Invoicing and billing are cornerstone tasks for businesses. You need to have procedures that ensure that you’re paid for the products or services that you render to your customers.
But relying on paper records can make it difficult to facilitate these tasks. Paper documents and manual procedures make tracking outstanding payments cumbersome, which may result in payments slipping through the cracks.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to streamline your billing and invoicing processes.
Invoice vs Bill
Before diving into billing and invoicing best practices, it’s worth understanding the difference between the two. While many people use the terms “billing” and “invoicing” interchangeably, they do have some key distinctions.
What is invoicing?
Invoicing refers to the process of sending an invoice — which is a document itemizing the products or services sold by the business. It can come in the form of a paper document or a PDF, and it typically contains:
- The date the invoice was sent
- The date the products/services were delivered
- The payment terms of the invoice
- Payment instructions
What is a bill?
A bill is a document received by the customer, which also outlines the products or services rendered by the business. A key difference is that a bill usually implies the need for immediate payment, while an invoice can outline certain terms (i.e., net 30/60/90 days).
The difference is subtle, and often the distinction between invoicing and billing lies in how the documents are perceived. A merchant may send an invoice, which the customer then sees as a bill to be paid.
Regardless of these technicalities though, one thing remains the same: in order for your business to get paid quickly and easily, you need a streamlined billing and invoicing process.
Check out the billing and invoicing tips below to learn how to do just that.
Digitize Your Billing and Invoicing Documents
The first step to simplifying how you bill or invoice clients is to eliminate paper documents whenever possible. Sending bills or invoices via snail mail is not only time-consuming or tedious, it also increases the likelihood of delayed or missed payments. Paper documents can get lost in the mail, and even when they’re received, it’s all too easy for customers to misplace or forget about them.
Do yourself and your customers a favor by digitizing your billing and invoicing practices. Instead of using traditional mail, utilize digital platforms such as email and SMS to notify customers about payments that are due.
Automate Your Procedures
Billing and invoicing involves a number of steps. The merchant sends the bill/invoice, which is then reviewed and paid by the customer. From there, the merchant must then issue a receipt once the payment is complete.
Done manually, the above process takes time and involves a lot of back-and-forth with the customer. The good news? Using a modern payment platform such as Stax can automate these steps to make life easier for both the merchant and the customer.
Stax has invoicing capabilities for automating tasks like:
- Notifying customers when payment is due
- Sending reminders
- Issuing receipts
Plus, Stax makes it easy to generate invoices. Our customization features allow you to drag-and-drop multiple fields, select tax rates, and add a memo. You can also track which invoices are outstanding and which of your customers owe a payment.
When these steps are placed on autopilot, you can spend less time chasing payments and devote more energy to other areas of your business.
Set Up a Portal for Payments
Another way to streamline billing and invoicing is to offer a self-service payment process. Rather than clients having to call you or send a check via snail mail, establish an online portal where they can enter their payment details.
Stax makes this extremely easy. Enable online payments by sending payment links or embedding a “Pay Now” button on your website, so customers can pay their bills without having to manually coordinate with you.
Keep Your Customer’s Payment Details on File
This tip works best if you need to invoice or bill clients on a recurring basis. If payments need to be made at regular intervals, invite your customers to provide you with an account number or credit card that you can keep on file.
Doing so can eliminate manual work completely — both for businesses and customers. As the merchant, you won’t have to generate the same invoices every month; meanwhile, your customers can rest easy knowing that their bills are automatically paid.
Integrate Your Solutions
You’ll make your life immensely easier by integrating your payments platform with other components of the business — including customer management, inventory, analytics, and more.
When your systems are tightly connected, information can flow smoothly across various applications, eliminating the need for manual data entry and updates. It also makes tracking payments and other metrics so much easier.
If you’re tired of tracking and managing payment across multiple platforms, the Stax all-in-one Platform is a perfect solution. You can view a detailed list of customer information, recurring payment schedules, catalog items, and inventory with just one login. You can drill down into specifics to manage customer information, like their preferred payment method.
A virtual terminal automatically tracks inventory levels, working from invoices every time something is sold. Everything is one place, and you can search by keyword and sort by name, address, and more to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Integrating your payment technology will organize your invoices, customer information, and data. You’ll get paid faster with automated receipts and due-date reminders for customers. And if you need to check a customer’s information or inventory levels, it’s all there. Stax streamlines your entire payments and billing process while also saving you money.
Get in touch today to learn how we can help you simplify your billing and invoicing needs.