WORKetc is unique among other business management apps in that it doesn’t just keep track of your leads, clients, and projects, it actively ties each aspect of your business — from sales to projects to finance to support — to your bottom line.
By combining CRM, project management, sales, time tracking, support, and billing, you can get a fuller picture of your business financials compared to piecemeal or even other similar all-in-one apps.
Of course, when it comes to invoicing, sometimes it doesn’t matter how comprehensive your system is. There will always be outliers, the late-paying clients — the persistent bane of every small business’s existence.
In fact, according to QuickBooks Online maker Intuit, 16% of invoices don’t get paid at all. That’s a big chunk of money for any small business to lose out on.
Debt collection still hasn’t become an exact science since we last wrote about how to deal with late-paying clients, but fortunately there are a few steps you can take to help push your clients to pay on time.
It all starts with your WORKetc-generated invoice itself. Here’s how.
1. Clearly state your payment terms
If you have a late fee policy, it’s a good idea to include a warning or explanation in words as plain as possible. Lay out clearly how much the client would have to pay if they exceed the due date. If you don’t have a late fee policy, you might want to start thinking about implementing one. The idea of having to pay more can help prod your clients to pay their bills on time.
You can also use your invoice to call attention to any early payment discounts you might be offering. Even a small discount of, say, 2% if the invoice is paid within 10 days, can be a huge motivator for your clients.
Another tip is to already take late payers into consideration and update the dates on your payment terms accordingly. Data from Xero suggests that whether they’re due immediately or in 30 days, invoices are, on average, paid two weeks late. If you want to get paid in 30 days, make your payment terms 13 days or less.
There is an editable box at the top of the invoice design options page in Settings > Invoice Designs that lets you enter your specific payment terms. You just have to do it once; all subsequent invoices will automatically include your payment terms.
If you know a bit of HTML, you can even hard-code your payment terms into an invoice template. You can, for example, include an image that clearly states exactly how much an invoice will cost if paid early, on time, or late.
2. Use simple language
Be specific when talking about due dates. Stamping “Due upon receipt” or using “Net D” (“net” is just invoice-speak for “days”, and the “D” stands for how many days — typically 10, 15, or 30 — the payment will be due) is all well and good, but unfortunately not every client understands exactly what they mean.
Instead, use the far simpler method of just flat out saying, as an example, “Payment due within 10 days”. Or even better, “Payment due on May 27, 2016”. This way your clients can immediately identify the timeframe. Net D can be confusing, especially when you’re a B2C company, and “Due upon receipt” doesn’t give an exact, strict deadline.
By default, WORKetc already lets you set specific due dates for your invoices. The date can also be formatted according to your needs. You could format it as “year-day-month”, ”day-month-year”, or you can use slashes instead of dashes, for example.
3. Itemize everything
Let’s say you run a website design company. If you’re billing for a website design and hosting project, don’t just have those two items listed on your invoice. Make sure to include detailed listings of all charges: the actual design, any additional images or copy you were asked to create, extra revisions, hosting fees, and setup fees.
A detailed itemized list eliminates the need for your client to call you up and ask for additional details about the charges. They save time; you save time.
You can create products or services you commonly bill for as catalog products within WORKetc and add detailed descriptions for each of them. This way, you can immediately get highly detailed itemized listings for your invoices.
Any images included in your product description can also be automatically added to your invoice. If your invoice has a listing for “image creation,” for example, that listing can come with an actual image of whatever it was you made for your client — as long as it’s in the product catalog.
4. Customize invoice details
Sometimes, invoices aren’t paid on time because clients need specific information that was inadvertently left out of a stock invoice. Take the time to talk to your clients about what kind of information they require on their invoices.
Ask if they need you to include an employee identification number, for example, or an ABN or a purchase order number. Get the details of the person to whom you should be sending invoices.
Asking for all of this information can use up a bit of your time, but in the long run this simple trick can save you from the headache of having to draw up a new invoice.
Additional info can be included on an invoice by using custom fields on the client or invoice record. You can add everything from text and numbers to even images. You can also add HTML code to an invoice template to include details of payments received on the invoice.