To put it simply, an invoice is a bill. You fulfill your customer’s need with a product or a service and you present him/her with an invoice to receive payment. Immediate payment of invoices is not the norm; it generally takes about 30 – 60 days for an invoice to be paid. If a customer receives an incomplete invoice or if the details on the invoice are incorrect, payment gets delayed. It is therefore your responsibility to ensure that the invoice is complete and correct so as to not delay payments further. Here are some details you need to remember while sending an invoice:
Invoice number: This is a very important detail both for you and your customer. It helps with your bookkeeping while it helps your customer find the invoice easily when needed. You could also include the PO number if known.
Your details: Always ensure that your contact information is included prominently. Generally, in many organizations, the employee who orders for the service is different from the one who pays for it. If they have any questions, they should be able to reach you. You could also brand the invoice with your logo.
Customer’s details: Customer information is just as important; after all, you are addressing it to them. If you know the name of the employee, it is a good practice to include that as well.
Dates: Include both the date you send the invoice and the date it is due. This will create a sense of urgency for the customer. You could also include a sweetener to create this urgency – say x% off if paid in y days.
Pricing & quantity: This is the most important detail that has to be absolutely accurate. Your client might forgive you if you made some typos in the earlier details but if any pricing or quantity details go wrong, he will just send it back for correction or worse, peg you for a fraud and report you to the authorities. Double-check to make sure that every detail is right. Provide descriptions of the products/services and break the prices down clearly. You should also clearly show taxes or discounts.
Apart from this, other necessary details include payment terms and options. Finally, consider adding a thank you note to show the customer that you care. If all this sounds hard to remember, consider using an online invoicing software solution. It ensures that all essential details are furnished before the invoice can be sent.