What to Include on an Invoice: Must Haves to Get Paid
A complete, well-formatted invoice can make all the difference when it comes to getting paid on time. However, incomplete information, confusing terms, or sums that just don’t add up are a recipe for disputes, late payments, and even lost revenue.
Service businesses of all types rely on professional invoices to stay cash flow positive. And while they look simple enough, invoices are legal documents that require specific information and formatting. Skip a step, and you might skip a cheque.
Read on to find out exactly what to include on an invoice to ensure proper payment every time.
What should you include on an invoice?
- Your company name and contact information
- The term ‘invoice’ and an invoice number
- Name and address of the client you’re invoicing
- Invoice issue date and payment due date
- Date the services or goods were provided (supply date)
- Clear description of what you’re charging for
- Amounts charged for each line item
- Total amount owed, including taxes and discounts
- Payment terms and payment methods
- A thank you note
If you’re just starting out and aren’t sure how to format your invoices with the right information, you can use our free invoice template. It includes all of the elements you need to create a professional invoice from scratch.
However, if you run a service business and invoice clients regularly (more than once per month), you should definitely consider using service business invoicing software instead. Invoice software lets you automatically create professional, branded invoices from jobs you’ve completed. You can add custom line items, batch invoice multiple jobs at once, and even get notified when an invoice is overdue so you can follow-up with the client and— you guessed it— get paid.
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1. Your company name and contact information
Put your business’ legal name, business address, and contact information (phone number, email, and website) at the top of the invoice document. This makes it easy for clients to reach you in case they have questions or disputes.
If you have a company logo, be sure to add that as well! Not only does this add a layer of professionalism and credibility to your invoice, it also makes you 3x more likely to get paid!
2. The term ‘invoice’ and an invoice number
Every single invoice requires a unique invoice number. This number keeps your records organized (especially at tax time). You can generate invoice numbers sequentially or use invoicing software to automatically generate unique numbers and avoid duplicates.
Include the invoice number at the top of the page along with the word ‘invoice’ in a medium-large font so that clients can immediately identify the document and give it the attention it deserves.
3. Name and address of the client you’re invoicing
Your recipient’s information should go right below yours. Include the client’s full name and mailing address. If you’re servicing another business or contractor, include their trading name along with the name of the person who handles your account.
This information ensures the invoice reaches the right person, and can be crucial in the case of a legal dispute.
4. Invoice issue date and payment due date
An invoice without a due date is unlikely to be paid.
Always add the date the invoice was created (issue date) as well as the date that payment is due. When it comes to the due date, we suggest writing out a specific date rather than “due within 30 days.” A date is easier to remember and creates a more tangible deadline in the client’s mind.
If you’re using invoicing software such as Jobber, both of these dates can be automatically generated so you don’t have to think about it. Plus, you can track upcoming due dates and see alerts when a payment is overdue.
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5. Date the services or goods were provided (supply date)
The supply date is equally important to have on your invoice. This is especially useful if your client has any queries or disputes about when (or if) you were on their property.
To back up the supply date with evidence, you can use GPS Waypoints to track your team’s exact whereabouts when they clock in and out of jobs. If a client wants to know if or when you were on-site, you can show them down to the minute.
Clients will sometimes question whether or not you were on site when you said you were, so it's pretty easy to back that up when you have the exact moment someone clicked a button, and where they were when they did so. If the guys forget to track what time they got to a job, I already have that information. I don't even have to ask.
6. Itemized descriptions of what you’re charging for
When it comes to the service descriptions, be as clear as possible. The easier you make it for clients to understand the invoice, the faster they will be able to pay you.
Instead of a general description such as “installation,” write down exactly what you installed, where you installed it, and what parts were purchased and used.
This part of the invoice can be tedious. You need to rely on your employees (and yourself) to keep track of every single line item so you’re not losing money. You can always make your life easier by using invoicing software. Jobber lets you load custom line items into a template and track expenses so that each invoice is done within just a few clicks.
Go one step further by using a CRM (Client Relationship Manager) that integrates with your invoice software. A good CRM will allow you to attach detailed notes and photos to each job so you’ll know exactly what work was done.
7. Amounts charged for each line item
After the description of each line item, include the quantity (the number of parts and/or the number of hours worked) and the cost (per unit or per hour). Finally, include the total charge for each line item.
8. Total amount owed
Tally up the total cost of every service and/or good provided below the itemized list of services. Below that, add in any taxes you are required to charge and add a line for discounts, if applicable.
The final number is the total amount owed. Write it down on a separate line and emphasize it by using a bold or highlighted font so that it stands out.
There is no room for error here— if you get this number wrong, your client might doubt your entire invoice and delay payment. Or, they might underpay or overpay you. Do the math carefully, or use invoicing software to automatically calculate every line item, tax, and discount for you.
9. Payment terms and payment methods
Use your invoice to clearly state the following terms:
- What methods of payment you accept (ePayments, cash, cheque, or credit card )
- How to pay you (for example, where can they go to pay online? Who should the cheque be made to? )
- Late fee or penalty disclaimers
- Money-back guarantee or service warranty disclaimers
It’s best practice to discuss these terms with the client in person before doing the work. Make sure they understand and agree to them. You can also include these terms on your service quote and have the client sign off before you even begin the work.
10. A thank you note
Even though an invoice is a legal document and must be taken seriously, you can still inject some personality. A short ‘thank you’ message near the bottom of the page is a great way to end the invoice on a warm and positive note.
You can also use this space to remind clients of your referral program or request a review.
Tip: If you’re using invoicing software like Jobber, you can easily add your brand colours to your invoice layout to make it even more memorable for clients.
Invoicing dos and don’ts
If you’ve gone through this list and added each element (or used our handy free invoice template), you should have a pretty sleek looking invoice in your hands. For more information on how exactly to put the invoice together, check out our guide to writing an invoice.
We’ll leave you with a few invoice dos and don’ts so you can get started with confidence.
- Write invoices by hand: Handwritten invoices are messy, easy to lose, and will make you look unprofessional in your clients’ eyes. Create digital invoices using invoice software, Excel, or Word.
- Use confusing payment terms: If a client has questions, they’ll delay payment. Use simple terms, short but clear descriptions, and make yourself available before and during the job to answer any questions your client may have.
- Limit your payment methods: More and more clients expect to pay online. If you limit your payment options, they may choose another business.
- Be polite: Requesting payment can be uncomfortable. Put your client at ease and they’ll be more likely to settle up with a smile.
- Use a template: Inconsistent invoices are more likely to have oversights or errors. Instead of starting from scratch every time, choose one template (or invoicing software) and stick to it.
- Send the invoice as a PDF: Avoid sending invoices as an Excel or Word document. Not all clients can open these file types, which can lead to frustration and delayed payment. Instead, send the invoice as a PDF— they are universally accepted and cannot be edited by anyone but you. Plus, it looks more professional.
- Use an invoicing process your whole team understands: If you work with an office admin or have multiple field technicians, make sure everyone is on the same page. Use a consistent template and invoice process to avoid errors, double billing, or invoices that slip through the cracks.
Want more? Now that you’re an invoicing expert, find out when is the best time to send an invoice: before or after the job?