How to Write an Invoice: 7 Easy Steps to Look Professional and Get Paid Faster
Are your invoices letting you down? Learn how to write and send a simple, professional invoice so you can spend less time on billing, build trust with your customers, and get paid faster.
Creating invoices for your service business isn’t complicated, but leaving out essential information can get messy: it can lead to disputes or late payments, and make you look unprofessional to your customers.
After all, your invoices are a direct representation of your business and your professionalism, so you have to make them work for you, not against you.
When you learn how to make a proper invoice and start sending invoices that reflect who you are as an entrepreneur, you build trust with customers. You also encourage them to pay in full, on time. Bonus!
In this article we’ll go over what to include on an invoice, how to make an invoice, our advice on how and when to send a bill, and the best practices you need to know to save you time and money.
Pro Tip: If you use invoicing software, you’ll also show prospective clients that you run a modern and professional business, and that you’re easy to work with.
Table of contents:
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What is an invoice?
An invoice is a bill sent to your customers after you complete a job or service visit. The invoice establishes what services you or your company provided, how much those services cost, how much is due and when, and how your customer can pay you. Invoices are commonly sent via email or text message, and they can also be delivered in person.
From a legal perspective, invoices create an account receivable. That means, they are a legally enforceable claim for payment for services rendered or goods provided.
What should an invoice include?
Go through this checklist to make sure you have the invoice elements you need before you write a bill and invoice your customer:
- Your company name, logo, and contact information
- A clear title with the word ‘Invoice’
- Invoice issue date and payment due date
- Invoice number
- Name and address of customer
- Description of services rendered
- Subtotal for each service (including rate, amount, and/or quantity used)
- Total amount due, including taxes and discounts
- Payment terms
- A personal note
All of this information should be easily on hand. If your customer and job details are scattered, look into using client management software (CRM) to keep everything organized and in one place to make invoicing even easier.
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How to make an invoice
1. Create a professional layout
A professional-looking invoice builds trust with your clients and ensures that they will pay you on time. Your business name or logo should be in a large font at the top of the page, either centered or left-aligned.
If you add your business logo to your invoice, you’re 3 times more likely to get paid!
Next, be sure to include the word “Invoice” near the top of the page. This step seems simple, but it’s important for your customers to recognize the invoice as soon as they receive it so they can give it the attention it deserves.
Pro Tip: When you use invoicing software like Jobber, you can easily add your brand colors to your invoice layout to make it more memorable to clients and to help establish your brand.
2. Include company and customer information
Include your business address, phone number, and email immediately below your business name in a smaller font on your business invoice. Customers should be able to easily contact you if they have questions or concerns, and as a bonus, they can refer you to friends if they’re happy with the service!
Next, include the recipient (your client’s) name and address to make sure it reaches the right person. Include the service address on the bill too, if it’s different from their mailing address.
3. Add an invoice number, invoice date, and due date
The three most important numbers on an invoice (after the amount due) are the invoice number, invoice date, and due date.
The invoice number keeps your records organized, especially when tax time rolls around. The dates are a firm yet polite way to make it clear when customers should pay you for your services. Add these near the top of the invoice and make them clearly visible.
Pro Tip: If you’re using field service software like Jobber or our free Invoicing Toolkit, your company and customer information, along with the invoice number and invoice date will be generated automatically. You’ll never have to worry about forgetting or putting the wrong number on your customer bills.
4. Write each line item with a description of services
Use the invoice to clearly describe each service and its associated costs. Don’t worry about how much detail to add. Just make it clear what the client is paying for. That way they can pay right away without asking questions that may delay the billing and invoicing process.
Remember: your customers want to pay you — as long as they understand what they’re paying you for. Just see what this landscaping business owner had to say about including line items in Jobber:
“Our customers love seeing line itemization on quotes because they can see exactly where their money is going. Without that, you give them a price and there’s a lot of back and forth. The more you break it down, the more they’re willing to pay.” – Mario Franja, Brooks Landscaping
5. Add-up line items for total money owed
Finally, add up all of the subtotals and write out the total amount owed on a separate line, with a bold or highlighted font so that it stands out. A good invoice template or software will calculate these fields for you automatically.
If you have any taxes or discounts to apply to your bill, include them just above the total amount owed so that it’s immediately clear to the customer exactly what they need to pay.
6. Include simple payment terms and payment options
This step is crucial for good customer service and avoiding invoice disputes. It’s always good to go over these terms in person before the work is done, but be sure to include them on the invoice as an added reminder.
- The payment due date
- Late payment penalties
- Any money-back guarantee or service warranties
Be sure to note exactly how the customer can pay you, whether it’s in cash, by cheque, or online payments.
7. Add a personal note
Include a final personal message to the customer at the bottom of the invoice, thanking them for their business.
You can add any additional information, such as an upcoming seasonal deal, your referral program, or a request for reviews or helpful feedback. This is the very last thing they’ll see before paying, and is a great way to make them feel good about choosing your business.
READ MORE: How to ask for referrals from customers
Example of an invoice for services rendered
What does an invoice look like? Here’s an example of a professional service invoice that was created using the invoicing process above and using Jobber’s invoicing software:
How to make an invoice using a professional invoice template
You can create an invoice template in Word, Excel, or simplify your life and use a pre-made invoice template like the one below:
A professional layout helps you build trust with your clients. When you use a template, you’re guaranteed to create consistent invoices that you can easily repeat with each job.
Once you’ve created your invoice template (or downloaded the free version above), simply plug in the information above required for each job.
How to send a bill to your customers
Now that you’ve mastered how to write a bill, it’s time to send the invoice to your customer.
We recommend that you email or text your invoices to clients. Email and text invoices are better because:
- They’re received immediately, so you can get paid and close out jobs faster
- You can set up notifications to confirm your customer has received and viewed your invoice
- They won’t get lost in the mail, misplaced, or accidentally tossed out with flyers
- They’re easy to resend, file, store, and find
If you use software like Jobber, you can offer online payments to your clients, and even save their credit or debit cards, with their permission.
In terms of when to send an invoice, we recommend sending the invoice as soon as the job is complete, while you’re still on-site and it’s fresh in your client’s mind. But, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work with invoicing. Your invoice process may be different depending on your relationship with the customer and the frequency of the work.
READ MORE: When to invoice a customer
Best practices to remember when you make an invoice
Here are a few final invoicing best practices that can help simplify your day-to-day and encourage clients to pay faster:
- Go digital: Invoices are legal documents, and you are required to keep copies for tax purposes. Handwritten invoices are not only messy – they’re a liability. Use invoice templates or invoicing software to keep clean records and easily keep track of what is due and who owes you money.
- Make it easy for customers to pay: The easier you make it for customers to pay, the faster they’ll do it. Few still carry cash or cheques with them, so give customers the option to pay online or by credit card on-site.
- Shorten the payment terms: Service companies typically wait more than 25 days to be paid, and that’s not counting overdue payments. Reduce cash flow gaps by shortening the payment terms from 30 days to 14 days. Just make sure to discuss this with the client ahead of time, and clearly indicate it on the invoice, and even in your initial contract (especially if it’s a big, long-term project).
- Accept deposits and signatures on the spot: If your clients are on-site during your service, take advantage by accepting deposits, signatures, and full payments right on site.
Invoicing doesn’t just help you to get paid on time, it also helps you to keep track of past jobs and clients—information you may need come tax time or if a dispute ever arises.
Getting a system in place may seem like a big, daunting change in the beginning, but once you’ve got one set up, it will help you manage payments and customer details as your business grows.
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