While creating an invoice may seem straightforward, it can be more complicated for services than for products. If your recipient doesn’t have a tangible product in their hands, they’ll want to know the extent of the work completed and be sure about what they’re paying for.
A great invoice will leave your client with no doubt about the value they’re getting. And consistent communication at the time of sending, and after, will further support on-time payments.
Let’s discuss the ins and outs of how to write an invoice for your professional services business:
Best Practices for Creating First-Rate Service Invoices
Because invoices for services rendered can be written in different ways, it can be helpful to follow a set of best practices.
- Use a template. A branded and consistent look can lend a professional feel to your invoices. More importantly, templates clarify contact info and other details you’d always want to include. Look for or build a template made for services rather than products.
- Follow a numbering system. It’s common to number invoices for later reference and to facilitate easy accounting, but there’s a lot of flexibility in numbering format. Some businesses use sequential numbers starting from 1 for each client, plus a code for the type of service or project. Or, you could make them sequential across the company, regardless of client. However you approach invoice numbering, the important thing is to be consistent and ensure that you assign every invoice a unique number.
- Include as many details as you can. At a minimum, a service invoice should include the date when you sent it, the client’s name and contact info, the date range when your team performed work, the number of hours or units of service, the individual line item costs, the total cost and the due date. In the descriptions of each service, you might also include a comparison of hours and budget used vs. the total allocated to the project. The more detail you provide, the more likely you will receive on-time payment and avoid any confusion.
- Don’t forget the fine print. It’s wise to clearly state any taxes, late fees or other cost-related statements on every invoice. Depending on your industry and location, you might also need to include legal disclaimers or other terms.
Tips for Sending Invoices to Clients
The effort you allot to writing a thorough invoice won’t be very effective unless you also pay attention to how you send it to your client. Here are a few things to ease the process.
- Bill on time. Don’t let your invoices be a surprise! No matter your billing cycle, aim to bill at the same time every month or week so your clients expect it. This can be easier to accomplish when you use a platform that can automate bulk client billing.
- Send to the correct contact. The person you communicate with most often at your client’s office may not be the person who handles invoices. Instead of making assumptions about who to send invoices to, ensure that you ask for the appropriate billing contact during the new client discovery or onboarding phase.
- Use the same method or platform every time. If you started out sending invoices via email, continue doing so. Being consistent about your delivery method and payment processes can make things simple for invoice recipients. A client portal is one easy option for offering clients their entire billing history in one place in case they ever lose track or need to access historical invoices.
- Follow up. No matter how responsible your clients are, their inboxes are likely full, and they may sometimes simply forget to pay an invoice. Friendly reminders can help you avoid having to chase down outstanding payments once they’re officially overdue. They’re also an opportunity to demonstrate your high-quality customer service. Automate follow-ups at regular intervals — both in the form of thank-yous for a completed payment and reminders about an upcoming or overdue one.
BONUS TIP: Consider sending your invoices by text. A study by Square found that 70% of invoices sent by SMS were paid on the same day.
Learn How To Write an Invoice With Smart Tech
All of the above details become simpler with technology designed for professional services businesses. Basic invoice templates and standard accounting software aren’t quite adequate for communicating the services you provide.
You could drastically cut the time it takes to bill clients using Accelo.
Curious about how it feels to generate and send invoices with a client work management platform? Schedule a demo to see why integrating billing with the full client journey and employing automation to this mundane process is the way of the future.
Want to learn more?
Join the thousands of professionals that are running more successful businesses with Accelo
Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.