Invoices are important cogs in the business machine. The faster you raise an invoice and deliver it to your customers, the faster you get paid and add the liquidity to do your business. However, writing an invoice properly is a mammoth task in itself. As most home service businesses still depend on manual invoicing, they run the risk of leaving out important details like payment terms or accepted payment methods and thus delay getting paid on time.
If you’re new to preparing an invoice from scratch, this blog is a great place to start. We have introduced the important elements you need to write an invoice and additional tips to make it look professional and get paid faster.
How to write an invoice? What are the elements of an invoice?
Service providers write an invoice addressing their customers to collect payment for the services rendered. These service invoices clearly outline the cost of services rendered, with the payment terms and description of the services rendered or products consumed. Ideally, an invoice consists of 14 important elements:
- Use the word “Invoice” as the headline
- Add your company logo, name, and address
- Display the invoice number clearly
- Enter your customer’s name and address
- Specify the date when services are rendered
- Write down the date when the invoice is raised
- List down the line items (services rendered or spare parts used)
- Display the unit price of services or products
- Showcase the subtotal of line items promptly
- Present the tax rates below the line items
- Lay down the total amount owed clearly
- Jot down the payment terms of the invoice
- Set out the last date of payment as due date
- Add a personal note for your customer
7 tips to write an invoice that gets you paid faster
We have listed down seven sure-fire tips which can help you get paid faster. While these tips aren’t all exhaustive, these suggestions will help field service businesses get their invoicing process going in the right direction and adapt to customer demands rapidly.
1. Use an invoicing template
Manually writing, processing, and sending customer invoices is time-consuming and arduous. Worst of all, manual intervention ensures that there is no room for consistency or compliance. This makes auditing a nightmare.
While one invoice is different from another based on the services rendered, some key elements stay the same for every invoice processed. Having a template with preset invoicing elements will reduce compliance concerns while ensuring consistency across the process.
2. Ensure that your invoices are accurate
The manual invoicing process is prone to the risk of missing out important information like regional taxes, tax number, and more. Raising invoices in a hurry can result in critical information slipping through cracks and dragging the invoice cycle longer than necessary.
If you have an estimation process in place, it would do well to convert the estimates into invoices to reduce the number of errors. Matching your estimates with the invoices before they are sent out can also help.
3. Discuss and agree on fair payment terms
While some home service businesses get paid immediately after the service, most of them offer a payment period within which their customer can make payment for the services rendered. This is especially true in commercial invoicing and recurring service offerings.
Before you set out a payment term, discuss it with your customer. Enquire and understand their ideal payment process and compare it with your own. Negotiate and establish a payment term that works for you both. Once you have fixed a payment term, put it down in writing through a contract or highlight it clearly in your invoice.
4. Incentivize on-time payments
Offering early payment discounts can encourage your customers to pay your invoices before they are due. As you incentivize proper payments, try to implement a late fee plan that motivates your customer base to pay on time.
In addition to mentioning your late fee rules in the invoice itself, try sending a reminder a few days before the due date and mention your late fee process in the reminder. Avoiding late fees is a great incentive for customers to pay on time.
5. Set up recurring invoices
If you offer recurring services, it would be a great idea to send recurring invoices at preset intervals. Recurring invoices ensure a steady stream of income, keeping the cash flow consistent. If your customers opt for it, you can also charge them directly for the pre-agreed amount on their credit card or bank account preventing most invoice and payment hassles.
6. Automate your invoicing process
The complexities involved in writing an invoice, makes the process a taxing affair. One small error can cost your company a lump sum of money. Consistency and accuracy are the keys to proper invoicing. However, manual invoices don’t ensure either.
With the right set of tools, field service businesses can simplify the complexities involved in invoicing processes and enable businesses to get paid faster. Automating the invoicing process, invoice templates, invoice management workflows will not only take the stress out of the process but also make the process more efficient and seamless. What’s more, the right tool will send automated payment reminders over SMS and email to customers.
Automated invoicing software for field service businesses like Zuper, converts estimates to invoices in just a click. It captures line items automatically from the job templates and displays them on the invoice without any manual intervention. What’s more, these invoices can be digitally shared with the customers at the click of a button and you can get their acceptance and even prompt them to pay online.
7. Offer online payment options
Today’s tech-savvy customers don’t carry around cash. They prefer a cashless, touch-free payment transaction that can be completed using their smartphones. Offering your customers online payment options will not only offer your customers a seamless experience, but also speed up the payment cycle itself.
The major advantages of offering online services are the increased cost and time savings, improved sales, and reduced manual followup costs. Allowing credit card payments will encourage low balance service enrollment. In addition to increasing the speed of transaction and convenience, it will give you a competitive edge over your rivals who accept only cash payments.
Benefits of e-invoicing or invoice automation
Invoice automation software solutions like Zuper make the process completely touchless. If done properly, invoice automation offers an array of benefits. Automated invoice management process can:
- Eliminate the need for constant follow ups
- Speed up the invoice payment cycle
- Provide an unrestricted view of the process
- Improve early-payment opportunities
- Cut down manual invoicing costs
- Ensure accurate invoices every time
- Help stay clear of compliance risks
E-invoicing or invoice automation is not just the future; but there is also an indispensable need for it in the present for home service businesses. Zuper is an all-in-one field service management solution that comes with a powerful invoicing module which automates quotation to invoice conversion, digitizes and speeds up invoice delivery, and provides a user-friendly online payment option.
Best of all, Zuper enables field service businesses to accelerate the payment process, automate customer acceptance, integrate invoices with back-end accounting systems, get a bird’s eye view on the status of invoice payments, send timely automated reminders to customers about invoice payment, and generate actionable insights out of available data.
If you are searching for invoicing software for your home service business, then it’s worth taking the time to try out Zuper. Sign up for a free trial to see what it’s like to have a fully automated system to manage your invoices.