Picture this: It’s Friday, the weekend is upon us, you’ve already pre ordered pizza to arrive at your doorstep at 6PM sharp. You glance at the clock–it’s 5:30 now–but from the corner of your eye you see an emerging figure. It’s Carl coming back from a job and he’s heading your way with a file in hand. Dread, anguish, and a sobering reality dawns upon you. These work orders will need to be invoiced, and you’re the only person for the job.
What if you weren’t the only one, though? We hear from a lot of fire and security companies who feel like this essential task can only be done by a select few, but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, invoicing can be a fast, flexible, and simple process that ensures a positive experience for both your customers and your business. Impossible, you say? Read on to learn how you can revamp the way you invoice and get to that 6PM delivery on time.
1. Why is it important to look at your invoicing process to ensure an invoice is paid in full?
Invoicing is deeply embedded in two essential parts of every business-customer experience and revenue flow. It’s crucial to a company’s success, so it is important to make the process as seamless as possible for clients and staff. If you’re invoicing once a week (and most fire and security companies invoice on Friday’s), you’re allowing a significant amount of time to elapse between the day the job was completed and the day you’re asking your customers for payment.
No one likes a bill, and especially one for work they can’t even remember being done. Likewise, if you’re completing multiple jobs in a short time frame for a client, you may be invoicing them too much–which is equally burdensome.
So if invoicing too late is no good and invoicing too frequently is worse, how do you ensure you’re creating an experience that makes your clients want to pay you, and in a timely manner at that? Keep on reading to find out!
2. Double data entry is the enemy, yet you’re still sending fire and security invoices manually.
Wondering where all your time has gone? Bet we can guess–data entry. Typing up a day’s worth of paper job sheets is time consuming, but inputting a week’s worth of data into your records is another level.
Let’s break it down:
If you have 10 technicians averaging 5 jobs a day, that’s 50 work orders completed per day. By the end of the week that’s 250 job sheets you’ll need to double check for details and invoice for. If it takes you ten minutes to raise each invoice, that amounts to 41 hours (an entire work week!) spent on invoicing. Who has the time for that? Probably not you.
But it must get done, and if you’re reading this, you’re most likely the person who has to do it. The great news is, there are ways to eliminate the majority of that workload. Even better news, in some cases, you might not even have to invoice at all. Sorcery? No, just a simple tool we call software.
What if that paper work order never made it back to the office again? It sounds like chaos, but really it’s the first step to order. Digitalizing your work orders eliminates a myriad of problems like records being lost, misplaced, or just the struggle of reading technician’s handwriting. Instead of going back and forth to pick up and drop off work orders, technicians can manage everything directly on site–invoicing included.
Imagine if immediately after the job has been completed your field team could collect payment right there and then. From their phone or tablet they could easily generate the invoice and even break it down by parts, line items, and labor rates. A quick signature and card swipe from your customer seals the deal, and that job sheet never even made it back into your hands.
We know not all fire and security companies want their technicians to collect payment on site though. The beauty of a digital work order is that it can be sent to the office with a click of a button, still eliminating the tedious drive back at the end of every day.
Within seconds you can raise the invoice and send it out to your client–and brownie points if you include a payment portal link with it! This eliminates ninety percent of the manual work in your invoicing process–cutting those 41 hours down to five a week. What would you do with those 36 hours you just got back?
3. You’re sending invoices all day, every day, yet no invoice is paid in full.
While it’s problematic to invoice infrequently, it’s equally painful for your customers to receive a bill from you too often. This is especially true in the fire and security sector where contracts may require you to do inspections on a regular basis. For example, if you’re working with a property manager to inspect fire alarms in a condominium, that client isn’t going to want a separate invoice for each asset you test in every apartment.
It’s time consuming for you to generate each of those documents and frustrating for them to pay them off one by one. Not to mention the more invoices you send, the more likely they are to miss one and delay payment. This then puts the additional burden of debt chasing on you.
There’s a simple solution to this problem, though: combine these many invoices into one. Again, the initial thought of it may scream chaos. How will charging your client for fifty jobs all at once make them any happier?
The answer is by providing them with a detailed breakdown of each individual job and price associated with it. They’ll be able to see all the work that was done and pay the full amount in one go. This is especially useful when doing multiple jobs across multiple properties at once.
Ultimately, consolidating your invoices will reduce the amount of effort and administrative work you’re doing. It will also increase the percentage of clients who return an invoice paid in full and on time. It’s a win-win, you’re creating an awesome customer experience while simultaneously lessening your workload.
4. You’re chasing a debt that doesn’t need to be on the run.
Debt chasing is an unpleasant phrase. It’s an even more unpleasant task to perform. No one wants to pester someone to pay them, but you work for a business and to keep it afloat you need to get paid. It’s important to understand why this chase is happening though, because in most cases it’s a race you don’t even need to run.
A common problem it originates from is all that manual work we talked about before. If you start invoicing for 250 jobs on a Friday (and don’t forget that’s 41 hours of work), in most cases that job your technician completed during the first week of the month isn’t going to be sent out for payment until the third week of the month.
By that time your client’s smoke detector has been working swimmingly for nearly fifteen days, they’ve forgotten all about your visit, and most likely are not going to want to pay that very delayed bill. What’s the result of this? Missing revenue that you’re being held accountable for retrieving, and a lot of time and effort to get that customer on the phone to pay their outstanding charges.
The question is, how do you end the chase before it starts? Great news, you have options. Technicians can collect payment directly on site with integrations like Stripe and nip that problem in the bud immediately. No marathon required for those customers. If that’s not an option for you, though, make sure you’re invoicing the same day. Digitalize work orders, automate invoicing templates, and provide your customers with convenient online portals to input their payments.
This will drastically increase the number of invoices paid on time. And what about those clients who still decline to pay promptly? Automation is your friend. Don’t manually type out emails but automate them with personal tags. Consider implementing tools like MailChimp to save yourself time and the headache of typing out the same email over and over again. The percentage of invoices paid will only increase, while your workload decreases.
The takeaway on how to get fire and security invoices paid faster.
The simple truth is invoicing can be an undertaking of days or a process completed in a matter of minutes. It may initially seem like a huge feat to automate your workflow, but removing all of your manual efforts will pay off big time in the long run. Simplify the way you invoice for you and your clients, and increase their satisfaction as well as your own.
Imagine what you could be doing instead instead of spending hours on data entry or chasing down customers for payments. Maybe it’s bidding for bigger contracts, expanding your marketing efforts, or simply getting home on time for Friday night dinner. Whatever it is, it’s definitely an achievable goal and within your reach.
So if you’re ready to get your fire and security invoices paid faster, click the infographic below. Plus, you’ll find our top ten tips on how to take your business to the next level!
Hi! I'm Ashley Tortorelli
When I'm not researching industry trends and writing about business strategies, I spend time with friends and family, travelling, and searching for the world's best chocolate chip cookie.