Whether you’re partners in a large business or the owner of a small business, billing can be worse than pulling teeth. Least of all because you’re always depending on customers’ and clients’ agreements to pay on time. Here are several methods for improving your billing process – starting immediately.
- Establish Terms
Always set your terms in stone and make them crystal-clear to understand. Clients need to know, in as few words as possible, of your billing terms and the setup. This includes the final date for deadlines, as well as what will happen to them when/if they miss them. You don’t want them to forget about a clause they promised to fulfill.
- Reduce Errors
Sadly, invoicing errors happen. We’re humans – and even if we use software, humans make mistakes all the time. Here are a few errors:
- Forgetting to send an invoice
- Ignoring unpaid invoices
- Never signing a contract
- Invoicing the wrong department
- Failing to clearly explain each charge on the invoice
This is why cloud billing is an affordable solution that reduces a lot of human error. As a platform, it provides you (and customers) a real-time experience for sending invoices/paying invoices. Cloud platforms also manage balances, in real time, in various business models (B2C, B2B, B2B2C).
When we pay bills and fulfillment, we enjoy consistency. We need a certain level of predictability. (For example, I know the date my ISP will charge me for their services. This helps me prepare to pay them, on that day, and to make sure I have their payment in full.) It is also advisable to send an invoice the same day you deliver customers a product or fulfill a service. This will remove a lot of the headaches for you, since you know you will send invoice #070 to customer A, meaning you won’t spend much time figuring out the days.
If you want to up the timeframe of receiving payments, it’s a good idea to invoice weekly or bi-weekly. Send those invoices on the weekend, when people have more time in their schedules to send their constant payments. Send invoices on the 1st day of the month when people are more liable to start the month off “fresh”.
- Proper Tracking
No matter the software or billing system, a numbering system is a necessity for properly tracking invoices. This makes it easier for your business in the event that you must produce a “paper” trail for audits. Never choose billing software that doesn’t not automatically provide a tracking system.
- Automate Everything
As mentioned previously, automation is key for making your billing process easier. They save both parties time. However, not all software is made the same. To have as successful a business venture as possible, look for systems that will:
- Set-up recurring schedules for billing
- Automatically charge recurring fees
- Automate reminders
- Track billable time
Customers (myself included) tend to miss payment dates. Busy schedules are a part of reality. Unless we’re OCD about schedules, payments are missed sometimes. That’s why it’s a good idea to send notes for reminding customers about the due date, as well as sending another one after the due date (in the event that they haven’t paid the invoice). While there is software that does this for you, saving you time and effort, contacting them personally is a friendly, human thing to do in this age of automation.
Invoicing is a part of business. It does not have to be painful or complicated. As I’m sure you know, one of the ways of running a successful business is to make everything as simple as possible. Even so, it is worth going the extra mile to send constant reminders and to pursue accounts that are late on their payments – even if it means “getting on their bad side.”
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