There are two things every small business owner wants:
- Provide great products and services to their customers.
- Get paid on time.
You can do both with WORKetc. We’ve even covered how to design an invoice that helps you do the latter, and today we’re going over a few of those tips again. Not in the context of an invoice, though, but in terms of the email that accompanies it.
You don’t just send out invoices by themselves. You send an email along with it. That email should hold equal importance as the invoice itself; after all, it’s the first thing your client will read. You have to make sure it has all the most important details.
Concise doesn’t just mean short; it also means clear and to the point. You should always specify in your email exactly how much your client needs to pay and when they have to pay it.
Just like for your invoice itself, always try to use simple language in your invoice email. The terms “net 30” or “net 15” might immediately make total sense to you, but chances are they’ll fly over the heads of your less business-savvy clients. “Due upon receipt”, meanwhile, carries too much wiggle room.
Use exact terms instead, like “Payment due 10 days after receipt” or, even better, “Payment due on May 1st, 2017.” As for the amount due, make sure to mention the total amount due minus any discounts that they may have gotten. You can go deeper into the details and discounts in the invoice itself.
By using WORKetc’s invoice email template, you won’t have to type in the exact amount and the due date every single time. Instead, you can use autotext tags, which will automatically pull the right data from the invoice you’re sending out.
For the amount due, for example, you can use the [Invoice Total] tag. There’s also an [Invoice Balance] tag if there are balances that have yet to be paid. For the due date, you can use the [Invoice Due Date] tag. Using these two tags alone will save you time, especially when you’re sending out a lot of invoices.
If you’re sending out at invoice for $1,778.95 due on May 1st, for example, the email accompanying it will read, “Please pay the total amount of $1,778.95 by 5/1/2017.”
If you’re sending out a $2,765.80 invoice due June 1st, the email will automatically read, “Please pay the total amount of $2,765.80 by 6/1/2017.”
You can create your own custom invoice email by going to Settings > Invoice and scrolling down past the invoice template editor.
It’s easy to personalize your invoice emails using WORKetc’s invoice email template editor. Again, it’s just a matter of using the right tags.
You can, for example, address your clients either by their full name, their first name, or their surname by using the [Full Name], [First Name], and [Surname] tags, respectively.
Of course, you shouldn’t just personalize your email, you have to be polite as well. Think about it; who would you be more inclined to pay: someone who sent a polite email or someone who goes on a tear right off the bat?
Plus, it doesn’t really take a lot of time and effort to be polite. Something as simple as using “please” and “thank you” can be enough. You can save the stronger language for the overdue notification.
Getting paid for the work you do is always a race against the clock. You want to send out invoices as soon as the work is complete.
Our head of support, Steve, was just recently telling me about how one of our clients, Rob Lyons of the UK-based IT firm NetCullis, makes sure he’s always sending out invoices on time.
Rob has set a schedule for himself where every Monday he’d spend time on WORKetc’s unbilled charges page (Finances > Unbilled Charges), generating all the invoices that are needed, and sending them out to clients.
Sometimes he’d hold off on some charges if he knows the job isn’t 100% complete, but every week, without fail, he goes through all current unbilled charges and makes sure all timesheets have been billed.
Creating a habit like Rob’s is important. You can make sticking to your schedule easier by creating a recurring reminder that sends out an email notification. “Check unbilled charges and send out invoices”, for example.
You can even add a link to the unbilled charges page in WORKetc to the task description to make help you get started on generating those invoices even quicker, like in the screenshot below.
You can also create reminders for any specific invoice that needs to be generated. If you’re checking unbilled charges on Monday and there’s an unbilled charge that should be invoiced on Wednesday because the work isn’t done yet, for example, you can simply create a reminder for that specific invoice and set the date to when the work is 100% complete.
We use the email “cover letter” to remind clients what we did for them last month, what we’re doing for them thim month, and what are plans are for the coming month(s).
We also remind clients that of pre-paid annual discounts with each email.
Nevertheless, I’m looking for solutions for the chronic late payers. More info on solutions for that is welcome.
This is a good combo of tips, getting those pre-filled letters is a great idea to ensure no ‘rude’ emails go out. And the habit is a great idea too. No point having a pre-filled letter if you no remember to send them out!
I think auto responses are a great practice. They let the customer know that you have received their ticket, but the most critical part is that you follow. If your auto response says “someone will get back to you in 24hrs” try and do it in 12. Even if it’s just checking in on the person to see if there has been any additional issues or perhaps they found a resolution. I agree with this article that you need to also be personable. I hate bots, I want to know that I am talking to a real person and not a linear text based program with structured auto responses. Lastly I’d like to mention the “notes” feature is a great way to add a side bit of commentary on a support ticket that won’t reflect in the knowledgebase.
This is really good info. We are going to give it a try, specifically the part about putting an exact date due. We sometimes have to just call people to get them to pay. It can be frustrating.
We use our cover letter to include invoice amount and our direct payment link. Many clients get the invoices and pay by return. This is part of the power of the WorkETC system.
This is the one feature within Work[etc] that we don’t use but we recently had a rather large invoice that took forever to receive payment on. Until now, we’ve handled finances separately outside of the system which means we don’t really have a consistent paper trail. Questions such as who’s sending out the invoice…who’s tracking payment…who’s following up on overdue invoices…seem to have inconsistent answers. I think it’s time to use the system for this and see if we can get a higher payment rate with our clients. I also like the idea of making the subject line really specific: You owe me “X” dollars by “X” date – brilliant!