Best practices to get your invoices paid on time.

While most people readily pay their dues on time and keep their incomings and outgoings on track, a few need more tricks of the trade to help persuade them pay their bills on time. At the end of the day, any small business owner knows that even a single unpaid invoice affects cashflow and could render the business into a cash strapped entity.

The Heading - Hit the nail right on its head

Marking the envelope and title the top of the invoice page “INVOICE” in bold letters ideally in red will certainly garner maximum attention. This small initiative will help your piece of paper reach the right designate from the moment it gets delivered. Inclusion of your company name and logo on the next most prominent line is ideal (Time tested practices and psychological studies indicate people are more likely to remember images and logos than words. See the connection here - INVOICE + Company Name + Company Logo - Subliminally impregnates the memory of the invoice). A remembered invoice is more likely to be paid promptly.

An Itemized Listing - Make the content the focus

Making sure all products or services are clearly itemized is a definite way to make your invoice more understandable. A detailed list will save time wasted through additional correspondences trying to understand the invoice. So does the itemized listing as do the logo to help your recipient remember.

The Perfect Payment Terms - Dates, Penalties and Incentives

Always make sure to clearly and boldly state that “payment is due within X days.” A good idea is to include a warning about late fee policies or penalties that will be charged for late payment. An invoice with a late payment fee is most likely to be bumped to the front of a list of invoices that need payment. It is also wise to include a Y% discount for early payment. Studies indicate the inclusion of a “please” in the request for payment increases the likelihood of the invoice getting paid on time.

Offering a variety of payment options is considered to be one of the most influential factors forgetting paid on time. The greater number of payments options your recipient receives, the more likely your invoice gets paid on time. Digital payment methods, even for traditional businesses will do a world of good for getting paid on time.

The Bottomline - Express your invoice with a bold-stern-voice

Including a headshot of the head of the company in the contact details of the invoice creates similar psychological pressure to physical presence. Personally signing the invoice (even possible on digital invoices) psychologically influences the recipient to feel compelled to pay akin to a personal interaction asking for payment.

Easy-to-find direct contact details of a designate able to answer billing queries quickly will be helpful in case your customer has questions. Studies indicate the inclusion of a “thank you” in the invoice signature increases the probability of on time payment.

The Color Scheme - Play the psychological game

Studies indicate that the psychology of colours plays a great deal in getting things done to your liking. Blue is associated with trustworthiness, Turquoise is the best colour for attention-grabbing words such as “second notice.” Turquoise is not a frequently used colour and hence will help you stand out that much more. Purple is another great option highly favored by women. Darker shades of purple indicate firmness and competence. It is prudent to avoid yellow and brown, on invoices as a best practice.

If you need assistance in designing your invoice document or need help with setting up digital payment modes for your traditional business, please do not hesitate to contact us at IBHYA on +918939998998

Emails have become the primary mode of communication to most businesses nowadays. If you are not able to write emails that get the attention you think they deserve, then you can be sure that your business is not getting the same either.

For some businesses, most of their customers start online and faltering on the most important mode of communication is not the modus operandi to succeed.

The following tips will help you perfect your emails for maximum effectiveness

  1. Personal Emails - Your email address is your identity. Stick to the use of a single email address. Whether you use Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook does not matter if you stick to one for a long time

  2. Business Emails - For a business nothing underlines credibility than an email address from a domain the business owns. If your shop name is zedof, your emails will be more credible with [email protected] than [email protected] Personal emails are simply not cut out for business

  3. Subject - Most people (includes me) decide whether to open an email by just the subject line alone and since around 70% of emails are read on mobile devices, it is better to Keep your subject short and to the point. "Invoice December 2014 Airtel Broadband" is a very good example.

  4. Length of Emails - A time tested rule of thumb is to keep email word count to less than 150 and keeping to not more than five or six sentences is a must

  5. Signature - Make sure to sign your emails without fail. Email signatures announce the authority and ingenuity of the sender. Make sure your email signature consists of the following (or most of it as appropriate). Name, designation, Address, Phone number, working hours, Social contacts (Linked in, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus etc)

  6. Tone - Always write your emails with a respectful tone; even if you do not receive it back.

  7. Replies - Make sure you reply to emails within the first 24 hour period. If a resolution for the issue mentioned in the email is not possible within the 24 hour period a reply back asking for more time to resolve the issue would be more appropriate

  8. Checking – Always check your emails for grammatical and contextual errors. Twice

  9. Addressee - Address your emails to only the party intended. Be mindful of Reply, Reply All, BCC and CC

  10. Communication mode - Keep your emails direct. Try not to touch your nose around your head.

SCENARIO PLANNING

Act now to foresee the future

Scenario planning enables organizations to rehearse the future, to stroll through the battlefield even before the war materializes so that they are better prepared to face it. Scenario planning is not about predicting future events but in helping businesses understand the forces that shape future developments.

Scenario planning challenges assumptions and enables leaders to manage uncertainty and risk. Scenarios help companies to understand the dynamics of the business environment, recognize new opportunities, assess strategic options, and take long-term decisions and by systematically imagining tomorrow, it promotes sophisticated responsive strategic thinking about the current situation to detect and understand changes.

• Scenarios are not predictions: They are used to understand the forces shaping the future. It is about understanding the general direction in which it is moving and why, and not about knowing exactly what the future will be.

• Plan and structure the scenario process. Define stakeholders by agreeing who will be involved.

• Discuss possible futures. Work back from a possible view of the future.

• Develop the scenarios in greater detail.

• Analyze the scenarios. Why they might occur, what you would do if they did.

• Use the scenarios to shape decisions and priorities.

Companies like Shell and Apple which have used scenario planning wisely have responded with great agility compared to their competitors while facing challenges that could have broken them and have grown multi-fold.

Handling Customer Dissatisfaction like a Professional - The Starbucks Way - With the LATTE

The following gives you an insight into how to effectively handle customer dissatisfaction and come out on top if you have messed up and want to work towards making things right and could not figure what to do exactly.

Starbucks resolves all customer dissatisfaction issues with the LATTE.

Wait! What? Latte? isn't that just coffee? A coffee chain solving its customer issues with coffee? Really innovative? This doesn't apply to my business as I do not own a coffee chain or do I serve coffee to my customers.

Before you prematurely decide to judge the usability of this strategy to your business, please read it completely. The following principle is universal.

Starbucks resolves customer dissatisfaction wіth L-A-T-T-E.

L - Listen

A - Acknowledge

T - Thank

T - Taking Action

E - Explain

Let us see each of these in detail.

In order meet уоur customer needs, уоu muѕt LISTEN

Whаt аrе customers ѕауіng аbоut уоur products оr services?

Hоw dо thеу feel аbоut whаt уоu hаvе dоnе аnd whаt уоu аrе doing?

Whеn Jcpenny decided tо replace coupons wіth everyday lоw prices, іt wаѕ а disaster!. Customers stopped visiting thеіr stores аnd thе company bled frоm іtѕ seams. Jcpenny wanted tо model іtѕ nеw pricing structure аftеr Apple. But, thеу nеvеr asked fоr customer feedback bеfоrе making ѕuсh а rash decision. Jcpenny struggles tо stay afloat. But, іt wоuld hаvе bееn bеttеr іf thеу hаd listened tо whаt customers hаd tо say. Yоu muѕt listen.

However, listening doesn’t mеаn аnуthіng іf уоu don’t ACKNOWLEDGE thеrе іѕ а problem.

Let’s tаkе а lооk аt Victoria Secret’s perfect body campaign. Thеу acknowledged wrong dоіng аnd wе forgave them. But, BP mаdе а mistake thеу mау nеvеr recover from. Thеу spilled oil, killed а lot оf fish, аnd hurt business.

Surprisingly, bеfоrе media exposure, thеу wеrе ѕауіng “It’s аѕ safe аѕ Dawn dishwashing liquid.” Sоmе ѕау thаt BP gоt аwау wіth іt . However, I can’t bе ѕо sure.

Onсе уоu hаvе acknowledged уоur mistake, уоu muѕt THANK thе customer fоr putting uр wіth уоur foolishness.

McDonald’s gave free coffee tо customers fоr twо weeks. It wаѕ а power move tо gеt mоrе breakfast traffic аnd curb thе increasing negative perceptions оf fast food chains. Customers аррrесіаtе McDonald’s efforts. But, thanking isn’t enough.

TAKING ACTION іѕ thе mоѕt important step оf thеm all.

Victoria Secret pulled іtѕ controversial advertisement. And, McDonald’s іѕ making efforts tо add mоrе healthy choices tо thеіr menu. Customers ѕtіll shop. However, I bet уоu аrе wondering hоw L-A-T-T-E affects уоur copy. Well, it’s simple аѕ this.

You’ve gоt tо EXPLAIN yourself.

Business writing іѕ lіkе а musical in which уоur customer plays thе lead. You have to respond positively with your PR on the actions taken to rectify past mistakes and avoiding the same or related errors from happening in the future. Positive proactive PR is key.

Now do you feel like Starbucks' LATTE could help you with your business success?

Nine Simple Rules to Run any Business

Keep calm in the face of volatility.

Keep good company.

Keep your focus.

Keep costs low.

Keep employee incentives simple.

Keep out of trouble.

Keep your undervalued stock to yourself.

Keep it small.

Keep your reputation.