“You can spend up to 10% of your work time creating, sending and chasing invoices” - Xero
That number is nothing to sniff at.
If you work a 40 hour week (and it’s probably more), that’s up to 4 hours spent on invoicing! And that’s all without factoring in other necessary admin tasks, like job scheduling, stock management, or your day-to-day communications, too.
If you’re finding that admin tasks and manual invoicing are taking up too much of your time, or that of your team, then you’re probably looking for an invoice management system of some kind to help, right?
If that is the case, then you’re in the right place: we’ve got 8 top tips that can help!
Through a combo of excellent software tools and a few smart strategies that you can employ on the side, you can transform your invoicing process into the satisfying task it should be.
- Tip #1. Use job management software
- Tip #2. Integrate your accounting software
- Tip #3. Invoice accurately and on time
- Tip #4. Capture information from your engineers
- Tip #5. Communicate with the right people to get paid on time
- Tip #6. Chase your customers for invoicing with service reminders
- Tip #7. Keep your payment terms short
- Tip #8. Add late payment fees
It’s time to take the pain out of invoicing and get the results you want, consistently. With an invoice management system, invoicing will become less of a headache and instead, you’ll enjoy improved cash flow, a boost to your profitability, and even a more productive workforce, too!
Whether you’re an SMB or an enterprise, these days there’s no excuse for not having software to keep track of where your money is and where it’s going.
If you haven’t already, it’s high past time to say goodbye to all that paperwork!
With job management software, you can create and send invoices in mere moments.
Why spend the manual effort when there’s readily available (and inexpensive) solutions to get the job done faster? Squeezing admin in between jobs, or working more hours than you need is far more likely to lead to mistakes, lost revenue, and even to frustrated customers who’ll only take longer to pay...
Fortunately, with a quality job management software backing you up, you’ll be able to benefit from a sophisticated invoice management system, one that lets you make use of automated invoicing to carry out the mundane and repetitive tasks that you love to hate.
For instance, if you were to use Commusoft, you’d be able to configure specific rules and set prices so that when it comes to invoicing for a variety of jobs that come at a standard rate, the automated invoicing software can take care of it in a flash!
This is an especially useful feature if you’re frequently attending the same sort of jobs, e.g. servicing boilers in residential properties. Why repeat the same steps over and over again, when your software can do it for you?
While some might dislike the idea of giving financial autonomy to a software, it’s important to keep in mind that great software allows you to retain control; that means it’s entirely up to you to delegate and decide what to automate, and what might still need a more personal touch. But, if you can save time on regular jobs, a little can go a long way to quickly securing revenue.
A smart invoice management system will allow you to easily follow up on other tasks, like late payments, split payment across multiple invoices, and even consolidate invoices so customers can pay bulk invoices in one easy-to-read hit.
We’ve got more to share below, but if you're in interested in a job management software solution, you can click to jump and see what Commusoft can do for you, too.
Tips #2. Integrate your accounting and payment software
An invoice management system in your job management software is made even more powerful when it’s linked with your accounting and payment solutions.
Xero is just one of many accounting tools that integrates with Commusoft, as an example, but as we mentioned at the start of the article, connecting Xero (or Sage, or any other compatible accounting package) means that you’re undoubtedly going to benefit because they communicate data automatically.
This way, you’re sending invoice and payment data with no need for double data entries, which helps you to keep track of your finances on a single screen.
Like accountancy integrations, introducing a payment solution that lets your team use on-site payment devices in the field (like SumUp) are excellent examples of other software integrations that will speed up payments and improve cashflow.
Similar to how market stalls, pop-up vendors, and all sorts of other services make use of mobile payment tech these days, your engineers can benefit from using similar devices whilst out in the field to take direct payments from customers in an instant.
This means you’ll get paid on the job and have money in the bank ASAP, rather than waiting around for days, or even weeks for it to come through.
It’s convenient for you, and for customers, too!
Tips #3. Invoice accurately and on time
Failure to invoice accurately or on time can be a major obstacle that gets in the way of growing your company, even when it may seem like your business is booming.
It’s so often the case that managers or owners underestimate just how much time is taken up by invoicing. A big reason why invoicing can become a chore is simple: if it’s done manually, there’s a lot of paperwork involved. As satisfying as putting pen to paper can be, it’s also more likely to be inaccurate, especially if you're in a hurry or trying to process a lot of detail without the aid of software:
In fact, “about 25% of time is spent on resolving problems related to invoice data entry and processing, as this Wax Digital study found.” - GoCardless
Whether or not you have a dedicated team in the office to handle admin tasks, or even if it’s your engineers organising the invoices themselves, no one should be without the right set-up to make this easier. Delays mean missing out on using your time in more effective ways.
“Businesses using online tools are paid 33% faster than those issuing paper invoices” - GoCardless
Wasting time on manual admin versus using an invoice management system is only made worse when other tasks come into play, like the inevitable hassle of chasing late-payers (though we’ve got advice on that, too), and inconsistencies will only make the struggle worse. But that’s where good data management really shows its worth.
Tips #4. Capture information from your engineers
Capitalising on your customer’s data is another great way to help improve how you invoice.
This means if you have a comprehensive database, that’s easily accessible and updates in real-time from the office, or out in the field, you’re going to be more effective and efficient as a result.
Fewer instances of clarifying information with customers over the phone or in person, also lead to you completing your tasks without extra hassle.
When engineers can capture information from the customer easily, thanks to customisable forms, it’ll reduce the likelihood of you leaving money on the table as well. Time-tracking software is essential here, especially when there are several engineers working on a client’s account, or for an individual engineer who’ll typically work on several accounts each day.
By having data that’s easy to understand, see, and update, they can make sure that everyone is capturing, sharing, and making use of data in the best way possible.
Tips #5. Communicate with the right people to get paid on time
Of course, comprehensive customer data doesn’t just make payments easier, it makes communication easier as well. After all, you want to be sure that your payment requests are sent out not just for the right amount, but to the right person too!
For corporate clients it may often be the case the person who appreciates the service you’ve just provided isn’t the one who actually transfers you the funds.
On the flipside, if your client’s accounts department doesn’t know who you are, they might ignore your reminders requesting them to make a payment.
If you maintain a customer database with all the right contacts, it makes it easy to ensure you’re emailing, calling, or even posting letters to the right person, every time.
When you’re sending out communications of any kind it will also help to look as professional as possible, too.
To help, check out our guide to creating professional custom forms below!
Tips #6. Contact customers with service reminders and notifications
Speaking of communicating with the right person, sometimes you may be having to chase a customer, whether it’s to book a service, or to follow up on an invoice. That’s where automatic reminders and notifications come in.
If you undertake work for commercial clients, the problem of late payments can be a bigger issue than for individual domestic customers. After all, accountants in finance departments are often under pressure from all sorts of different directions so it helps to make it easy for them when the details are clear and instructions easy to follow. An invoice management system can help you achieve that.
When it comes to chasing customers, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are annoying people when reaching out for payment. On the contrary, you're likely just trying to get paid for doing your job. You should let the client know immediately if their account is overdue. Send a reminder after a few days, and pick up the phone if the payment is overdue by a week or more.
This process, however, can be made even easier by software that can automatically generate a list of overdue payments and send out emails automatically at different stages of the "chasing" journey. Simple, friendly prompts can inform customers they need to take action, and a quick email is more likely to incite action than an angry phone call, especially if it was an honest mistake. This can mean you might never have to step in and get involved manually and still get paid what's owed.
Tips #7. Keep your payment terms short
Keep your payment terms short. There aren’t many reasons why your residential clients shouldn’t be able to pay within 7 days. In fact, longer payment terms (e.g. 30 days) just make it easier for them to delay payment even further. But, as Xero reports:
“You needn’t feel bad about giving shorter invoice payment terms. Close to 75% of invoices ask for payment within 2 weeks, so expectations are changing.”
Depending on the size of the bill, customers may expect longer to pay, or even require a payment plans that makes it more comfortable for them (see the article we wrote with Vendigo for more details on a solution that can help). Of course, what solutions you're willing to provide are up to you, but the important thing is (at least for simple jobs) that if you make payment solutions easy, then revenue will tick over faster.
Tips #8. Add late payment fees
No one ever wants to be in a position where you have to approach a customer and ask them to pay more money, especially if they’ve not paid you what you’re already owed.
A simple way to nip this in the bud is to make it clear that late payments fees can be applied if invoices aren’t paid in a timely manner; this could be a simple statement made clear on your website, or in the payment agreement.
It’s important to remember though, again, as Xero reports that:
“If you’ve set your payment terms out clearly on your invoice and the client has ignored them, you are entitled to charge interest in the form of overdue fees.”
Customers may not be happy about it, but then you’re not exactly going to be happy if they’re being unreasonable and refuse to pay you. You can always drop the charge if needs be, and they may well learn their lesson, but having a policy like this in place can give you an edge in preventing payment disputes from becoming drawn out.
After all, it’s worth building good relationships rather than demands that might rile customers over time, even if they are in the wrong. In this way you can retain the client’s goodwill while communicating that you are not a soft touch.
Getting paid can often the most satisfying part of the job, not only because you can enjoy the satisfaction of work well done (and money well earned) but every pound you get, it’s another step toward security for your business and employees.
Ultimately, job management software that allows for easy invoicing thanks to a comprehensive invoice management system will make life that much easier. With it, you’ll make invoicing a joy not only for you and your employees, but for your customers, too.
You can find out more about how Commsuoft empowers your business to better track and manage finances by clicking here!
And don't forget, we have resources to help you too! Click below to watch our video and access your free guide: How to Send an Invoice that Customers will Pay!