Your Format For Billing Clients Professionally and Effectively
- In order to bill clients professionally, be organized with your invoicing, communicate what you’re invoicing exactly, and use tools that make the process intuitive.
- There are several approaches to client billing, for instance per-project, recurring, time-based, value-based, and milestone-based.
- Using an invoicing software has many advantages compared to relying on Microsoft Word templates, for instance tracking payments automatically.
No one likes chasing clients for payments. It’s time-consuming, frustrating, and can feel a bit awkward. But at the same time, timely payments are the lifeblood of agencies and B2B service businesses.
If you want to get paid on time, and keep your clients happy, then you need to have an effective billing process and billing software such as Service Provider Pro in place. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to billing your client, but there are some key things to consider that will help you create a system that works for you and your business.
The highlights of this blog post:
the right format for billing a client
the different types of client billing processes you can use
how to create and send an invoice to a client
when to bill your clients
The fundamentals of client billing
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to bill your clients, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.
Here are some of the key things you need to keep in mind when it comes to client billing.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to have all of your ducks in a row before you start billing your clients. That means having a clear understanding of what work has been done, what still needs to be done, and what deliverables are associated with each project.
If you’re not organized, then it will be very difficult to keep track of what needs to be invoiced and when. This can lead to delays in payments, and can even result in overcharging or undercharging your clients.
With the productized business model, the advantage is that your deliverables are clear upfront. Clients know exactly what they’re getting based on your pricing page and a detailed explanation of your deliverables.
Communication is key when it comes to billing your clients. You need to keep them in the loop about what work has been done, what’s still outstanding, and when they can expect to receive an invoice.
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If there are any changes to the scope of work or the deliverables, then you also need to communicate these changes to the client so that they are aware of them and can approve them (if necessary).
Billing is not a one-size-fits-all process. What works for one client might not work for another. You need to be flexible and adaptable in your approach, and be willing to try different things until you find what works best for each individual client.
Above all else, you need to be professional when billing your clients. This means being polite, prompt, and organized in your communications. It also means being transparent about your fees and charges, and not trying to hide anything.
This is especially important if you’re a consultant. It’s not very easy to communicate your value to clients if your invoice just lists one line item called “consulting services.” Split your work up into multiple stages and make it clear what the client is actually paying for.
Use the right tools
There are a number of great tools out there that can help you with client billing. From client invoicing software to time tracking apps, there are plenty of options to choose from.
For example, with SPP, you can host intuitive checkouts complete with intake and order forms at any subdomain on your website. That means you can create a payment system that’s easy for clients to navigate and gets you paid on time. And the best of all, no more chasing clients for payment.
The important thing is to find the right tool for your needs. There’s no point in trying to integrate payments into a website without developer knowledge. Instead, use software that natively supports your payment gateway of choice.
Types of client billing processes
There are a few different approaches you can take when billing your clients. The key is to find the right approach for your business, and for each individual client. Here are some of the most common types of client billing processes.
1) Per-project billing
With per-project billing, you bill your client for each project or engagement separately. This is a good option if you have clearly defined projects with well-defined deliverables.
2) Recurring billing
With recurring billing, you bill your client a fixed monthly fee in exchange for a certain amount of work to be done each month. This is a good option if you have ongoing projects or if you need to guarantee a certain amount of income each month.
SPP works especially well for agencies with recurring billing models. Agencies can set variable billing frequencies, trial prices and durations, setup fees, and more to streamline their recurring billing process.
3) Time-based billing
With time-based billing, you bill your client for the actual time you spend working on a project. This is a good option if you have projects that are open-ended or if you need to track your time for billing purposes.
4) Value-based billing
With value-based billing, you bill your client based on the value of the work you do, rather than the time it takes you to do it. This is a good option if you feel confident in your ability to deliver results and want to be paid based on the results you achieve.
5) Milestone-based billing
With milestone-based billing, you bill your client for each milestone or deliverable that is completed. This is a good option if you have well-defined projects with clearly defined milestones.
How to create and send an invoice to clients
Once you’ve decided on the right billing approach for your business, it’s time to create and send invoices to your clients.
There are a few different ways you can do this.
1) Use a billing and invoicing software
There are a number of invoicing software options available, both online and offline. This is the easiest way to create and send invoices, and it’s also the most professional-looking option.
With SPP, invoices are automatically generated for every payment a client makes—whether they’re paying for an order in full or on a milestone basis. Plus, these invoices can be accessed through their client personal portal. No more sifting through emails.
You can also manually create invoices if you need to charge a client for work outside of your productized services, for one-off projects, or other scenarios.
2) Use a word processor or spreadsheet program
If you don’t want to use dedicated invoicing software, you can always create your invoices using a word processor or spreadsheet program like Microsoft Word or Excel. This is a more DIY approach, but it’s still perfectly acceptable (and it’s usually free!).
Many word processors and spreadsheet programs have templates such as these for Microsoft Word/Excel that you can use to get started. Alternatively, you can create your own invoice template from scratch.
3) Use an online invoicing service
There are a number of online invoicing services that allow you to create and send invoices without having to download or install any software. This is a good option if you want the convenience of online invoicing but don’t want to pay for dedicated software. When choosing the service, keep in mind that it should be compatible with the tax software for small business you’re already using.
4) Hire a virtual assistant or freelancer
If you don’t have the time or inclination to create and send your own invoices, you can always hire a virtual assistant or freelancer to do it for you. This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the most hands-off approach.
What to include in your invoice
No matter which method you choose to create and send your invoices, there are a few key things that you should always include:
Contact information: Make sure you include your business name, business address, tax registration number, phone number, and email address on your invoice. If you have a tax ID (or VAT ID), it has to be on the invoice as well.
Client’s contact information: Include your client’s name, business name, and contact information, as well as their tax identification number (if available).
Invoice issue date: Be sure to include the date the invoice was issued. This will ensure that your client knows when the invoice was issued and can easily keep track of when payments are due.
Invoice due date: Also include the due date of the invoice. This will ensure that your client knows when the invoice is due and can easily make arrangements to pay you in a timely manner.
Services provided description: Be sure to include a detailed description of the services you provided on your invoice. This will ensure that your client knows what they’re being charged for and can easily keep track of their expenses.
Costs: Include the cost of each service along with the total order cost on your invoice. This will ensure that your client knows how much they’re being charged for each service and how much is due. Also, be sure to include any discounts!
Payment terms and conditions: Include your payment terms and conditions on your invoice so that your client knows how you expect to be paid and can make arrangements to pay you accordingly.
Invoice number: Include a unique invoice number with every invoice you send to help you and your client reference and find invoices more easily.
Payment link or bank details: If you’re sending invoices electronically, be sure to include a payment link or bank details. This will allow your clients to easily pay their invoices online or through their bank, and can help you get paid faster.
Much of the client information listed above will be collected when a client places an order using an order form. It will be saved on the customer profile and is available going forward for manual invoice creation, as well as an easy checkout with pre-filled billing details.
This might be a spreadsheet, fillable client template, or customer portal like SPP.
When to bill your clients (and when to remind them)
Billing your clients can be a tricky business. On one hand, you don’t want to seem like you’re constantly chasing after money; on the other hand, you don’t want to let too much time pass before billing, or else you run the risk of not getting paid at all.
So… when is the right time to bill your clients?
The answer, of course, depends on the situation. If you’re working with a client on a long-term project, it’s probably best to break up the payments into milestones and bill them accordingly. This way, you’ll get paid for your work as you complete it, and your client won’t have to worry about shelling out a large sum of money all at once.
If you’re working with a client on a shorter-term project, however, it’s probably best to bill them when the project is completed. This way, they’ll have a chance to review your work and make sure that they’re happy with it before they have to pay for it.
No matter what, though, it’s always a good idea to include a payment due date on your invoices. This will remind your clients that they need to pay you, and will give them a deadline to work with.
What about payment reminders?
And if your client still hasn’t paid by the due date?
Don’t be afraid to send a client payment reminder email. Just be sure not to be too pushy—you don’t want to alienate your client or damage your relationship.
If you’re using Service Provider Pro, you don’t have to worry about reminders. You can decide how many daily reminders you want to send clients automatically for unpaid invoices.
Streamline your client billing process
In short, billing your clients doesn’t have to be complicated. Armed with the right tools, the process can be almost entirely automated.
With SPP, you can easily create and send invoices, track payments, and send reminders—all with just a few clicks. Plus, our payment processing system makes it easy for your clients to pay you, no matter where they are in the world.