Make Your Invoices Beautiful AND Functional - Step-by-step Instructions
Here I’ll explain how to professionalize your invoices. If you’ve just been using the basic invoice and email templates included in your accounting package, now is the time to redo your invoices so they look sharp and help ensure you get paid. Here we’ll discuss
- Payment instructions
- Tool tips for QuickBooks Online and Xero
Just about all accounting software nowadays has customizable invoice templates that allow you to showcase your brand by adding your logo and brand colors. You can also include tag lines and links to your website and social profiles in the header or footer of your invoice. Doing this “branding” work on your invoices is critical - it’s another touchpoint with your customers so you want to take advantage of the opportunity to reinforce your brand and message. Below is the actual invoice configuration we use.
Aside from branding, make absolutely sure all the necessary payment information is included on your invoice. After all, the point of the invoice is to get paid so you don’t want the customer to have to follow up with a question before they can pay you (like “Where do I mail the check?”). Be sure to include the following on your invoice template:
- Pay Now Button: The customer is sent to a secure portal where they can input credit card or bank info. This is usually included by default in most accounting software packages, but only after you correctly set up the ability to receive online payments - make sure you do that and then test this button.
- Bank Account and Routing Numbers: Some clients prefer to pay online using their bank’s own bill pay service or a third-party service (instead of using the Pay Now button - annoying I know but sometimes it’s hard to get customers to change their vendor payment process). Make sure they have all the info they need so there are no delays in you getting paid.
- Wire Transfer Details: Especially for large and/or international payments.
- Instructions for Paper Check: “Make Check Payable To” and address where you want the check sent. Some companies won’t be able to alter their existing bill payment process and will insist on sending you a paper check. Not ideal, but slow money is better than no money.
Below are some specifics on how best to configure your invoices in QuickBooks Online and Xero. We also support businesses on NetSuite, Sage, QuickBooks Desktop, SAP, and a range of other systems, so contact us if you need help with just about any system.
- To add your logo, brand colors, and all other aspects of the default invoice template, go to the Custom Form Styles section of Settings (gear icon in top right). Get the perfect color! You can choose from 18 standard colors provided by QuickBooks, but you can even choose a custom color by entering the 6 digit hex key - this way it will match exactly to your brand’s principal color.
- If you have different types of customers that you end up sending different types of invoices to (i.e. different level of detail regarding product or service, or different payment instructions for different locations), you can set up multiple Custom Form Styles and configure the invoice template differently. Then, on the actual invoice it’s easy to switch - just chose the appropriate template from the “Customize” menu (bottom-center area of the invoice).
- Take some time and thoughtfully configure the default email that is sent with your invoices. This is another touchpoint with your customer (and a sensitive one since you’re asking them to fork over some cash), so make sure the email conveys the tone you want, and of course take the opportunity to reinforce your brand and don’t forget to include the same payment instructions you included on your invoice in the email body as well. Check out the example email below (this is actually what we send our customers).
- Create multiple invoice configurations depending on exactly how you want your invoice to look for different sets of customers by creating numerous branding themes. Go to General Settings>Invoice Settings, and click “New Branding Theme”.
- To get real fancy or picky with the look of your invoice, make a custom Microsoft Word file with exactly the design you want and then upload it to Xero. Click the dropdown arrow next to “New Branding Theme” and select “Custom .docx”. This will create the skeleton theme, then download the Microsoft Word Files (.docx), configure them as needed, and re-upload them. Be sure not to alter or inadvertently exclude any of the field placeholders (those words surrounded by guillemets, e.g. «InvoiceDueDate») - these are what Xero uses to pull in the correct data when generating the invoice.
With these pointers you should be able to create some astoundingly beautiful invoices that also help you get paid faster. If you have any questions about invoice configuration or anything else accounting and finance-wise feel free to reach out to us.