As busy business owners, time is precious to us and sometimes there are parts of our business that we feel take up more of our time than we want. The paperwork and admin side of things isn’t always what we want to be spending lots of time on.
So this blog is to help you business owners out there who want to be more efficient and save time with your invoicing. You may need to invest a small amount of time in changing how you do things but you will reap the benefits in time back.
Before we dive into the benefits, I would like to give you just one example of how making a change in how invoicing was done made a huge difference to a business we worked with. In the business we worked with, the business owner was out Monday to Friday meeting and providing services to his clients and this resulted in him spending all day every Saturday at his office raising sales invoices to customers using a desktop based Sage software. By helping him to transition to another software (Xero), he was able to radically reduce the time spent and also he could do the invoicing using his tablet inbetween appointments and when he got home each evening and this meant he could have a whole day of his weekend back every week. So that makes a big difference to the efficiency of the business operations and the work/life balance of the business owner.
So here are our 7 top tips for saving time with your invoicing;
- Raise your invoices either on a CRM (Customer relationship management) system or an accounting software that can be accessed via the cloud. This means that you don’t need to be in a particular location to raise your invoices – you can do it from home, another office, in the car or even broad. These cloud based systems can be set up to create invoices efficiently and effectively and emailed straight out to your clients. If you are currently invoicing using Word or Excel for example, then you will be taking much longer to raise these and email or post to your clients than you need to be.
- Only do them once. We often see sales invoices being raised on one system and then re-created again in the accounting software which of course isn’t very efficient. There are systems which integrate with accounting softwares that means they will automatically be pulled across into your accounting system. Alternatively, you may be able export the invoices out of the system you created them in and import them into your accounting software.
- Create recurring invoices. If you are using a system, it is likely that you will be able to create recurring invoices. This is really useful if you are invoicing clients on a regular basis for the same thing. For example, for our clients that are on a fixed monthly fee with us, we set up the template in our Xero software and it then automatically creates the invoices for us each month. We can set it so they are draft, approved or we can set it so they are approved and go straight out to our clients without us doing anything.
- Invoice to groups of clients. In your CRM or accounting software, you may have the ability to create the same invoice but for a group of customers. For example, in Xero I can put a number of clients attending a course into a group. I can then raise one invoice to every client in the group and this will create all the individual invoices in one go. This is a massive time saver.
- Use the inventory function in your software (even you if you don’t manage stock through it) If you are using an accounting software, there is likely to be an inventory function where you can set up products and services that you regularly sell to your customers and this can include the description of the product and the service, the unit price, the VAT type which is applicable and the nominal code. So even if you aren’t using the function to manage stock, it can make your invoicing much quicker because you can simply select the relevant product or service and it will populate many of the fields for you.
- Set up the default information in your system Depending on what software you are using, you may be able to set up default information for your customer. So if you know that customer will always be charged VAT, will always have the same nominal code and will always have the same invoicing terms, you can set this information up when you create a new customer. Then each time you raise an invoice, these fields will be automatically populated for you.
- Get others in your staff team to raise invoices – you can still approve and send them yourself. If you have staff then you don’t have to do this all yourself. Train your staff to raise the sales invoices as part of their processes. If you want the reassurance of viewing and checking these before they go out then you can do that too.
For those of you reading this, you mind find that you have none of these things in place at the moment or you have just picked out one thing that you could do differently. We encourage you to take action now and start saving time that can be used elsewhere in your business.
If you are interested in finding out more about a cloud based accounting software you could use for your invoicing, please get in touch as we provide free (no obligation) demonstrations of Xero software and can even help you get it set up for you to use.