The best way to avoid confusion is to be very clear. When clients have all available information available at first glance, they’re more likely to take immediate action. This is an absolute truth for any business-to-business transaction where reviews and approvals are required to issue payment.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo DaVinci
Here are the best practices for creating invoices that actually perform and can be a valuable asset when it comes to expediting payments from your clients.
This first one is optional but good to have if you have clients that you regularly send invoices to or have invoices that are grouped under a single project. It will give everyone an at-a-glance status of all of their invoices and help avoid any questions or confusion about what this invoice is for. If there is an outstanding balance, it will be easy for the client to see and pay.
“The Table” — the main body of your invoice
Here, you will include the standard information that everyone expects on an invoice: date, product, etc. But the more detailed and clearly defined each item is, the less delay you can expect. Often, how these fields appear is controlled by your Product Settings and how you’ve defined them in the first place.
It is recommended that you break out the line items in as much detail as possible, especially when the description might be ambiguous or not easy to understand to someone unfamiliar with the project. For example, if your client needs to route their invoices to an Accounts Payable department, they may need to categorize the type of expense, which department it belongs to, and even define the category for their internal tracking (such as office supplies, hardware,or services). If your invoice already includes that information, you save everyone time and help get your invoice processed quicker.
Even if your client will be paying directly, it helps ease the process and reduce questions if the information is clearly spelled out. Especially with larger projects, there may be an element of “sticker shock” or price confusion when an invoice is received, even though the bill follows the contract precisely. When items are well-defined, it helps reassure clients and builds trust that your practices are transparent and fair.
For example, an invoice that shows the description and category of the product, along with quantity or other details, helps the client understand the value of what they have received from your business.
Advertise on your invoices
Although invoices are generally text-only and aren’t necessarily the easiest or best place to launch a new marketing campaign, it can still be a great way to communicate to your clients and make them aware of your policies or additional services.
This may include:
- Discount for early payment
- Discount for certain payment methods (ex: $5 off any invoice paid by credit card)
- Discount for early scheduling (ex: confirm your appointment before December 31 and receive 5% off all services)
- Penalty fees for late payment
- Special rate for long-term contracts (ex: lower monthly rate)
- Supplemental services that your business offers (ex: holiday light installation/tear down, seasonal decor rental)
- Specialty services (ex: drought-resistant garden planning, butterfly garden maintenance)
- Tips and advice (ex: gather your documents year-round and post to our digital archive to be review-ready anytime)
Make it easy to pay by accepting multiple payment methods
The best predictor of whether an invoice will be paid quickly is how easy it is for the client to issue the payment. Businesses often want outgoing payments to be issued at the deadline for their terms (i.e., pay on day 89 of a 90 day payment cycle) but also want that payment to reflect on their ledger immediately, so even businesses who rely on check payments may be agreeable to ACH transfers, which helps them keep their books as accurate as possible. Accepting ACH transfers is often a service provided by the same provider who handles your credit card processing, so adding it is typically straightforward.
Individual clients may prefer using credit cards for payments for a variety of reasons and they are the most commonly requested form of payment. Adding the ability to pay electronically to your invoices will expedite payment and keep clients happy. The more advanced your payment options are, the easier it is to pay. If you can store multiple payment types (multiple credit cards, ACH accounts, etc.) and save your clients the time of finding their card and manually typing in the details, the more likely they are to finalize the payment the first time they view the invoice.