a few days to give the appearance of a grace period. But when the cycle does begin, start off with a reminder, then get progressively more firm. Remind your customer of terms of agreement and, if necessary, consequences like legal action.
If you contact the same day, it makes you appear desperate and seems like you have needlessly aggressive policies. Instead offer incentives for paying on time or early, like a discount or credits, for paying on top or several times in a row. In severe cases, you may need to file a lien.
A mechanic’s lien can be filed by all kinds of contractors. In simple terms, it’s a legal claim contractors can put on against property they’ve improved. It can be filed in the county the work took place, but requirements for these liens will vary by state.
From there the lien is answered, and a court date is set. The contractor can then take possession of the improved property if the debt isn’t settled within a certain time frame.
Download Our Payment Reminder Template
To streamline your invoicing process, we’ve included a downloadable pack of 12 free, customizable invoice templates. Simply change your business information and adjust them or make a copy whenever it’s time to invoice a customer.
Then, download the file as a PDF to save it (File > Download as PDF) make sure the following options are marked: export – current sheet, page orientation – portrait, scale – fit to page). Alternatively, you can print the invoice using the same page options. The document will then automatically size to fit the sheet.
Download Our Invoice templates
Utilizing an invoicing software will save you time and money, as well as keep invoicing consistent. Ultimately, this type of software lets you turn your technicians into salesman who can take payments on the spot. Printing invoices and buying invoice templates gets expensive – your business can end up losing money on paper, ink, and lost time.
Utilizing an invoicing software (like FieldPulse) eliminates any manual entry of services and materials, price fluctuations, mathematical errors, and having to look up customer information to complete the invoice as it’s automatically pulled.
It also allows you to take your price list everywhere you go. Invoicing software helps with disputes as well because you have easy access to quotes and can pull them up instantly. You’ll also be able to integrate this service with your accounting software, like Quickbooks, so you can avoid having to re-enter info there.
And just like that, you’ve learned everything you need to know about invoice assembly and contents, as well as the best methods and timeframes to use for distribution.
Throughout this document, we’ve included a few helpful tips and templates that will set you up for success, but if you’re interested in learning more about how to streamline your invoicing process with FieldPulse’s invoicing software, visit our website or schedule a demo for a product walkthrough.
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