Often when work is completed sending your invoice is the last thing on your mind, but actually, it should be on your mind all through the job, if you are billing for hours keeping good records as you go can help make the invoicing process a lot easier.
Make sure your billing is detailed, set aside time at the end of each session for this. I can’t tell you how many debts we have that are disputed overtime issues.
Keep detailed records of your time
If it’s possible, get your customer to sign off on your times especially if the job will go over a few days or weeks. Customers don’t like surprises on their invoices and my suggestion is that you keep them updated daily. If you can get your customers to sign a daily time sheet or if they are not present send an SMS letting them know of your times, this way you both have a record.
Most accounting packages have time tracking, but I am sure there are apps that you could use.
Keep detailed records of inventory
Second but of equal importance is to keep detailed records of inventory, this is another area the causes disputes resulting in debts not being paid, so many arguments happen over the costs and amount of materials used on a job. Please record what is useful and again get your customers to acknowledge these as you move through a job. Keep good records so at the end of the job you are not guessing what was used.
Use a job completion form
When you have completed the job get your customer to sign off that the job has been completed to their satisfaction. Use a dedicated job completion form that includes the clauses from your Terms and Conditions stating what the requirements are for a remedy if they are not happy with any element of the job. This form should also have a time frame in which they have to raise concerns and a process to which to raise these.
This is so important because many jobs that are not remedied quickly get left to fester and may never be paid and it may have been over one small element of the job.
I can’t stress how important having a disputes resolution process is for your business.
Make it someone's job, preferably not yours
You can make it your administration person or bookkeeper responsibility to ensure jobs are signed off on and completed to your customer’s satisfaction.
So now it is time to send your invoice, as part of the finalisation of a job gather all the information and send it to your bookkeeper, I also recommend calling them and to discuss all the elements in the invoice. This can save a lot of time in the long run if there is confusion over element of the job being invoiced. You will also get clarity that your bookkeeper knows exactly what to put in the invoice.
Then send it off by email through your account package
- Make sure you track your time and inventory for every job
- Keep detailed records to send to both your customer and your bookkeeper
- Have a completion form filled in by your customer at the end of the job
- Use your accounting package's features for tracking time and sending invoices
Check that your Terms and Conditions have a dispute resolution process that suits your business.