Looks Matter: Finding the Best Invoice Template

Business.com / Business Solutions / Last Modified: May 2, 2017

There's only one thing better than getting that final fat check after you've completed a long-term project: getting paid on time.

There's only one thing better than getting that final fat check after you've completed a long-term project: getting paid on time. In the construction industry, contractors are expected to front large sums of money to procure materials, equipment and labor. Self-performing general contractors have it easier, but for those who must subcontract, it can get financially messy.

You can simplify and speed up the process of getting paid by finding the best invoice templates and filling it out carefully. The design of your invoice is important because it's representing you and your company. It should be professional, clean, and it should be easy to read.

What to include

The basics to include on an invoice are your company's name and address, your client's name and address, contact information, invoice number, and date. Whoever is signing that check doesn't want to have to shuffle through papers searching for who to make the check out to or what the address is. Making it easier on your client means getting your money sooner.

Also, be sure to include what services or supplies you're charging for. Be detailed with your descriptions. Your company is likely being commissioned to work on a specific floor, in a particular building, and you have a few jobs happening at once. So, be clear what your client is paying for. This is especially important for progress invoicing.

Bad example:

Original Contract Amount:           $30,000
Net Changes:                                 $  5,000
Total Contract:                                $35,000
Completed to Date:                       $15,000
Less Previous Applications:        $  5,000
Current Payment Due:                  $15,000

Yes, this makes sense when you do the math, but what work did you do? Why does the client owe you $15,000?

Good example:

Description                                         Qty.                       %            Remove               Replace                Total

Tear off plaster on wood lath      3,000 SF                 50            1.50                             0                             $2,250
Remove, replace window                 20 EA                50                25                           50                            $   750

Total: Building (full)                                                                                                                                            $3,000

Now your client knows exactly why they're paying you $3,000. Your rate, what you did, and whatever square footage the building has is all very clearly laid out. Also, be sure to include the figures for "paid to date." It's important for you to keep track of this for yourself and the client, so everyone's on the same page.

What to leave out

You likely have a contract with the client, so there's no need to cite anything from the contract on the invoice. Leave out reconciliations – those should be separate documents, and they don't belong on your invoice. Reconciliations could include discounts, credits, and change order requests.

Why design matters

Branding is important to every business, because it helps reflect the type of company you are, and not just that you're running a general contractor company. It speaks to who you are as the owner and what your company stands for. Your invoices should reinforce this, so use your logo, color themes, the same font and layout. This also creates familiarity and encourages clients to pay you on time – if your invoice shows up regularly, they get used to paying you and not questioning who sent the invoice.

The design should be clear and easy to read to make it easier on your client. The fewer phone calls you have to take to answer questions about what's on the invoice, the faster you get paid.

Where to find the best templates

You can have someone in-house design an invoice for you using Photoshop or any other graphic design software. However, there are plenty of invoices available at no cost to you, or a low cost. A quick Google search shows countless options out there, but you want one that's customizable.

Tidyform.com offers a handful of free templates that are simple and fuss-free. If you prefer something more structured and with the option of a graphic, check out Template.net. To really make it easy, purchase billing and invoice software. Not only can you use premade templates and customize the look for your business, you can easily enter information, save invoices and export them to PDF or email invoices straight from the software.

For the most template choices, check out BillQuick. A good mix of ease of use, template choices and helpful features like a mobile app, there's the old standby QuickBooks.

Image from Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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