How to get your invoices paid faster

As a software application, Zahara is all about purchasing and managing spend. The end result of the purchase approval process is often the purchase order. One persons purchase order is another's sales order.

The end result of the sales order is, of course, the delivery of the order and the issuing of the sales invoice. Again, Zahara knows a thing or two about invoices and how they get routed around for approval. So here's our advice to help you get paid faster.

Issue the invoice Promptly - So its the 21st of the month, and I have just received an invoice dated the 14th for something that was due on the 1st. So, first and foremost, raise the invoice. Get it out faster. If you have to wait for paper-work, look at your systems and get paper-less. An invoice can be raised as soon as goods are in transit or services delivered. Issue the invoice!

Send the invoice - This may seem daft, but how many people have drafted an invoice and never actually sent it off? Guilty as charged. So, first and foremost, make sure you send it and make sure you send it in the most efficient way. What email address has the customer put on their purchase order? Ask if unsure. Don't send it to an individual and rely on them to pass it over to accounts. Don't post it off to the wrong address either. The purchase order should have everything you need on it to supply your goods or service and issue your invoice.

Get paid up front - When you have what they want, and they want it real bad, make them pay up front. Issue a pro-forma invoice or send a payment link for card payment. Don't be overly generous with payment terms if you don't need to be. If you are selling solutions or project-based work, make sure you get an engagement fee. Don't be shy. Ask and you may well get.

Deliver what they asked for - The biggest cause of invoice dispute will be a discrepancy against the order. If the customer purchase orders you for goods or services, it is your duty to either deliver what they have asked for at the price they have stated, or for you to query it. Don't issue an invoice at a different price and don't issue an invoice that bears no relation whatsoever to the order that you have received.

Put your bank details on your invoice - We are still amazed when an invoice comes in and it doesn't have bank details on. What are we supposed to do? Send a raven with gold in a back pack? Surely you don't expect us to write out a cheque? My hands and fingers haven't held a pen since 1994 so that's not going to work. Expect and ask to be paid electronically. We categorically state we won't accept cheques.
Check the invoice is in - After 10 days, call the accounts department and make sure your customer has your invoice on their system. Our Zahara customers can see instantly where the invoice is and who it's with for approval. Don't rely on guesswork.

State the correct due date - Now construction workers have it tough. They have to turn up in all weather, do a day's work and then go home and issue their invoices. One dear chap I used started shouting at me via email on a Saturday afternoon because I hadn't paid his invoice. It was in my calendar to pay him three days later because that was the due date. Long story short, if you expect to get paid by a certain date or time, specify it on your invoice. There is a Due Date field in most accounts systems so don't blindly go with the default 30 days if you want to be paid sooner.

Enable reminders in your accounts system - If your accounts system supports it, or if there is a module you can enable, then enable any credit control features that send out automatic reminders when invoices are due for payment.

There are many steps you can take to get paid faster. The basics above, together with good credit control will have positive effects on cash flow. As an old mentor once said to me - "businesses do not go bust because they don't make a profit, they go bust because they run out of cash". Cash is king. Get paid faster.


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