A/E Client Invoices: The Key to Better Communication
March 21, 2022
Beginning with your first outreach email or RFP response and continuing from there, the communications your architecture or engineering (A/E) firm sends to clients say a lot about you. Polished pieces with the right amount of detail give them confidence that you have high standards and are delivering on the promises you agreed upon in the contract. Not surprisingly, rough, amateurish communications have the opposite effect.
Nowhere is that truer than with your invoices. That’s why it’s crucial that you carefully consider them and how clients perceive them—from the information they contain to the way they’re formatted.
Streamlining a Tedious, Time-Consuming Process
If you generate invoices manually every month, you probably don’t look forward to that task. But, of course, the hours you spend in front of your computer are a “necessary evil” if you want to keep paying your bills! And, if you’re committed to providing precisely the information each client wants to see in a layout that makes sense to them, you face an even more significant time commitment.
There is an easier way! Technology can bring you a variety of invoice templates that will satisfy the requests of your A/E clients. Below are frequently-requested items to include in your invoices with a few real-world examples of how the final product might look:
- Separation of fixed fee, hourly, and expense transactions, as mentioned above
- Milestone complete or percent complete billing options for fixed fee phases
- Hourly detail reports with descriptions (by employee or role)
- Expense attachments (detail your reimbursables)
- Progress billing (contracted, invoiced, remaining amounts)
- Aging reports
- Ability to bill retainers, create discounts, change orders, etc.
- Simple client payment options (QuickBooks Payment Portal Link)
Firms that believe that “As long as all the relevant information is on the invoice, how it’s formatted isn’t important” miss out on an opportunity to ensure they are communicating well and meeting the needs of their clients.
The content and appearance of your invoices may not be the first thing discussed when your clients and potential clients talk with one another. But the quality of your invoices is far from irrelevant. A clear, concise, easy-to-understand invoice saves the reader (or readers) a significant amount of time and effort.
And there’s no telling how, when, or where your investment in client happiness will come back to benefit your firm!
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