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4 Strategies for Streamlining Client Invoices

Carl Coe
Posted by Carl Coe on Mar 28, 2022 12:53:16 PM

You have a lot of responsibilities when running your accounting or bookkeeping business. From working on client engagements to managing staff and drumming up new business, there is little time to focus on other tasks. Something as basic as preparing and sending invoices may seem like an afterthought. However, having a strong invoicing system is critical for your business. A poor process can affect your organization’s cash flows and finances, which are the lifeblood of your business.

This article will cover some strategies to make the invoicing process simple for both you and your clients.

 

“Brand” Your Invoices

We are all guilty of completing tasks quickly just to get them off our plates. When it comes to invoicing, sometimes we throw the client charges on a simple document and send it off. However, it is important for your firm’s brand to have all invoices look consistent.

For starters, your firm’s logo should be on all official documents – including invoices. This is the easiest way to increase brand recognition for your business. Colors, fonts, and sizes should be consistent as well. This is sometimes referred to as a “brand guide” or style.

In addition to the style being consistent, the wording should be standard as well. Naming conventions for each service should be the same across all clients and months for repetitive services. For example, if you perform monthly bookkeeping for a client, you want your invoices to have the same description each month. Having an invoice say “Accounting Services” one month and the next month say “February Bookkeeping” may look unprofessional.

Utilizing an Accounting Practice Management Software solution can help automate the invoicing process to take some of the time and energy out of preparing invoices. Rather than having to look at old invoices to get the description the same or copy-pasting invoices from other clients, the software will easily generate boilerplate templates consistent across all clients.

Build a Template for Each Type of Engagement

Chances are you perform a variety of engagements that each have different requirements for the invoices. For example, an audit invoice may have multiple line breakouts for each staff member, travel destination, etc. A monthly bookkeeping invoice may have only one line with a fixed price. Compilations, reviews, individual tax returns, corporate tax returns, and so on may each look a little different. Given this, it is wise (and a best practice for practice management) to set up templates for each type of engagement. This allows you to have a good, consistent starting point when creating a new invoice. Practice management software can assist with this setup.

Make it Easy for Your Clients and Yourself

Another advantage of automating your invoicing process is it makes it easier for your clients to receive, view, and pay their invoices. Instead of forcing clients to dig through old emails or log into a complex portal, simplify the process by allowing them to just click a couple of buttons. Not only does this make it easier for your clients, but it also speeds up the receivable process so that the cash comes into your business more quickly.

By using software to help automate the invoicing process, you will also reap the benefits of spending less time creating invoices and following up with clients. In a manual invoicing process, someone at the firm will typically create an invoice and print or mail it to the client. The client will then send a check or a wire. If they send a check, someone from the office needs to take the time to deposit the checks at a bank or via mobile device. When clients are late on their payments, someone needs to follow up with them via email or phone call. This adds up to tons of hours spent over time that could be spent on more valuable tasks.

In an automated invoicing process, invoices are created off templates and shared with the client via Secure File Sharing. Secure sharing uses encryption to ensure only the intended users can view the files. This allows the client to conveniently and safely view their invoice and submit payment. The payment is processed automatically and applied to the client’s open balance. In the event that a payment is overdue, the software automatically sends a reminder.

Use Software to Integrate Time Tracking

One of the toughest parts of invoicing for hourly projects is collecting all of the time and billing data, determining what can be billed to the client, and summarizing all this on the invoice. A tip to help ease this pain is to utilize software to pull data from time and billing directly into an invoice.
With a good time tracking module, the time and billing data will already be in good shape and organizable by client, billing code, etc. You will be able to select the applicable charges and pull them into the invoice. This makes the process quicker and more accurate.

Conclusion

Even though invoicing feels like repetitive, cumbersome work, it’s actually critical for your business. The more efficient your invoicing system is, the quicker you can get paid and the more you can focus on other aspects of your business. Follow the above tips to improve your invoicing process, with special emphasis placed on automating the steps via software. Doing so will allow your business to look more professional, improve your clients’ experience, and maximize your organization’s efficiency.

Topics: Practice Management


 

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