We all want to get paid faster, don’t we? And while there are many ways to increase the speed with which your invoices get paid, one of the best ways is re-examining your invoice design.
Consider this: direct mail companies spend millions of dollars split testing their junk mail to determine what gets a better response—no matter how slight that difference might be. One word choice can make all the difference between someone opening a letter or throwing that letter away. This same principle applies to invoicing. First of all, you’re asking for someone’s attention, and then you’re asking them to respond (a.k.a. pay you). Small changes to your invoice can make a huge difference when it comes to getting paid.
Let’s look at four more ways you can improve your invoices:
List it all. Don’t count on your client’s sharp-as-a-tack memory when it comes to the services you’ve provided. Vague line items like “design work” might not call to mind the 52 different Facebook graphics you created, along with those 14 rounds of revisions. Remind them. List what they received in sufficient enough detail that they’ll remember why they’re paying you so well. But don’t overdo it. A 40 page invoice detailing every time someone sneezed and changed a font may end up being a red flag that the invoice needs to be set aside for a detailed review. This is definitely a case where the Goldilocks Principle applies: not to much, not too little, but just right.
Give the people what they want. Find out what your customer needs in order to approve the payment of an invoice, and then make sure those things are spelled out on the invoice. If you’re dealing with a new client, ask about these things ahead of time. Does your client need a PO number? A job number? A tax ID number? Determine how you should optimize the invoice for each client, and then make sure those items appear on every invoice, every time. It adds some extra work on the front end, but you’ll be glad you did it.
Invoice promptly. This isn’t exactly a design tip, but it’s important nonetheless. The faster you issue an invoice after the work has been completed, the faster you’re going to get paid. Your sense of urgency will have a direct effect on your clients—they’ll be more likely to get right on it. Seriously. Get this: One recent study indicated that invoices sent within a week of the work being finished will get paid, on average, in fewer than five days. FIVE DAYS! (Click the link if you don’t believe me.) While this one study may not apply to all situations, one thing is clear: You will NOT get paid until you send that invoice, so every day you wait to send is another you wait to get paid.
Say thank you. What are you, an animal? Say thank you, for goodness sake. Saying thank you makes people feel good, and it makes you feel good for saying it. (Thank you for reading this, by the way.) But there’s more. According once study, adding the words “Thank You” to the bottom of your invoice increases the percentage of invoices that get paid on time by 5 percent. And while you’re at it, why not make it easy for your clients to pat you on the back? Add a line like, “Love our service? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Try some of these tips on your next round of invoices and see what kind of response you get.Test them out. Figure out what works and what doesn’t, and then adjust accordingly. Getting paid quicker could be just a small tweak away.