Are your invoicing habits giving clients a bad impression of your brand?
What you might consider to be standard invoicing procedures might actually be wearing a little thin with your favorite clients. You may send invoices daily or weekly, and consider it a rather routine and safe practice, when in actual fact you’re unknowingly undermining your reputation.
It’s easy to fall into bad habits, especially when the processes seem to work. Yet while payments arrive and clients continue to hire you, they might also be wishing you had more fluent invoicing and payment routines. And it’s these little problems that can add up over time and lead to dissatisfied clients.
Weaknesses in your procedures, such as invoicing, allow clients to make excuses and find reasons to replace you when something goes slightly amiss elsewhere in your work. You’re quickly seen as less professional than an alternative service provider they suddenly come across who just seems more organized and experienced.
More often than not, if you deliver great work to clients, they’ll forgive you for less than satisfactory procedures. However, the problem comes when they find someone equal to or better than you. If that competitor looks better organized, then you’re in trouble, even when the standard of work is equal.
It’s therefore imperative to ensure your invoicing habits are telling clients the right things about your brand.
The following are some common invoicing mistakes you might not realize are frustrating your clients.
Poor invoice design
What clients will assume: You don’t care about your own brand
Appearances matter in most things, especially when it comes to business. A cheap looking logo and a poorly designed invoice template will have a negative impact on how your clients perceive your brand.
You might deliver excellent work but a poor brand design will leave clients wondering whether they could find better services and products elsewhere.
On the other hand, a smart looking invoice style and overall brand identity will reassure your client that you’re one of the best and most experienced at what you do.
Lack of personalization
What clients will assume: You don’t care about them
Invoicing can be boring, it’s true. When you have a lot of clients, writing unique invoices can be a bit of a chore, even when you have automated many processes. It’s very tempting to send out a generic invoice with the most basic of information but this can leave a bad impression.
Your client will instinctively feel you don’t really care about them and just want to get paid and close the project. Even if this is true, it’s not something you should allow the client to sense.
Invoices are a great opportunity to further solidify your brand identity and cultivate a favorable impression. It’s very easy to make a client feel special simply by including relevant data applicable to their unique projects and also adding some friendly bespoke messages.
For example, if you know your client is interested in a particular topic related to the project just completed, you can include a link in the Notes section to a relevant article you know they’ll appreciate.
Lack of communication and planning
What clients will assume: You don’t care about the details
Some clients have particular billing cycles or requirements they need to adhere to when it comes to payments. If you simply send an invoice when it’s best for you, and not necessarily them, then this can cause some friction between you and your client.
Prior to invoicing – and indeed, before you begin working together – discuss with your client what will make their lives easier when it comes to making payments.
Maybe they will find it preferable to pay at the beginning of the month rather than at the end. Perhaps they need the invoice sent to more than one person. It’s your duty to find out before sending out that first deposit or final invoice.
Failure to include all relevant information
What clients will assume: You’re inexperienced
Clients trust experienced professionals. It’s obvious to the recipients of your invoice whether you are a novice or a pro. One thing that shouts novice is the failure to include all relevant information in their proper places.
Newbie freelancers and solopreneurs tend to forget things like invoice numbers, business addresses, tax IDs, deposit amounts, due dates, and a clearly written itemized breakdown of services or products rendered.
If you are new to invoicing and freelancing, then it’s important to give the impression of being in control. This means ensuring every required field is correctly and accurately filled out.
Few payment choices
What clients will assume: You’re behind the times
The benefit of advanced invoicing software like Invoice Ninja is the ability to provide your clients with multiple ways to make a payment. There’s nothing more frustrating for clients than trying to figure out a suitable way to pay an invoice with their preferred payment method.
When you repeatedly make payment difficult for clients, then you make it easier for them to find excuses to stop working with you. They’ll see you as behind-the-times and an inconvenience.
At Invoice Ninja we have integrated with every major payment gateway. This allows for your clients, anywhere in the world, to seamlessly make a payment directly via your cloud-based invoice. They can even pay with Bitcoin!
Early or late invoicing
What clients will assume: You’re not professional
The majority of businesses are accustomed to regular invoicing, both as senders and recipients. They are used to standard practices and will expect you to follow suit.
This usually means sending an invoice immediately prior to project commencement or immediately upon project completion. When you send too early or too late, you will come across as naïve, desperate, rude, and/or slovenly – all of which are hugely damaging to your reputation.
Send your invoice in accordance with agreed upon timeframes and you’ll look every part the experienced professional.
Delayed payment reminders
What clients will assume: You’re disorganized
Just like invoices should be sent on time, so should late payment reminders. Unfortunately, clients do sometimes forget to make a payment. When the due date has passed, then it’s time to send a polite payment reminder. This is something good clients will have no problem with. They will usually make an immediate payment together with their sincere apologies.
If you delay sending these reminders for days or weeks at a time, then you begin to look just as bad as your late paying client. You’ll come across as disorganized and/or timid.
Plus, if you’ve incorporated automatic late payment fees, then a lack of reminders can cause a lot of unnecessary friction and problems. It’s fair to give your late paying clients a reminder or two prior to late payment fees kicking in.
With Invoice Ninja, you can set up automatic late payment reminder emails, so you don’t have to keep following up manually.
Meeting your clients’ expectations
With a few simple modifications to your invoicing habits you can dramatically change the way your clients perceive your brand. Great work goes a long way to keeping clients happy but to be really indispensable, every single aspect of your business needs to be in line with your clients’ expectations. Invoicing is one of these aspects and is perhaps the most important of all.