right time to invoice

The Right Time to Invoice Clients: Before Or After The Job?

“When should you send an invoice to your clients?” Just when you thought invoicing couldn’t get any more complicated, now you need to determine when is the right time to invoice your clients. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single conclusive answer to this simple question. 

There are a lot of considerations when it comes to sending an invoice to clients. On the one hand, you might want to invoice your customers as soon as the job is done to get paid quickly and keep your payroll schedule on track. But on the other hand, what if the job requires you to collect payment from your customer upfront? 

There are certainly different challenges to invoicing. So when is the right time to invoice – before or after the job? Continue reading to find out!

What is an Invoice?

You may have heard it countless times before, but what exactly is an invoice? An invoice is a document that itemizes a business’s products or services and the corresponding prices. This document also serves as a request for payment from the customer. 

Invoicing can be done in various ways – manually, online, or through billing software. If you’re just starting, you might be wondering when is the right time to invoice your clients.

Considerations when Deciding when to Send an Invoice

There are a few key things you’ll need to consider when trying to determine when is the right time to invoice. 

Payment Terms

The first thing you should consider is your payment terms. Your payment terms are the conditions under which you expect to be paid by your customer. For example, will they be paid immediately upon receipt of the invoice? Or do you give them a 30-day  grace period? 

When Do You Need It?

You should also think about when you need the money. For example, do you need to get paid right away to cover the cost of materials or supplies? Or can you wait a few weeks or even a month? 

Type of Job

Another thing to consider is the type of work you’re doing. For example, is it a one-time project or an ongoing job? If it’s a one-time project, then it might make more sense to invoice your customer after the job is completed. But if it’s an ongoing job, you might want to send invoices regularly (e.g., monthly) to stay on top of your cash flow.

Sending An Invoice After Completing the Job

Sending your invoice after job completion is the most common method service businesses use. This is because most consumers expect to make payment after the job is complete, similar to how they pay after ordering a meal or after receiving the goods that they ordered from the store. 

4 Options for Invoicing After the Job

There are four options for invoicing after the job:

  • Invoicing on the spot:  This is when you invoice your customer immediately after the job is completed. This can be done using a mobile invoicing app or emailing/texting the invoice to the customer.
  • Invoicing within 48 hours of finishing the job: This is when you send the invoice to your customer within two days of completing the job. You can do this by mailing the invoice, emailing it, or using a mobile invoicing app.
  • Batch invoicing:  This is when you wait until you’ve completed a few jobs before sending out a batch of invoices all at once. This can be done weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
  • Monthly invoicing: This is when you send an invoice to your customer at the end of each month for the work completed for that period.

Advantages of Invoicing After the Job is Completed

There are a few advantages to invoicing your customer after completing the job:

  1. You can make sure that the work is done to your customer’s satisfaction before sending them an invoice. This way, you can avoid any potential disputes or payment issues.
  2. You can also take your time to prepare a detailed and accurate invoice. This is especially helpful if you’re doing a large project with many different line items. 
  3. You might also be able to get better payment terms this way. For example, you could offer a discount for early payment if your customer pays within 14 days instead of the standard 30 days. 
  4. You can avoid the hassle of making adjustments to your invoice if the scope of work changes after you’ve started.

Sending An Invoice Before the Job is Complete

Sending an invoice after completing the job might seem logical to get paid. However, there are scenarios when it makes sense to bill your customers before starting the work. This type of invoicing is usually referred to as prepayment or requesting a deposit. With that said, when should you invoice before a job is complete?

When to Invoice Your Customers Before Job Completion?

Here are some notable scenarios where you can warrant a prepayment from your customers:

  • When the job requires a deposit for significant materials or equipment. You can request payment up front if the job requires a deposit for materials or equipment. This way, you can avoid paying out-of-pocket. 
  • When you’re working with a new customer: If you’re working with a new customer, then you can request a deposit to mitigate the risk of them not paying you for the work. 
  • When the job is time-sensitive: If the job is time-sensitive, you might want to invoice your customer upfront to start working on the project right away. 
  • When the job is large-scale:  If the job is for a commercial contract, then you might want to request partial payment upfront. This way, you can offset the risk of the customer not paying you in full or at all. 
  • The client is known to delay payment: If you’re doing business with a customer who has a history of delaying payment, then you can request a deposit to ensure that they will pay you on time.
  • You badly need the cash flow: finally, if your business is just starting out or experiencing cash flow issues, you can request a deposit to help with your short-term cash needs. 

Advantages of Invoicing Before the Job is Completed

There are also certain advantages to invoicing your customers before completing the job. Here are a few notable benefits:

  1. You can get paid upfront, which can help cover the cost of supplies or materials. 
  2. You can stay on top of your cash flow and keep your payroll schedule on track. 
  3. You might be able to avoid having to chase down payments from customers who are slow to pay. 
  4. You can avoid the hassle of making adjustments to your invoice if the scope of work changes after you’ve started. 
  5. You can offer a discount for early payment, which could incentivize your customers to pay sooner. 

How to Make Invoicing Before a Job More Successful

Prepayment has a lot of risks that come with it. That’s why we’ve listed a few tips to help mitigate these risks and make it more successful for you:

  • Always communicate with your customer. Make sure they fully understand why you’re billing them upfront and how much they will pay you before you begin the job.
  • Create a detailed professional quote that will clearly explain the scope of work, the price, and when you expect to be paid. If you’re billing a new customer, including a payment schedule in the quote might be helpful. 
  • If you’re requesting a deposit for materials or equipment needed for the project, make sure you add the deposit amount directly to the quote. The standard is usually a 15 to 20 percent deposit.
  • Make sure your clients have an easy and convenient way to pre-pay you.
  • Offer a discount for clients who will pay in full upfront. You can offer a 5 to 10 percent discount on their total payment.

Best Practices to Help You Get Paid

Whether you’re invoicing your clients before or after completing the job, it’s important to know some golden rules that you should always follow:

  • Create a detailed professional quotation so that your clients will understand what they are paying for.
  • Make sure the payment terms and methods are clear and convenient.
  • Make sure your clients understand their payment cycle, specifically when it’s time to pay you.
  • Offer multiple payment options as you can; prioritize online and credit card payments for maximum convenience.
  • Attach notes and images to your invoices to get a good impression from your clients.
  • Always send a polite follow-up thank you message once you receive payment from your.
  • Use invoice software to make invoicing easier for you.

Why Use ReliaBills

Speaking of that last bit, we want to emphasize the significance of using invoicing software by introducing our very own ReliaBills. If you’re still undecided on whether or not you should invest in invoicing software, ReliaBills might finally make up your mind.

ReliaBills is an online invoicing and payment processing system that provides smart and convenient solutions for businesses of all sizes. With our software, you can easily manage and automate your invoicing process from start to finish. 

ReliaBills offers the following key services:

  • Invoicing: create a professional-looking invoice and make your brand stand out from the crowd. With ReliaBills, you have access to all the tools you need to create a unique invoice template for your business.
  • Recurring Billing:  Set up recurring invoices for your clients and get paid on time, every time. With recurring billing, you’ll be able to notify your clients every time, making sure that they will always know when they need to pay you.
  • Automated Payment Processing: Enroll your clients in AutoPay and never have to worry about when they will pay you again. Once enrolled, you can automatically bill and collect payment from your customers’ accounts.
  • Customer Data Management: Keep track of your customer data and invoicing history in one place. With our software, you’ll be able to update and manage your customer information easily.
  • Relevant Reporting: ReliaBills provides relevant reporting with its intuitive dashboards, timely email alerts, and scheduled reports that you can export for further analysis. With the data you get, you will always know who owes you money.
  • And Much More!

If you’re looking for invoicing software to make your life easier, look no further than ReliaBills. With our convenient online platform, you can easily manage your invoicing process from start to finish. Sign up now and upgrade your plan to ReliaBIlls PLUS for even more convenience!

Wrapping Up

Some businesses always invoice after the job, while some invoice beforehand. The right way to send an invoice is all about the timing that makes sense for you and your customers. So make sure you find the right time to invoice for your case, and don’t be afraid to test the waters until you find the right invoicing strategy. Good luck!

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