If you work in an invoicing or billing capacity, getting professional, detailed payment notices into the hands of your clients is an important task. Leaving out key information when writing bills can result in delayed, late or nonpayment. This can be costly, time-consuming and frustrating, both for you and your company.
Create a Standardized Form
Make a billing template, either creating one from scratch or using one of any number of free, downloadable invoices available online. The form should include your company name, address and contact number, preferably with your letterhead or logo. Also include a space to fill in the customer’s name and contact information, an invoice number and purchase order number, the date of sale or service and the billing date. Include the name of the salesperson or account representative, if applicable, and indicate the product, service, quantity, per-item charge, tax, shipping and remittable total. Include a payment-due-by date, commonly 30 days from the invoice date.
Somewhere on the invoice, typically at the bottom and in small print, include your company’s terms for payment and describe action that results from late payment. For example, indicate acceptable forms of payment, like cash, check, credit card, PayPal, cashier’s check or money order. Outline whether partial payments are acceptable or if the full billing amount is due as a single payment. If you charge a late fee for accounts past due, write out these terms as well. For example, “a fee of 10 percent of the account balance will be assessed for every 30 days the account is past due. ”
If a customer doesn't pay a bill on time, write a follow-up billing notice. Revise the original billing statement, prominently mark it with a stamp that indicates the invoice is a second notice and include late fees, if applicable. You may opt to include a professionally written business letter with your follow-up invoice to reiterate payment terms and indicate what will happen if the customer doesn't pay the second invoice, such as suspension of the account or purchasing privileges. Provide a name and contact number for the customer to call with questions or concerns.
If an account becomes seriously delinquent and attempts to contact the customer directly are unsuccessful, send a collection notice. Include copies of invoices and correspondence sent to date and, if applicable, a copy of the customer’s contract or any paperwork signed by the customer. Outline the next step if the collection notice goes unheeded, such as turning the case over to a corporate collection agency, reporting the delinquent account to credit bureaus or referring the matter to your corporate attorney.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.