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When Should You Issue an Invoice?

Whether you’re selling a product or providing a service, chances are you’ll need to issue an invoice somewhere along the line. It’s essential to think about when to send an invoice to a customer based on the type of product or service you’ve provided – and how often you provide it. First, let’s go over what exactly an invoice is and why they’re a great way to get paid.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What invoices are and their benefits

  • When to send an invoice to your customers

  • When to expect your payment

What are invoices? 

An invoice is a legally binding document that lists the products or services that were provided to a customer, with a detailed breakdown of costs. Invoices are usually provided for B2B (business-to-business) transactions. 

There might be times when an individual asks for an invoice, but in most cases, B2C (business-to-consumer) invoices are not required. 

Make sure not to get invoices confused with receipts, which are given as proof of payment.

Why use invoices?

They remind people to pay

As humans, we sometimes forget to do things. Invoices are a handy way to make sure that your customers don’t let their outstanding payment slip through the cracks. You can also check what a customer has purchased and see how much each product or service costs.

They help you keep track

Invoices provide detailed accounts of your transactions. Businesses are required by US CPB to keep records of their payments for 7 years, whether you’re a registered business or self-employed. 

Whether an invoice has been sent, paid, viewed or overdue, you can view the Invoice’s status from the main Invoice history menu. You can also change the status of the invoice in the SumUp App if a customer decides to pay the invoice without using their card.

Protection

Invoices are legally binding including your payment terms, so they’re helpful if you’re trying to get hold of an overdue or missing payment.

When to issue an invoice

Invoicing in advance

There might be times when a customer wants a pre-invoice. It could be for an appointment that’s part of a larger event that they’re trying to budget for, like having their hair done on their wedding day. They’ll want to consider your offer and see how it fits into their wider plan. 

If the services you’re providing are costly, you might want to consider requesting upfront payment or a deposit, particularly if the unexpected cancellation of your services would impact you financially.

Invoicing there and then

If you’ve sold something to a customer in person or remotely, you can send them an invoice right away. If you’re in-store, your customer will most likely want to pay with cash or card, but if you’re offsite and the customer is there at the time, you can provide them with an invoice directly. 

Providing a customer with an invoice at such short notice might seem like a difficult task, given that preparing them used to be quite time-consuming. Luckily, there’s a ton of new ways to issue an invoice without the hassle of creating one in Excel, or printing it out beforehand. 

You can send online invoices right from your phone, whether it be via email or through an online service or software, which makes invoicing much easier. Using SumUp Invoices you can create professional, tax-compliant invoices in less than a minute.

Invoicing after you’ve finished the job

When it comes to completing a service, whether it’s a large project or freelance work, it’s best to check with your customer that they’re happy with the final product before issuing an invoice. You can also send your customer an email double-checking if any changes need to be made. 

Once you’ve confirmed that everything is correct, you can go ahead and issue their invoice.

Recurring invoices

If you’re a repeat business, such as a cleaning service, you might want to set up a repeat invoice. If you’re providing the same service each time, the costs should always remain the same. You can create invoices that go out at specific times, such as weekly or monthly. 

If you work bi-weekly or weekly, you might not want to issue one every time a job has been completed. Monthly invoices help and you can include all services for that calendar month. 

Invoicing at agreed milestones

If you’re working on a long-term project, it’s best to agree on certain milestones with your customer. You should agree on the terms and costs that will be included on the invoices specific to each section of the project.

Formulating a payment plan is important as it guarantees cash flow, meaning you can continue to cover costs and avoid building up a larger bill for your customer to pay at the end of your contract.

When will you get paid?

With SumUp Invoices, you can customize your due dates or select a preset due date between 8 days, 14 days, 30 days and even today. Invoice due dates can vary from the date it was issued or when they received the goods or services, unless you’ve agreed on a different payment date. If you want your customer to pay sooner, this needs to be confirmed and the due date has to be included on your invoice. 

One of the many great benefits of online invoicing is that you’re likely to get paid 14 days faster than with a printed invoice, so don’t be afraid to suggest a 2-week payment deadline. 

Get started with SumUp Invoices today

With SumUp Invoices, you can create and send professional invoices in under a minute and send them to your customers via email, all from your smartphone or tablet. It’s the simplest, safest way to record your sales and collect your payments. Try SumUp Invoices now!

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Callum Conway