Sending Invoices – ensure invoice terms are correct and always phone ahead

Despite the mountainous levels of outstanding overdue invoices owed to UK SME’s which in turn is causing extensive late payment problems and cash flow difficulties it is astounding how many SME’s don’t adhere to even the most basic of checks and measures when it comes to invoicing their customers.

No wonder then that the late payment burden to SME’s has now ballooned to over £24bn with more than half of all UK small to medium sized businesses currently reporting a late payment issue with their customers.

Here are some hints and tips, plus an invoice template to assist with some of the basics:

(1) Expressly state the invoice terms e.g. 30 days from date of invoice and include the due date for payment on the invoice, to avoid any possible confusion.

(2) Check that all relevant customer info is correct so that again there is no confusion, or issue giving rise to delay payment. Ensure the customers’ address, company name, company number and contact points are correct. Don’t just assume the address is their trading address or registered office. Always check.

(3) Make sure your invoices state where payment/funds are to be sent to. This should include any bank details and reference numbers if you want to be paid electronically.

(4) Ensure your company name, registered office and registered company number are all shown and that your contact details are clearly visible in case there are any disputes or queries. If applicable make sure that your VAT number is clearly shown and any VAT amount is separated out with the total payable shown clearly.

(5) Ensure that your invoices have a clear description of the goods or services that have been provided, and that the date of delivery and/or order date is clearly stated.

(6) It may sound silly (you’d be surprised), but have the goods or services actually been supplied in full as per the invoice description?

(7) Send the invoice by some form of registered post so that you can prove postage. Or send by normal post and email.

(8) Phone ahead soon after the invoice would have been received by your customer and confirm that no problems are evident and that payment will be made on the due date.

Whilst a good invoice template won’t magically get payment from customers who can’t pay on time or worse still, those who won’t pay on time, or at all, it will help a business structure the invoice more efficiently in order to let customers know, how much the invoice is for, and when it is due.

Download the Free Invoice-Template as a Word Doc you can edit

As stated, the invoice template will help you inform your customers how to pay, how much to pay and when to pay. These three simple yet often underused elements in business invoices will help you avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.

If you offer your customers 30,60 or even 90 day invoice terms, sadly the invoice template is not going to get you the invoice payment any sooner. If then, you want to unlock the value in your customer invoices and get your money (typically up to 80-90% of the value) advanced and in your bank account within 48 hours of issue, OR 28,58 and 88 days earlier than the customer will be paying, then give us a call and we can discuss a range of invoice finance options with you such as factoring or invoice discounting

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