Once you’ve sold a product or provided service, it’s time for your business to get paid. But before that happens you’ll need to send your customer an invoice detailing the payment.
With invoicing software, creating and sending different types of invoices is ridiculously easy and quick to do. However, you can also choose to send invoices through other means such as snail mail, fax, or email.
In this guide, we’re going to cover all of these practices, along with the best option that saves your business time and money.
Read on to learn about:
- What Is an Invoice?
- What to Do Before Sending an Invoice?
- When to Issue an Invoice?
- How to Send An Invoice
- How to Handle Late Invoice Payments
- Send Invoices Automatically with Deskera
- 6+ Tips on How to Send an Invoice
- Send an Invoice FAQ
What Is an Invoice?
An invoice is a document that businesses issue to their clients, to request payment for products and services they’ve provided. For an invoice to be considered a legal document, it needs to include the following elements:
- The word “Invoice”
- Business and customer contact information
- An invoice number
- Billing date and the due date
- Name and description of products and services
- Cost per unit of product and the total amount
- Terms of payment
Want to learn more about making an invoice for your small business? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to make an invoice.
What to Do Before Sending an Invoice?
Before sending an invoice, always communicate purchase details to your customers. Nothing about the document should surprise or catch them off-guard.
The most important element to address is how much the invoice will be. Since pricing is usually fixed, this is easy to figure out. However, in cases where the client isn’t content with your business fees, you could try to reach a mutual deal by discussing possible reductions or discounts.
Then, set out the billing and due date so your client knows when they will receive the invoice, along with, how much time they have to pay you back. If you’re working on a project where the timing of delivery varies, just provide an estimate so they know what to expect.
Having these conversations early on will strengthen your relationship with your customers, and help you get paid on time.
If you want to learn the best way to create a sales invoice and get paid twice as fast, head over to our guide on sales invoices for small businesses.
When to Issue an Invoice?
Invoices are usually issued immediately after the service or order has been completed.
However, it’s best to follow-up with your customers and make sure they’re happy before sending out the invoice. Give them a phone call or send an email to see if there are any order issues.
But don’t wait more than 48 hours to request payment. At the end of the day, the sooner you ask, the sooner you’ll receive!
Now you’re probably wondering: is it ever acceptable to issue an invoice before the product or service has been provided?
Yes, there are specific business situations where an advance payment is necessary and normal. For instance, if you’re working on a very expensive or long project, you could ask for a deposit or set payment milestones. This helps improve cash flow, and also confirms that the client is trustworthy.
Another situation where an advance payment could be acceptable is if you’re running a small startup and really need the cash flow. But we don’t recommend doing this because it could lead to tension, complaints, and even damaged client relations.
How to Send an Invoice
Now that you know what payment details to discuss with your buyer and when to issue the completed invoice, it’s finally time to send it and get paid.
This can be done using three main methods. Let’s check them out one by one.
The most traditional way to send an invoice is physically, in person, via snail mail, or fax. You have to print out the document, put it in an envelope, stamp it, and drop it at a postal office or deliver it by hand.
This method is considered an antiquated way of doing business for many reasons.
For starters, the process is slow and time-consuming. Eventually, you would end up spending more time as the mailman, instead of managing your business.
Using snail mail is also more expensive than other methods, because of the extra cost of paper, ink, and postage. And wasting that much paper just to send an invoice is inconvenient for both your business and the environment.
Invoice Email - How to Write An Invoice Email
A common way to send an invoice is manually through an email.
Email invoicing allows the customer to receive the invoice instantly, which helps you get paid faster without any complications. This method is way more convenient than printing, but there are still a few important steps you have to undertake.
First things first, pay attention to your subject line. Make sure it includes the invoice number and your company name so that both you and the client can easily search for it in the future.
Then, attach your invoice in a pdf format that can’t be altered or scrambled. That way it’s harder for anyone trying to interfere with the document details by adding their own bank accounts to the payment information. Also, the uneditable format gives your customers a clean copy they can easily print out at any time.
Even though you already have all of the invoice details inside the attachment, sending out an invoice email without a body is a job half-done. Work on creating a short and professional message that covers the main invoice data, and gives thanks to the customer for choosing your business.
Here are two simple samples you can use as a starting point:
Invoice Email Example 1:
Hi [customer name],
Here’s invoice [invoice number], from [your business name], which is due on [due date].
Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions.
Invoice Email Example 2:
Hi [customer name]
Hope this email finds you well! Please find attached invoice [invoice number] for [product or service], due on [due date].
Thank you for doing business with us!
Once the body message is done, choose the recipient’s email address and send the invoice email out. And you’re done!
Now, although the process might not seem very long, having to repeat it for over 100+ clients can quickly become a headache.
That’s why most businesses use invoicing software to automate their invoicing process.
The best way to send an invoice is through invoicing software. It allows you to issue electronic invoices with just one simple click!
After filling out the invoice information on the software, all you have to do is press the built-in Send button and the email gets immediately delivered to the customer.
You can even set up recurring invoices, so they get auto-generated on a regular basis.
How to Handle Late Invoice Payments
No one likes chasing down payments. But busy days can cause even the most persistent customers to need a reminder that their invoice is overdue.
Here is the best course of action for managing late invoice payments:
1. First, double-check the invoice for any mistakes you might have made. It’s possible you could have sent an invoice to the wrong email address or department.
2. If everything’s clear on your part, follow-up with the customer. Send a follow-up invoice email or give them a phone call to figure out what’s going on.
You can use the following sample as an example of a follow-up email:
Hi [customer name],
I hope you’re well! We’ve yet to receive payment for invoice [invoice number] due on [due date]. Please let us know when you can look into the matter.
3. Still no answer? As a last resort, you could send debt collectors to their address, charge late payment fees, or even start legal procedures.
Send Invoices Automatically with Deskera
Use accounting software like Deskera to send out invoices with just one click.
All you have to do is pick your favorite invoice template, fill it in with the appropriate details, and press Share, to download, print, or email the invoice to your customer.
The software even allows you to choose any invoice format you want, PDF, DOC, or XLS.
And that’s not even the best part!
With Deskera you can also create recurring invoices, get reminders for overdue payments, request advance deposits, and include any additional charges & expenses.
Access the software anytime, anywhere, on your mobile, desktop, or tablet by downloading the Deskera mobile app!
Start your completely free trial right away, no credit card details required!
6+ Tips on How to Send an Invoice
- After issuing an invoice, give your customers a call to make sure that they received your fax or email.
- Use accounting software to automate recurring invoices and payment reminders.
- Consider early payment discounts and late fees to encourage clients to pay you back on time.
- Reach out to the customer one or two days before payment is due, to avoid late payments altogether. Send out a message along the lines of: “Please remember that invoice [invoice number] is due tomorrow/in two days. Make sure you have everything you need to process it.”
- Offer a range of payment options such as cash, check, credit card, bank transfers, online payments, mobile payments, etc.
- Don’t wait too long to send the invoice to your customer. The quicker the better!
Send an Invoice FAQ
What Happens If I Send an Incorrect Invoice?
After sending an incorrect invoice, you have to issue a cancellation invoice. Then, create a new correct invoice, and send it out to the client along with a short apology note.
The note can also include a brief explanation of the situation and the actions you took to fix it.
If you want to learn about more accounting mistakes and how to correct them, head over to our practical guide on common accounting errors.
How Much Does it Cost to Send an Invoice?
Experts say that the cost of using snail mail and paper-based invoices ranges between $12 to $30, per invoice.
Automated invoicing software, on the other hand, costs as little as $9 a month. If you send more than three invoices a month, using invoicing software is a must.
How Do I Make an Invoice Payment?
First, review the invoice details to make sure everything is accurate. Then, send the document to accounts payable for processing.
When it’s time to pay, choose the preferred payment method which works best for your business.
For more business tips on making invoice payments, check out our invoice payments guide.
And that’s a wrap! We hope our guide on how to send an invoice was helpful.
To recap, let’s go through the main points we’ve covered:
- Before sending out an invoice, communicate purchase details with your customers. Discuss the invoice total, billing date, and due date.
- Invoices are almost always issued after the service or product has been delivered. The sooner you do it, the better! Only consider in-advance payment requests for long or expensive projects.
- The three methods you can use to send an invoice are via snail mail, email, or invoicing software.
- Invoicing software is the fastest and most convenient way to issue an invoice.
- If an invoice is overdue, don’t hesitate to chase after payment with a follow-up email or phone call.