Sending invoices to clients is a necessary part of every business, including construction work. However, it doesn’t need to be complicated or confusing. This article details what a construction invoice should include, best practices when creating your invoices, and how to collect payments.
While invoices may vary slightly from one to another, there are some standard details you should always include:
Always refer to any previous agreements with your client when it comes to how soon after submission an invoice will be paid.
The standard is 30 days from the date the invoice is submitted. However, there are some things to watch out for, such as weekends or bank holidays. These may necessitate the due date be extended by a day or two.
Always make sure this is up-to-date before you send it! If you work on an invoice over several days, make sure your invoice date accurately reflects the date you send it to your client.
Each invoice should have its own number so that both you and the client can refer to them easily later, and you can properly document your income for tax purposes later.
The most standard method for assigning invoices numbers is a series of zeros and sequential numbers, such as 00001, 00002, etc. Another method is to assign an invoice number based on the customer number, resulting in an invoice number such as 9876-001. Ultimately, as long as you never have duplicate invoice numbers, how you assign them is entirely up to you.
To make the process of invoicing as painless as possible, follow these best practices.
Above all, clarity should be your main goal. An invoice should be clear and easy to read to ensure clear communication between yourself and the client. Part of this means making sure to use the correct information by double-checking your invoice before sending off a final copy.
Keep a consistent format. Once you’ve got it figured out, stick to a single format. This helps portray professionalism, diligence, and reliability. Part of this is using PDF as your standard format, as it’s considered standard for business invoices. Definitely do not send links to the invoice you made in Google Docs or send it as a Word document.
As an additional tip, avoid using reds or yellows in your invoices. Red has a negative connotation with money, and yellow is hard to read against white backgrounds. Instead, opt for blues or browns. Blue has a well-established association with professionalism, and browns feel unobtrusive and down-to-earth.
Make payment terms short but reasonable. Include these as part of your invoices, but don’t make it a whole novel. At the same time, be sure to set expectations and boundaries for clients to adhere to. For example, make it clear what they can expect if they don’t pay on time.
Send your invoices as soon as possible. This is for the benefit of all parties involved, since it will increase your income, and make it more likely that you’ll receive payments in a timely manner. The more delay between invoices, the more that other work will pile up, and the more that both you and the client will be likely to lose clarity on the details of the invoice and agreement. This is part of why documentation is so important - more on documentation below.
Just like the invoice itself, you should strive to be clear and professional in all of your communication. The last thing you want with monetary transactions is confusion or misunderstandings, especially because they cost everyone time. Portraying yourself as professional is how you keep long-term clients, attract new ones, and stay in business.
If you’ve not heard back from a client, or they haven’t paid on time, feel free to follow up with them. Reaching out by phone or email helps ensure you’re paid faster. A standard wait time for hearing back from clients is typically one to two weeks after the invoice is sent, but also use your own discretion.
If an invoice has still not been paid, feel free to reach out to a client a few business days before it’s due.
Track your hours. Whenever you’re on the clock, make note of it. Keep these notes in one place for easy reference, and never assume you’ll be able to remember something off the top of your head later. Documentation is your best friend.
Prepare for tax season. Even if tax season seems far off on the distant horizon, organize your documents ahead of time. You’ll thank yourself later and save yourself the headache.
To keep everything organized and prevent payments from falling through the cracks, keep clear, concise, and up-to-date notes on all invoice statuses. This should become an established process that does not change. Updating invoice statuses should be a top priority, and should be done as soon as possible.
Use a method that informs you when a client has viewed the invoice, like Invoicer.ai.
Document everything. Since contractors are paid for the time they document, and not necessarily the work performed, documenting hours worked, and any changes made during the process will help validate your side in case of any disputes.
For all the best practices we’ve outlined above, automate as much of the process as possible. This will save you time and allow you to offload your work, or even take on more clients.
To help with this, use templates, apps, and software that can help with this process. Invoicer.ai can do most of these, such as:
There are three main methods of billing when it comes to construction work. Be sure you know which you’re using and work best for your process. Also make sure that the client knows what to expect in terms of billing, too.
There are also three standard methods of payment used in construction, like most other businesses. These are:
You can also accept credit card payments for smaller jobs.
Be sure to track for each project which method of payment is used, and when it was received. Make clear to your client in your invoice which payment methods you accept, and if there are any extra fees they should expect.
And that’s it! Now that you know the basics of invoicing for construction, you’ve got a solid base from which to work your business.
Be sure to check out our other articles, such as How to Make an Estimate, How to Make an Invoice on Android, Charging Late Payment Fees for Outstanding Invoices, and Contractor Invoice Templates.