Thursday 17 August 2017

Lessons in Invoicing from the Milkman

For many years, we've had fresh milk delivered to our doorstep at home each morning.  I guess we like the idea that we were helping to keep a tradition going, together with the feeling that we were supporting a local small business.  No doubt the milk comes from farms near Chernobyl and the company is owned by a tax-dodging multinational, but it made us feel good.

I suppose it did all feel a bit antiquated, leaving handwritten messages when we were going away and cheques for payment rolled up and stuck in the top of an empty bottle for the delivery person to collect, so I wasn't surprised when the dairy wrote to us saying that they wanted to move to receiving payment of their invoices by bank transfer.

Unfortunately, when the next invoice arrived, it was obvious that this company hadn't read the My Credit Controllers article on how to design your invoice to get your money in quickly.  The invoice clearly stated that ALL PAYMENTS SHOULD BE BY BANK TRANSFER, but the crucial information was missing - the details of the bank account to which they wanted a remittance made.

Of course, this isn't make or break, it just slows down payment from people who want to pay you and perhaps gives cover to others who want to delay payment as long as possible.  The real clincher , and what unfortunately lost the company a customer, was that the office didn't reply to repeated requests for the bank details.  As the weeks went by, we became more and more embarrassed about the money owing and eventually just cancelled the deliveries and left a cheque for the total outstanding.

So why not learn from the example of my Milkman?  Why make it difficult for your customers to pay you when it's so easy to make it simple?  Have a look at our guide to designing an invoice template and make sure your business is doing everything possible to get paid on time by customers.

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