Handyman Invoicing – Everything You Need to Know
Handyman invoicing is one of the most important tasks that need some improvement in many small businesses, Too often, because it’s a back-office task – and you may not even have a back-office – things fall between the cracks and invoicing doesn’t happen properly.
We hope to give a few tips here on best practices for one of the most important functions that small handyman business owners and operators have to perform. But this can have serious consequences, because it has a direct influence on your business in the form of cash flow, which after all is the life-blood of any business.
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We will try to collect a few ideas that you can use to improve how you are producing and processing your handyman business invoices.
Firstly, what is an invoice? It is a commercial document specifying services you’ve provided to a customer and the payments they owe you for the service. Creating and distributing invoices is an essential part of any business and absolutely vital for independent handymen.
What it means is no invoice, no payment. No payment, no cash flow, and in the end no business.
If you are unsure about how to begin creating your very own invoice for your handyman business and or services, simply follow our guide below on what you need to include.
The internet with a simple Google search can bring up hundreds of small business invoicing solutions, from simple templates free-of-charge through to complete invoicing software packages that do the whole job.
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There are even numerous invoice apps that allow you to create, save and send invoices directly from your smartphone.
Every business needs to maximize its cash flow. Having the right handyman invoicing process is the key for this. In your handyman or home services business, if you’re scribbling notes to organize your invoicing and your cash flow, then you’re making things more difficult than they should be.
And on the subject of cash flow, have you given enough thought to protecting yourself on the other points of disputes that can arise between you and your customers.
Too often, because your handyman job means you are physically active in customer’s homes and worksites, accidents can happen and an unhappy client sues you for damages either to themselves or to their property. Protect yourself by having the right amount and kind of insurance. We describe all the details of what you should have here.
The proper first step to get your handyman invoicing running professionally and smoothly is to organize an efficient system that tracks your activities from the moment you accept work from a customer. One of the most common sources of late payments is when there is a discrepancy between your quote and your invoice.
Customers may not have understood exactly what the work is going to cost, how you calculate, and when you expect them to pay. You can remove any doubt if you started off with a hard-copy quote that sets out in detail exactly what the customer is going to be billed for, and what your terms for settlement are.
Once you have established a routine for setting the right expectations for when, when and how much you are going to be invoicing your customers for, here are some of the more important features that you should include:
Get your information right
There are many small computer applications or mobile phone apps that can produce top-quality invoices. Obviously, just pumping out a great-looking piece of paper is not at all a complete solution. Getting the complete information together is the most important step.
Clearly mark your handyman invoice
By putting your name, your business name, your address and your contact information like a mobile number, email address or website, your customer can easily recognise who sent the invoice and how to contact you if they need to.
Make sure your customers know it’s an invoice they’re receiving. Give your invoice a unique identification number. This is for your records and also for follow-ups with your customers. You should also have a way to look up some reference to all the invoices you’ve raised to make sure you don’t create duplicates.
Clearly, having a proper handyman invoicing system makes all of this simple and automatic.
Add your customer’s company name and address, including a contact’s name so it reaches the right person
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Describe the goods or services you’re charging for. These descriptions should be detailed enough for your customers to know what it is they’re paying for. A reference to the agreement or order that kicked-off this work should be displayed clearly.
Don’t forget the dates – if there was staged work where you are charging according to the time spent, then mention this clearly.
If you’ve agreed a discount with your customer, note this down on the invoice and subtract it from the total cost.
If applicable, include and local, state and federal taxes too.
Very important – mention payment terms you agreed to when taking the order. If you expect to be paid in a specific time-frame or a special way, state it again.
There’s nothing much wrong with repeating details, but leaving something out can lead to a delay or dispute with your customers.
State exactly how your customer should make the payment. If you want the customer to make payment directly into your bank account, give the full account identifying numbers.
How to send an invoice.
Snail-mail and hand delivery are out of fashion. Today, electronic mail is faster, more secure, and you can track the progress. The quickest and easiest way to send your invoices is by email.
You can attach your invoice in an un-editable PDF format so as to prevent tampering, and include a clear, brief description of your business and invoice in the subject line and body of the email.
Different customers and clients might have different processes on receiving invoices. It might be a good idea to find out whether there’s certain information to include in the subject line that’ll help you get paid faster.
Any delays beyond the expected receipt should lead to a phone call to check if they’ve received it – and if the invoice is missing, you can suggest that you will resend the invoice for immediate payment .
Of course, there’s software that can take the hassle out of sending invoices. It can run on a wide range of computers as well as on mobile phones.
What about invoice software?
It’s even possible to piggy-back onto your bank’s own services. Some digital-first and mobile-only banks have introduced applications that can create and chase invoices for you. Have a look at your bank’s offerings, or hunt around on the internet for a bank that does offer this.
Some of the most popular word processing and spreadsheet programs, such as Word and Excel on Windows, and Google Docs on the cloud, come with built-in templates that let you produce professional invoices in a single action. If a full invoicing package is more than you need, then this is a great alternative.
The advantages of these basic packages are that you get excellent and professional-looking invoices at no cost. You can also directly integrate into your email system so that the invoices can be sent out immediately and you have prepared them with no further work.
All of these options let you output the invoice as a read-only PDF file, giving you the assurance that the information is secure and cannot be tampered with.
Probably the only negative is that these invoices are all individual files and aren’t organized in any particular way, unless you do it yourself.
If you need to go backward in time to locate a specific invoice, you either need to know exactly how the Word, Excel or Google Docs application named it when it was created and where it stored it, or you need to keep some manual record in a notebook or computer file that you can look up.
In the next part, we can tell you a bit more about how full invoicing applications that run on a computer or smartphone work, and the advantages over the simple Windows and Google options.
What to look for in invoice packages?
Usually, invoicing is one of the components of a basic accounting package, which means that your ordering, invoicing, account management and cash-flow management is all handled as a single process. This makes the management of your business much simpler and more professional.
An invoice application is a standardized program that you can use to bill your customer for a job or service. It lets you fill in blank fields describing the services your company provided, your client’s details, how much is due, and when, and how your customer is going to pay.
The invoice should then create an account receivable entry, which you need for accounting and tax purposes. You can then keep track of them on your computer to chase down payments.
Such a system will help keep you organized and will be useful if you ever get audited or have to deal with legal issues. Proper invoices are an absolute must if you want to keep your bookkeeping in order and, of course, get paid.
Best practices in invoicing
Match the details of your invoice to your quote
Starting any work for a customer with an agreed quote is sound business proactive. When it comes time to bill for the work done, you should make sure that what is on the invoice accurately matches both the details of the quote, and the work performed and material you are charging for. That way, disputes are minimized and cash-flow is smooth.
Bill separately for labor and materials
In preparing a quote you may have offered your client a total cost for the job, or an hourly rate for work performed along with cost-of-materials. In the latter kind of invoice, you should include details line-by-line rather than lumping “materials” into one charge.
To help your customers easily understand exactly what work you completed and are thus billing for, make sure to break it all down job by job. The more information you can include the less questioning you’re likely to get from your customer.
Every service item you include should be matched with a corresponding price so that your customer can see the breakdown of the overall invoice amount.
Use this opportunity to also indicate the prices of materials you’re charging in the invoice as well.
Write down exactly what work you are charging for. Example – if it’s an installation, state what you items supplied, what it was needed for, where and when you installed it, and any other relevant information. When appropriate, specify money-back guarantees, or any service warranty disclaimer.
Specify payment terms and options
Make payment deadlines clear. The last thing you want is a dispute with a customer because you weren’t clear in the invoice what your expectations were. To help avoid this situation, make sure to include exactly what your terms are.
Include what methods of payment you accept, like e-payments, cash, check, or credit card. State clearly the way they can pay you – to pay online through some app like PayPal, or to pay directly to you or your employees. Try to avoid a method that ends up as a “check is in the mail” answer when you are chasing down overdue payments.
Include your penalty terms and any late fees or penalty disclaimers.
Keep the total amount the customer has to pay you clear and easy to see. This will make their payment process less of a hassle and significantly increases the likelihood of you getting paid on time.
Say thank you
Invoices can seem impersonal, but they don’t have to be. It’s great to encourage your clients to refer you on to new potential customers, or call you in again for more work. Ask your client some activity on social media to raise your profile.
The right software makes invoicing easier
The best invoicing applications will let you work wherever you are, to manage and track your billing and related activity. You need to choose a package that will create orders, quotes and invoices easily and quickly. You need to be able to email or fax directly to customers for faster payment. The application must also keep track of overdue accounts, suppliers bills, utility accounts and more – anything related to the business operations.
Do some positive marketing
Finally, you can treat your invoices as a marketing tool. You can add some notes that can be very handy to drum up more business. You can write a thank you message for choosing your services, ask for referrals or a review online.
Invoicing can be thought of as a nuisance because it takes you away from productive work, but it really is a necessary function, and there really are simple and affordable options that turn it into an automatic process. It certainly is worth your while investigating what’s out there.