Invoice 101: The Basics of the Invoicing Process

March 26, 2021
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When a customer or client seeks a service from your business, an invoice is your method of getting paid for the work you provide. A typical invoice consists of a brief description of the service, the cost amount of the service, along with how and when the customer is expected to pay their balance. However, there’s much more to invoicing than meets the eye.

Although an invoice might seem like just another form of financial record-keeping, it’s also a legal safeguard and a method of customer relations. For everything you need to know about the basics of the invoicing process, and what it can do for your business, check out this 101-level guide.

What’s the Purpose of an Invoice?

Invoices are typically viewed as a simple method of getting paid, but let it be known: Invoices serve more than just one purpose. If you’ve been lacking in invoicing or opting for paper receipts and word-of-mouth transactions instead, now is the time to tune in. From efficient business finance management to top-notch customer relations, here are the true, in-depth purposes of invoicing.

Legal Protection and Financial Security

In legal terms, invoicing creates an account receivable with customers who owe payment for your company’s services. An invoice can be presented before service is rendered, after service is rendered or in installments, if service will be completed in multiple visits. While invoices alone are not legally-binding documents, creating an invoice provides documented proof of the services you plan to or have already completed.

Once a client agrees to the terms of your service, an invoice can be issued. In worse-case scenarios, an invoice can then be legally enforceable if the client challenges or fails to pay for your services. In other words, an invoice can serve as evidence if you’re having trouble getting paid and protect your company’s overall financial standing.

Professional Customer Relations and Communication

It’s time to ditch old-fashioned carbon forms and opt for a digital or printed invoice with a clean company logo! Messy handwritten requests or minimally-descriptive invoices can quickly concern customers and even leave them questioning if your business was their best choice. In comparison, a professional invoice can speak a thousand words on the level of professional services you provide.

An invoice also establishes a documented understanding between you and your customer on the services you plan to or have already completed. Each invoice should document job expectations and pricing details, so each party is in agreement on the services rendered. This upfront communication demonstrates to clients that you follow professional business practices. Likewise, invoices act as an all-in-one source for customer details, including their name, number, address and payment information, to help streamline your customer relations.

What are the Components of an Invoice?

When creating an invoice, it’s better to have too much information than not enough. An invoice that lacks key components will not offer the same legal and professional value customers and business operators seek. By gathering as much information as possible, you can better protect your company from unexpected hiccups down the line.

Consider this checklist of the key components of an invoice:

  1. Your business name or company logo, address and contact information
  2. The term “invoice” in the top right or left corner of the document
  3. A unique invoice number to easily locate the document at a later date, avoid duplicate payments and track customer transactions
  4. Customer contact details including name, phone number, job address and any other miscellaneous details helpful to your business
  5. The name and contact information of the employee who completed the job
  6. A line item description of the services rendered, followed by the date of service, labor hours and parts cost
  7. The total amount due from the customer
  8. A clear issued or sent date as well as a clear expected payment due date
  9. Instructions on how customers are to pay the invoice, such as who the payment should be made out to or instructions on how the customer may pay online
  10. A footer message thanking the customer for their business

When to Send an Invoice

The question of when to send an invoice will depend on the type of business you operate and the expectations of your customers. Typically, an invoice will be issued upon the completion of a job. This timing can help assure a client is 100% satisfied with the outcome of your work and will require no further updates or additions. Likewise, the scope of the project may shift during the working process, making it easier to invoice once work is complete.

When you’re ready to issue your invoice, be sure to provide a clear method for how customers can satisfy their payment. Whether you use an online payment processing program or you prefer to handle payments in person, customers should not have to struggle when navigating the payment process. This ease of payment will cap off the positive results of your work, resulting in an all-around happy customer.

Streamline your Invoicing Process

Now that we took a deep dive into the world of invoices, you may be wondering how you and your business can implement a more efficient invoicing process. If you’re looking for an all-in-one system to help get the job done, FieldPulse’s Invoicing Software may be your answer.

With the help of our top-notch software, you can quickly send invoices personalized with your company’s name and logo. Plus, you can send invoices directly from the job site with ease. And did we mention our Quickbooks integration also allows you to sync your invoices with your financial records to help stay on top of your books?

Contact FieldPulse to request a personalized demo and see exactly what our management software can do for your business (and your invoices) today.

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