Let’s go back to basics. The first most important step to getting paid on time is to make sure you are invoicing correctly. This will both reduce the amount of time you spend on credit control, but also increase your cash flow.
Here, we have broken the process down into three steps and given our top tips on each area.
Step 1: Raising an Invoice
1. Use a clear invoice template, so that the vital information stands out.
If you use accounts software, then you will already have access to a choice of templates. If you are raising an invoice manually then its worth seeking out a template that suits you and sticking with it. We found some examples here at templates.office.com that may be useful – although play around, and personalise them.
2. Make your charges clear
You want the recipient of the invoice to be clear on what you are charging for and how you have come to the charges. If your client gave you a PO, include the PO number. If you were given a brief, then think about attaching a copy. You don’t want your client to delay payment because they are querying the charges.
3. Include your payment details
You want to make it as easy as possible for your client to pay your bill, so include your bank details on every invoice.
Think back to when you have had to pay invoices; have you ever gone to pay something, didn’t know the bank information, so put it to one side to ‘pay later’? Don’t let your invoice be one of those!
Step 2: Issuing an Invoice
1. Have you checked who and where the invoice should be sent to?
If you are working with a larger client, they may have an accounts office or an offsite bookkeeper that received all invoices. Also, are they happy to have the invoice emailed?
Find these things out in plenty of time before you raise your invoice, so that they don’t hold up payment. I recommend that you include these type of questions in your engagement letter or quote.
2. When do you want it paid?
Make sure your payment terms and due date are laid out clearly in your invoice. Always agree your payment terms from the outset by including them in the T&Cs, engagement letter and quote.
3. Check they have received your invoice.
You may have done everything right up until this point, raised a beautiful invoice, included all the necessary info and emailed it to the correct person, but are you sure they have received it?
They may have accidentally deleted the email, or it went into their junk mail. Allow a couple of days and then phone them to confirm. Don’t just hit send and then forget about it!
Step 3: Following up on an invoice
After you have phoned your client to make sure they received it, there are additional steps you can take.
1. Final check
Call or email your client a week before your invoice is due for payment to make sure there are no delays in settlement. If there are any problems, this gives you time to resolve them.
2. Due date
Check your bank account on the due date to see if your client has paid. If they haven’t, then follow up straight away. The longer you delay in following up, the longer you have to wait for the funds.
3. Keep on it
Don’t feel awkward about chasing up payment. Keep on it, as next time they will pay it quickly if they want to avoid your calls!