Correct invoicing in home improvement projects is among the most essential steps in keeping your account receivables organized. Whether you’re working with a company or you’re a freelancer, you probably know all too well how slow or late payments can derail existing contracts.
As a responsible contractor, you’ll want to minimize your cash issues as much as possible. You can do this by consistently providing a timely and detailed construction invoice.
Getting Your Payments On Time: The Power Of The Invoice
Invoices are documents that reflect the work that has been done by a contractor, plus the money that the client must pay them for a specific date. Basically, it’s a document that ensures every work done has been accounted for. Ultimately, this helps you get paid fully, and on time.
This is why you should prioritize your invoicing processes, especially if you’re a freelance contractor. Listed below are six tips that can help you maximize the power of your invoices:
1. Include All The Necessary Details On Your Invoice
The home improvement industry encompasses a lot of tasks. Hence, invoice contents will vary depending on your tasks or specialties. No matter what the case may be, make sure that you always have the following information:
- The word “invoice” in big and clear font at the top of the document
- Your name plus contact details
- Client’s name plus contact details
- Invoice date
- Invoice number
- Detailed breakdown of the tasks you rendered
- Costs or fees
- Total billable amount
- Payment terms and billing period
To prevent any conflicts with the bill, it’s advisable to have your signed contracts accessible to clarify the contents.
2. Document Everything That’s Involved In The Project
Every detail that you write on your invoice must have an accompanying record to validate it. This means that you must keep your timesheets and receipts organized. This ensures that you get rightfully paid for the work that you did and agreed with in the contract.
3. Format Your Invoices Properly
One probable reason why a client fails to pay on time is because of poorly-designed invoices. Fortunately, there are several contractor invoice templates that are available in various formats. Whether you prefer a Word, Excel, Google Docs, Google Sheets, or a PDF, there’s a template that can help you list down your work and track your time in a detailed and clear way.
These templates also consider that contractors perform different types of home improvement jobs. To ensure that your invoice details will be highlighted in the best way possible, make sure that you use the format that’s appropriate for your job.
4. Develop A Standard Billing Process
To establish consistency across the board, you’ll need to develop a strict standard for your billing process. This will eliminate the need to decide on what should be on an invoice, or how often it should be sent out, every time you need to create one.
It’s also advisable to let your clients know your billing method (electronic or paper), billing schedule (weekly, monthly, or when the project is done), and preferred payment method. This way, they can expect when you’ll be sending the invoice, making it easier for them to abide by your policies.
5. Establish Realistic Payment Terms
Most contractors set their receivables to be payable in 30 days, while some bigger companies can go longer for up to 120 days. In any case, home improvement projects typically aren’t cheap, that’s why contractors already understand that it may take some time before their clients can deliver the full payment.
Hence, it’s important to clarify your payment terms to your clients right from the start. There will be times when you’ll need to adjust, nonetheless, these terms will also help your client prioritize the allocation of their funds.
6. Set Payment Incentives Or Penalties
One of the most effective ways to prevent late payments is to offer incentives for early payments and enforce penalties for late ones.
All homeowners would want to save up on home improvement services if they can. Additionally, you wouldn’t want to constantly deal with clients who couldn’t pay on time. Since no one wants to deal with extra costs, this will inspire clients to save up way before their due time.
Mistakes To Avoid
You may already know what to do in order to maximize the power of your invoices, but you might still be doing some old practices that aren’t helping you move forward. If you want to establish yourself as a reliable contractor, make sure that you avoid doing the following invoicing mistakes:
1. Inconsistent Invoice Formats
There will be instances when you’ll be handling multiple projects at once. This may cause you to fill out your invoices inconsistently from project to project.
Not only is this a big time-waster, but it also risks making you look unprofessional to your customers. You can start correcting this by developing a template, not just in terms of format but also in terms of content.
2. Inconsistent Sending Of Invoices
Once you fulfill any part of a project contract, make sure that you bill it to your client immediately. This will keep the payment fresh in both you and your client’s mind. If your billing’s timing is inconsistent, this will not create a sense of urgency on the part of your clients.
3. Lack Of Payment Follow-up
Money tends to be a sensitive topic even for business owners whose careers depend on it. Clients may not be able to pay on time for a variety of reasons. No matter what those reasons are, contractors must always follow-up in a polite, business-like manner about their client’s payment obligations.
Invoicing your clients properly is especially helpful for home improvement businesses. This is because late payments from invoicing mistakes can delay the acquisition of supplies and, consequently, the completion of the project itself.
Keep Your Cash Flow Organized Through Systematic Invoicing
Reducing invoicing mistakes, combined with the invoicing tips listed above, should help you have a much better monetary relationship with your clients. Improving your invoice practices may seem like a trivial matter, but, over time, you’ll see how easier it will become for you and your accountant to add up all your business transactions.