Sometimes, no matter how quickly you get your invoice out to your client or how much detail is included on it, they still do not pay on time. Here are a few tips to help you accomplish just that:
Obviously, for some services this won’t be an option, but for larger jobs and projects, sending smaller invoices at more regular intervals can aid your client in paying when the invoice is due (rather than them struggling to pay a very large invoice at the end). For instance, it is always easier to pay a few hundred pounds rather than a few thousand. Making it clear to your client from the beginning how and when invoices will be due. Whether it will be at monthly intervals for the percentage of work complete, at certain milestones of the project or when a certain percentage of work has been completed will mean the client is fully aware and expecting your invoice.
If possible, always customise an invoice template to your business brand, (your theme and colours). This will make it instantly more recognisable that it from your company, while reinforcing your brand with your client. Ensure that all the correct details (such as your business and bank account details) are included on your invoice and any client reference numbers or purchase order numbers are clearly visible. You want to make it as easy as possible for your client to read and understand what this invoice relates to, and in turn pay it If you use accounting software, such as Xero, make sure you tailor the templates for your quotes to have a continued professional look (no matter how small a business you are!). Again, this will help build your brand with the potential client, so that if you win the work, when it is time to invoice them, they will recognise who the invoice is from.
Even for small projects, you should ensure that you have signed/agreed terms in place to cover the services you are providing, whether this is a standard set of terms and conditions attached to your quote, or a separately executed contract with your client. Having this in place before any services begin or products produced/delivered forces both sides to start on the same page; not only that, it protects both you and your client.
As obvious as this sounds, establishing and strengthening a working relationship with your point of contact and/or account team can increase your chances of being paid on time. If you need to chase for an invoice, personalising your email/call can help stop your reminder disappearing into their inbox! Lots of accounting programs allow you to send statements to your clients as often as you want, also allowing you to tailor each one as you need to — make use of this! This can avoid what is often referred to as ‘bill shock’ in some industries when customers receive a large bill they were not expecting. It will also help iron out issues earlier on while they are still small and manageable, protecting both you and your client.
Despite the need to remain polite and courteous, standing your ground and keeping consistent needs do take high priority when it comes to your invoicing. Stick to the terms and conditions of your contract and don’t be too lenient when it comes to payment terms! Additionally, you want to make it a policy that you will not continue with a project until you receive payment for your previous work (make sure that this cannot cause you any liability issues under the contract with them); while this can be difficult to put into action, if you are consistent in this approach, clients are less likely to hold off on payment.
Follow up on overdue invoices regularly (a quick phone call or email), even sending a statement or reminder a few days before the invoice is due. This can help confirm whether they have started processing your invoice or even received it. Make it a standard practice to automatically send an overdue statement the day after its due date and continue to do so every few days or on a weekly basis until it is paid.
For some industries, giving your clients a discount off their invoice for early payment can be a great incentive! Even a small percentage or amount, such as 2% if the invoice is paid within 7 days, can be a big motivation to pay the invoice as soon as possible. If you offer a discount, you should always ensure that your costs are covered. You could do this by only offering it on the services you provide rather than on any goods you might be reselling.
Throughout your project/services, you should be in constant communication with your client and keep them abreast of your progress. This also gives you ample opportunities to strengthen your relationship and add in little payment reminders as and when you can. This can keep you and your invoice at the forefront of their minds.
If you are able, set up a variety of payment options to make it easier for your clients to pay. This may mean setting up services like PayPal, Stripe, GoCardless or bespoke integrated applications to your accounting software. By accepting multiple payment methods, such as cheques, credit cards, bank transfers as well as online payments, you’re making it easier for your clients to pay you, improving your cash flow by getting paid faster, decreasing the time spent chasing overdue invoices and minimising the risk and likelihood of having to write of bad debts
Some invoicing software can enable you to set up subscriptions or recurring payments which automatically bill your clients and collect payments via standing order or direct debit. It’s can be a great option if your business relies on memberships, subscription fees, or recurring dues. Setting a subscription service takes away the need of creating and sending monthly invoices, as well as ensuring that you get paid the same time every month.