This scenario is repeated millions of times every day, without fail. A business sells services/products to a customer and both are thrilled with the exchange: the business with the sale, the customer with the quality of what they received.
The next step is a critical one and this is where thousands of small businesses fall down: they make the sale, then sit on the invoice for one, two or three weeks, in some instances, months, before posting the invoice to the customer. They fail to recognise the importance of invoicing on time. It’s like giving away money for free.
This time lag can have a negative impact on your cash flow. The ideal situation is where you have a surplus of income over expenditure – your profit. But if you delay issuing your invoices then you may well have more expenditure than income leading to issues meeting day-to-day expenses. This problem will be more acute in some industries over others, particularly those that have to buy raw materials on a daily/weekly basis.
What many business owners don’t realise is that the late issuing of invoices often causes havoc on the customer side. A timely invoice is a reminder to the customer that money is due and payment must be scheduled. A late invoice on the other hand may be queried or even worse, rejected and returned with request for proof of delivery, etc. This causes headaches for everyone concerned with the result that late invoices can give rise to poor customer relations. Mad really when we work so hard to win a customer, that we can then let them slip away for want of clicking a button.
There is no reason to be late with issuing invoices. Issuing invoices as soon as the work is completed/delivered must be a number one priority. Online accounts software such as Big Red Cloud’s is a great help here – record the sale, raise the invoice and click to send via email and/or print a copy to send via snail mail. Simple, easy and very effective.
Did you know that as of 1st January 2013, the Second Directive on VAT invoicing, brought into EU-wide law a directive that treats paper and electronic invoices equally. There is no longer any legal obstacle to any customer in the EU refusing to accept or recognise invoices via email.
So, ‘the importance of invoicing on time,’ make it a mantra for your accounts department. It’s good for your cash flow and as we’ve seen above, it’s also good for customer relations.