Sending an invoice is one of the last things a self-employed professional will do after the job has been completed. All too often they get sent with little thought or effort as the business owner moves on to the next job while they wait for payment.
Invoicing is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process that is regularly seen as an annoying formality. The customer has agreed to pay and the job has been done, invoicing is just boring paperwork, isn’t it?
Treating invoicing as an after thought and not taking advantage of the opportunity it presents, sees many self-employed professionals leaving money on the table. Here are 3 tips to help you leverage the work you are already doing to boost your income.
Leave a positive experience
First impressions last and so do last impressions. Your invoice may be the last contact you have with a customer and how it is received can have a lasting effect on the customers experience with you.
Luchins completed a study into the effects of impression management and discovered the importance of a last impression. The study showed “in the short term what you present first is important, but after a period of time it is what you presented last that is most important”.
Leaving a positive experience for a customer can be done in a variety of small ways, that when combined make a big difference. Here are a few examples:
- If you’re sending your invoices via email, personalise the message to speak to them
- Manage your customers expectations by explaining the job, the benefits and importantly the price before sending your invoice. Nothing upsets a customer more than unexpected charges
- Leave your customer with something they were not expecting. Even the smallest gesture can leave the biggest impact. Think of something with no cost or a low cost that would put a smile on your customers face.
Show up as a professional
Being professional throughout the job is important, but as we have just seen it is critical at the end of the job. Sending your invoice may be the last piece of contact you have with a customer and you should be showing up as a reliable professional.
There is invoicing and then there is a professional invoice, put yourself in your customers shoes and picture them receiving your invoice. Here are a few tips to ensure your invoices show up professionally:
- Make it clean, clear and simple
- Include your logo on the invoice
- Send your invoice ASAP
- Use an online invoicing system to keep organised
- Describe the work you have completed
- Make sure your payment details are clear.
Using an online system to keep your business organised is a must in today’s environment. Solo & Smart offers a free invoicing, quoting and receipt collection app that ticks all of these boxes and more. You can read more about its features here and download the app from the app store or google play.
Ask for a referral
Asking for a referral is the best form of word of mouth marketing and it won’t cost you a cent. The key here is to make sure you do it in a polite and friendly way to avoid making your customer uncomfortable.
Asking the question can be intimidating for a business owner, even if you have just delivered your customer with great value. Fortunately, it is more awkward in your head than it is in real life. Here are a few examples:
- Ask as the job is completed, if they are happy with the work, that is the best time
- Create a ‘refer a friend’ benefit for your customer, e.g. a discount on their next order
- Add your request to the comments on your invoice
- Leave the customer with promotional material e.g. magnets, pens etc.
Using these three tips will help to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity in your business. Best of all, it will boost your word of mouth marketing by ensuring your customers have a great lasting impression of you.