What You Need to Know About Making, Sending (and Chasing) Invoices

You’ve heard it a thousand times. The lifeblood of small businesses is cash flow. And that’s why getting up to speed on making invoices is important. They’re all about making sure you get paid.

But invoices can take a while to get used to, especially if you’re new to preparing them and sending them out. So we’ve asked business owners who have been around the block a few times to give us their tips, tricks, and best practices for invoicing.

In this article, you’ll learn:

You can skip the steps and see some commonly encountered issues invoicing. snail mail versus email invoicingWhat is the best way to do it? Faster paymentHow to? Late paying customers can be handled

Let’s start with the basics.  

 

The right credit card processor

How to find, compare and choose the best credit card processors for your retail store

How to add an invoice 

It should be as simple as possible for your customers to pay. If you’re taking payment from online banking, include bank account details. If you’re using services such as PayPal, make sure to include a link so that customers can pay with just one click. Your ability to get paid quickly will depend on how clear and firm you are with your payment terms.

Information for AR and AP Teams

Including the following information will help both your accounts receivable (AR) processes and your client or customers’ accounts payable (AP) processes:  

  • Number of the invoice
  • Your business’s name
  • The client or customer’s name
  • The client or customer’s address
  • Your business’s address
  • Date on the invoice
  • Date payment due
  • Description of goods
  • Menges of goods
  • Sales tax payable
  • Total amount payable

Your ability to pay quickly will be affected by how clear and firm you set your terms of payment. Make sure that every invoice includes a standard explanation. 

 

Instructions for sending an invoice

You have many choices when it comes time to send your invoice. 

Send SMS or email

“Sending an invoice via email is still the easiest method for 2022,” believes Jake Smith, owner and managing director of Absolute RegA supplier of vehicle plates in the United Kingdom. “It is better than the traditional paper copy because sending an email only takes a few minutes to reach its recipient. It also prevents the invoice from any physical damage or potential loss because customers can quickly look up the invoice in their inbox every time they need it.”

You know all too well that everyone gets quite a bit of email. Stephen Light, CMO for Nolah Mattress, said this means some invoices can get ‘lost in the shuffle.’ 

“With email invoicing, you have to Be very careful with the subject matter, which isn’t an issue over text. With both of these digital methods, there’s the major con that customers who prefer to be offline won’t be reached,” he said. 

Software for invoicing

Quickbooks and Xero are two examples of accounting software that can be used to automate your processes. 

“SMBs and Retailers should use secure, widely available, easy to operate and affordable invoicing software to prepare and send invoices to their customers in 2022,” said Patrick Crane, the founder and CEO of Sew for LoveThe company has more than 300,000. Keep in mind, however that clients and customers might not like the software that you offer or may prefer something else. 

Tip: Choose an invoicing software that creates aesthetic, itemized and simple to understand invoices so that the recipient isn’t put off by the payment request when you send it over.

A payment provider

“Your payment provider will have access to the right software to allow you to take payments through invoicing,” said Kristin Uptain, marketing manager of Redde Payments. “Invoicing through your payment provider is the best way to send invoices as they can generally give you better pricing and offers.” She said payment providers are often able to send small businesses detailed reporting of trends, customer data and inventory management too. 

By post

It is possible that you will need to provide a printed option and an emailed option for customers.

“A posted invoice may look more professional than an emailed one but there will be costs involved in printing and sending the invoice. James Crawford, cofounder of Ecommerce platform, Offer Dropped

Tip: Take into account both the environmental and postal costs of sending snail mail invoices.  

 

What to say to customers regarding invoices 

The hard part is sending your invoices out and preparing them. 

It doesn’t guarantee you will get paid on time.

Don’t worry though, there are many things you can do to speed up cash flow and encourage more stable payments.  

Clearly explain payment terms

Business owners should explain their payment conditions explicitly, before accepting a customer’s order. Be clear with customers about payment terms, including the deadline and process. Also explain what happens if payments are not received by due date. You can also include late payment penalties.

Offer different payment methods

Paying in different ways is something that people like. David Bitton is co-founder of and CMO at Bitton. DoorLoopThe property management software used in the PropTech market is. “Give your customers a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, bank transfers, online payments and debit cards,” he said. 

Tip: Take into account offering buy now, pay later (BNPL)Customers agree to make monthly payments after making a down payment (typically 25%). 

Be aware of any payments difficulties

Make contact with clients as soon as possible after they’ve missed a payment, whether it’s by phone call or letter. “Establish what has caused them to miss their payment,” said Austin Dowse, CEO of AimveinOnline shop selling medical supplies and equipment. “Perhaps they’ve had issues with the amount owing, or they’re trying to sort out their finances with other creditors.”

Respond promptly

“If customers need support with their purchase, the last thing you want to do is leave them hanging,” said Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire

“If you’re slow with your responses, you might find it increasingly challenging to secure the payment. If you’re not responsive enough, the line of communication might go cold. This could mean having to send follow-up emails and calls for months to no avail, which is not good for your time management or cash flow,” he said. 

Consider the customer’s track record

Try to understand your client’s financial status and credit history, suggests Mike Chappell, co-founder and COO of FormsPalThe company offers online forms for legal issues. “When dealing with customers who have a history of timely payments, don’t bother sending follow-up emails. Customers that care about their reputation will be more likely to pay you on time if you can be patient,” he said.

Learn when you should cut your losses

“Every invoicing headache revolves around a central question: Is the payment worth it?” said Zachary Hoffman, CEO of Digital PR. “You can win payment from a client simply by threat of going to small claims court. You have to decide if the client is willing to pay for legal fees.

“Then there’s the image problem,” he said. “A client you effectively have to sue to get payment isn’t going to work with you anymore—would it just be easier to cut losses? If the end result is the same, you need to look at your bottom line.” 

 

What a POS is capable of doing

But what if you’re a business that sells goods and services? A business that sells goods and services on-the-spot, but doesn’t need invoices. Your retail POS is able to do a lot. Take this example:

  • Small Biz Sense allows companies to send, track, and create invoices via our POS
  • The accounting integration service can also link to your POS system and accounting software. 
  • You can synchronize bookkeeping data between these two organizations using this link

You can use your POS to help win new business and increase cash flow. Your POS allows you to send out quotations, convert them into invoicing, and then send the invoices along with a short message, email and payment link, as well as a text message. 

 

Growing your business by being good enough with invoices

Whether you’re brand new to invoicing or just looking to update your payment processes, it always helps to keep up top speed with the latest tools and tricks for getting your business paid. Pay late payers with cool heads. Be consistent with sound payment methods. Automate tedious tasks with software. And soon you’ll conquer your invoicing challenges with ease. One of our specialists can assist you with Small Biz Sense.

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Cyndy Lane