Invoicing your Clients
Creating, submitting, and following up
If you’re anything like me, you might hate sending out invoices to parents and schools each month. It’s probably the single most unenjoyable part about what I do, but a complete necessity. I have to get paid. Getting organized can be quite the struggles, so here are some ideas to help you manage your billing and (hopefully) get paid faster!
Step 1: Creating
With schools having different lesson pricing or students being on scholarships/financial assistance, keeping up with the constant changes can be quite the headache. Trying to input ALL of my lesson pricing into a Quickbook type invoicing system gets pretty tedious. I’ve just kept it simple by using Google Spreadsheets.
Now before you judge my simplicity, I’ve actually changed my method of invoicing lesson students since the creation of theOmnisApp, my online teaching management tool. If you’re a lesson teacher and wanting to save time each month with invoicing, scheduling, and more, be sure to check out our software tool! Try a 40-day trial and see if it’s fit for your lesson studio.
For the band programs I teach at, I usually send invoices out by the end of each month, expecting payment sometime in the following month. I use one of Google’s invoicing templates, with some minor tweaks. Here’s what mine usually look like for the techwork and masterclasses that I teach. I’ve also included a sample lesson invoice for those who are stuck in their spreadsheet ways 😉 Feel free to copy away!
Sample Contract Invoice for Schools/Organizations:
Sample Lesson Invoice for Clients:
Link to sample lesson invoice:
How to Copy/Download:
To copy the spreadsheets above, visit the attached Google links and select ‘Make a Copy’ if you want to make changes in your personal Google account.
You can also click ‘Download as’ to save a Microsoft Excel Sheet and adjust from there.
Be sure to check out the notes in certain fields! Remember, these are setup with how I run my business, you may alter in anyway to fit your needs.
Step 2: Submitting
Try to get in the habit of submitting ALL of your invoices around the same date each month. For me, I usually try and create by the 25th of each month and send out by the 1st. I always work backwards from the date I want to get paid on, always giving parents enough time to come up with the payment. The standard rule and common courtesy is to give clients at least 15 days to make a payment. For example, if I wanted to get paid by the 10th of every month by clients, I would create invoices the by the 20th and submit by the 25th, expecting payment by the 10th. Having a system in place will keep parent’s on top of payments and money in your bank account!
For schools or organizations, you may not have much control over when you’re going to get paid. This usually depends on the booster club’s treasurer or school district’s payroll service. Be sure to ask the organization’s director about how this may work! I usually get paid much faster when it goes through the booster club, so I recommend making friends with the treasure :) I had a situation last fall where I sent an email directly to the booster’s treasure and had a check written for me the day of. Lifesaving.
Lastly, be sure to keep record of your invoices. I would keep a folder of Open vs. Received. This way you know exactly what’s been paid up. When a payment is received, simply move it over from the Open to Received folder. You’ll appreciate this come mid-summer when you’re unsure if you received a check from a school sent back in May.
Step 3: Following up
Ahhh and now for my favorite part of the process… the follow up. As a lesson teacher, or contract worker in general, you’re going to have parent’s who don’t pay you on time or possibly not at all! I’ve left money on the table over the past years by simply not staying organized or not wanting to bother the parent or school for payments. It's a very bad habit that I needed to shake. Here’s what I’ve done and currently do to cut down on the overdue or unreceived payments:
Send a payment reminder 7 days before the due date to ALL clients (mass email)
Send an additional reminder 1–3 days prior to due date to clients who haven’t made a payment (mass email to individuals)
Send a payment reminder email 3–5 days after the due date to clients who haven’t submitted payments (mass email to individuals)
Send individual emails 7–10 days after the due date to those who haven’t made payments or contacted you about payments
I recommend making phone calls after day 10 if you haven’t heard from anyone. If you’re not too fond of phone calls, try sending a text message or even hard copy home with the student of the invoice with an overdue notice attached. Be sure to have a strictly written payment policy in your lesson contract. I started placing late fees on overdue lesson payments… I have yet to enforce this, but have it just in case!
As much as we hate it, we have to play bill collector as self-employed individuals, at the end of the day, you’re running a business. Hopefully the bombardment of emails will help prompt timely payments. Remember that most parents just forget! Don’t take it personal. Stay professional by being proactive with the gentle reminders and DON’T BLAME THE STUDENT… keep the lessons positive.
Here’s a sample email I usually send out a week before due dates:
Overall, it’s super simple and to the point. There are three things I include: 1.) due date, 2.) payment methods, and 3.) the prompt.
The prompt is usually a link to the OMNIS login page. This could also be a link to your PayPal.me page or to an online invoice. I’ve found that if I can make a simple ‘call-to-action’ through a click-here option to make a payment, parents are more likely submit it upon opening.
Again, get in the habit of sending these out around the same dates. Expect people to NOT pay you on time. It’s part of the gig, but if you stay proactive and communicate with parents, your chances of getting paid increases IMMENSELY.
To sum of my monthly billing schedule here’s example action plan: - March 10th- Create - March 15th- Submit - March 25th- Reminder #1 (ALL) - March 30th- Reminder #2 (those who haven’t paid) - April 4th- Reminder #3 (those who haven’t paid) - April 10th- Reminder #4 (individual emails) - April 15th- Phone calls and/or hard copies sent out
Luckily, theOmnisApp does most of the reminding for you. Payment reminders will be automatically sent to parents three days before the invoice is due, the day of the due date, and three days after the due date.
I hope this help! There is plenty of online content or programs that help with invoicing. What are some ways you approach your billing madness? Any method you recommend or value? Submit a comment below and join in on the conversation!