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4 invoicing tips that'll actually make your clients smile

There are techniques you can use with your invoices that both highlight your firm’s value and make the process more convenient for clients.

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November 30, 2017 |
Steven Burns

Generally speaking, no one’s thrilled to receive a bill. Your clients are no exception. However, there are techniques you can use with your invoices that both highlight your firm’s value and make the process more convenient for clients. The result? Bills that make them smile (or at least not frown).

Think about it: If you invoice a client every month (or every two weeks, as some savvy professionals do), you’re consistently interacting with them and communicating the value of your services. If you get it right, you’ll end up with clients who are happy to pay for your services. That’s why you should follow these 4 tips.


1. Tailor your invoices. The way something is communicated can make all the difference. It’s vital to provide clients with the information that they respond to in order to reduce conflict and questions. While these tips don’t apply so much if you only do stipulated sum billing, if you bill for additional services or expenses, they can still be helpful.

If a client has a tendency to argue about every line on your invoices, it might make sense to send them less detailed bills so there are fewer things to pick apart. Conversely, if a client often calls asking for more details, you may want to itemize more. Whichever way your clients lean, you should try to accommodate them in order to make the process more pleasant.

When you follow this advice, your cash flow will speed up. Since there will be less back-and-forth about invoices, you simply get paid faster.


2. Include details when you can. If your clients don’t tend to argue over every item in your invoices, there are a few other reasons why it’s helpful to itemize them. When you include more detail in your invoices, you’re really pointing out all the work that you do. In other words, your clients routinely see a full list of all the ways in which your firm helps them.

This is why it also makes sense to include zero-charge items on your invoices. It’s a way of reminding clients of the favors you’ve done and how much it really cost you. They’ll be more appreciative, and if you want to start charging more later, you’ll have more evidence of your efforts to back you up.


3. Offer an early payment discount. Offer your clients a small discount for paying by a certain deadline. They’ll be happy to take advantage of a deal, even if they’re only getting something like 2% off. Meanwhile, your cash flow will benefit.


4. Go digital. Most offices and individuals are moving toward being truly paperless. It’s simply more convenient to have everything instant, searchable, and backed up. It just makes sense, then, to offer your clients the options to both receive and pay invoices online. It’s a seamless and easy experience that’ll remind them of how professional you are.

We should note, too, that in addition to making your clients happier, digital billing and payments tend to speed up your cash flow. Emailed invoices arrive immediately and clients can pay almost instantly.

A cloud project management and accounting platform will help you even more, because you can access all of your data and send invoices from anywhere at any time. BQE Core, for example, has some of the most comprehensive mobile apps out there, so you can even send bills from your phone. What used to take a week or more can now be accomplished in seconds.

Whichever platform you use, though, these four ideas should make the invoicing process less painful for your clients while (not insignificantly) encouraging repeat business and increasing cash flow.

Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, and during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After founding his own software company, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development for the company’s groundbreaking project accounting solution, BQE Core.

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