At the end of the day, we want to get paid for the work we do.
Checks can get lost, and bugging your clients for payment isn’t the best use of your time. Whether you have a large project or a quick job, invoicing your clients can be a challenge.
You’re already busy staying on top of your schedule, communicating with trade partners and keeping your own costs under budget. Because you don’t have a second to waste you need to find a way to invoice your client that makes it easy for you and them.
Follow these tips to make construction invoicing painless and ensure you get paid on time.
1. Set clear expectations
Determine how the project will be billed. Some examples of an invoicing workflow are progress payment, payment schedules, construction estimates or even a bill from the selections sheet or change orders. However the costs are calculated, make sure both you and your client are aware of the terms.
Miscommunication is a big source of conflict. Get to know your clients and establish payment guidelines. Be clear about deadlines, payment methods and methods of contact. As much as you want their business, it’s important for you to not lose money on someone who is a potential flight risk.
As the project progresses, provide a log of adjustments, so surprises are kept to a minimum. This way, your client doesn’t miss sections of the invoice, and they’re less likely to be surprised. Keeping a single source of truth regarding the bottom line leaves out any second guessing.
2. Create invoice templates
When making a construction invoice, be as clear as possible. Make sure “invoice” is at the top of the page, so your client knows exactly what it is at a glance. Include important information such as your contact information, your client’s contact information and an invoicing number.
In the invoice, list out all services, materials and the final amount you’re looking to collect. If the invoice is only for part of a job, make sure it’s clearly stated too. There’s no error in overcommunicating.
To make this process simpler, using a digital invoice template saves time on recreating bills for similar jobs. For example, if you’re continuously using the same materials and charging the same amount for a drywall installation, using a template saves the hassle of recreating the bill for each new job.
Consider using construction invoicing software like Buildertrend. Users can automatically generate line-item invoices. Manual tasks, such as calculations or creation of a document, can be left to the software. Each time a new client is taken on, an invoice can be generated at the start of a project cutting out time with administrative work.
3. Set up online payments
Make it easy for your client to pay you. Using an electronic payment method cuts out the need to write a check. Scheduling time to meet in person is an additional hurdle to getting paid.
To ensure payment before a deadline, send a reminder using construction tech like Buildertrend. It may seem like you’re being a pest, but it’s perfectly acceptable and often appreciated when a little nudge is given. Be sure to let your client know a week before payment and the day before – especially if you charge late fees.
When contacting a client about payment, be sure to record all messages. Buildertrend Customer Portal allows builders to contact their clients in the platform – keeping a record of all communication. Let your client know in a polite manner and remind them of any payment agreements if needed.
A missed payment could have been a mistake. If the client continues to avoid payment, having a detailed invoice with clear records of all aspects of the project will help in case of a lawsuit. Using construction invoicing software like Buildertrend organizes invoices by job – acting as a single source of truth.
4. Generate real-time reporting
Knowing where you stand financially during a project is critical during a build. A benefit of construction invoicing software like Buildertrend is that it generates real-time reports showing where you financially stand in a project. This allows you to make any pivots to stay within budget.
Saving time and improving customer service is crucial, but you also need to know where you stand at the end of the month. Buildertrend Work in Progress Report gives you a breakdown of items and displays how much you’ve billed, as well as what’s left outstanding.
Learn how construction management software makes invoicing easy
Paper-based solutions require you to manually input and tally all transactions. Project management software, like Buildertrend, cuts out a lot of the number crunching and paper chasing.
Accounting software, like Quickbooks or Xero, is integrated into Buildertrend. This alleviates double entry and streamline your office workflow. The integration encompasses not only your invoices but also works with schedules, purchase orders and time clock data.