Posted - 24/01/11 | 0 Comments

Bill of the Week: It was so big it arrived in a box

What’s the biggest bill you’ve ever received? Not the value … but the amount of paper it was printed on? Three pages, four … five maybe?

For 23-year-old graphic designer Justine Ezarik, the bill was so big, it arrived in its own box.

It ran to a mind boggling three hundred pages and detailed her iPhone usage. The reason? Apparently, no bill preference option had been suggested, so the telephone network included the minutiae of traffic detail. And the bill was only for 275 dollars!

Justine – who also happened to be a comedian too – created a video about the bill that went on to become an Internet sensation and clocked up over 2.8 million hits on YouTube. The video ends with the telling message: Use e-billing. Save a forest.

Or as we’d put it … use Clear, the home of paperless billing.

With Clear, your bill can be one page or 300 pages long – but you only print what you need. Everything can be viewed, queried, downloaded, printed, marked as paid and much more … all through the convenience of a Web browser. No boxes!


Posted - 20/01/11 | 0 Comments

Tone up your collections – Part 2: Make your invoices "process friendly"

So what is the key to getting big companies to pay you on time? This article focuses on one of the simple and immediate things you can do to ensure your invoice gets VIP treatment from your customer.

Most big companies have a payment process. If you plug into it correctly then you should find that payment pops out at the other end on time. So let’s focus on this.

Big companies who have anything approaching good processes will either have an established manual invoice approval process or an automated process done by software. The process usually involves matching a purchase order, with a receipt notice and an invoice. This is often referred to as the 3-way match. Companies generally have a rigorous approval process for issuing purchase orders. So if the purchase order has been correctly approved and the receipt notice says they have received the correct goods and the invoice is for the amount on the purchase order, invoices normally get approved as a matter of process without having to be referred to anyone. If this is done by software processing an electronic invoice then approval can happen instantly the e-invoice arrives. This doesn’t mean you ‘˜ll get paid any quicker. But it does give you an even chance of getting paid on time.

So the lesson here is be ‘process friendly’ when you send your invoices in. Here are the things to watch: make sure you include a purchase order number. If you have a supplier number or code on the customers system find out what it is and include that. Make sure you format the invoice so that it can be easily reconciled to the purchase order noting that multi line purchase orders often have a separate order code for each line. Finally ensure you invoice contains all the things it legally needs – VAT at the correct rate, a VAT number, an invoice date and an invoice number. If anything  in this ‘process friendly’ list is missing or wrong then your invoice is likely to fail at the 3-way match and then you are outside the process – something different has to happen to get the invoice approved – someone has to do something. Start counting the days because your chances of being paid on time have just taken a big knock. On the other hand if your invoice is all in order so that it passes the 3-way match without question then you are half way there.

Next we’ll look at what to do if the invoice is all OK and you are not getting paid.


Posted - 09/01/11 | 0 Comments

Toning up your collections – Part 1: How the big guys try and bully the small guys

It’s 2011 already. A new year means new years resolutions and we thought we would make one that we could share with all of you. Our resolution is let’s all tone up. No not our waist line but our processes and discipline for collecting what people owe us on time. The theory is simple: you delivered that service or product on time, it does what you said it would do and your customer agreed in the T&Cs to pay you in 30 days. So 30 days later the money is in your bank right? Wrong! According to Experian, UK business as a whole pays its bill just over 23 days late!!

Whilst Clear provides you with some great tools for organising and managing prompt collections, there are lots of other techniques you can employ to ensure you are not put in a position to be chasing late payment.

In the first blog of this series we are going to use a recent case study to illustrate why sending bills out and waiting for return payment is not a strategy.

According to The Daily Telegraph, Invensys Rail has told key UK contractors they will have to wait up to twice as long to be paid. 

Apparently, it’s a case of bringing payment terms ‘˜in line’ with company terms … which means payments two months after the month in which the invoice was raised, according to the report.  

Of course, this shunts cash flow pressures down the line to the smaller companies that are coupled to the business. 

And they’re feeling it. The Telegraph quotes one supplier saying: “Invensys was already one of the worst payers on 55 days and now it’s another 30 days.” 

So the first subject we are going to tackle in the next article in this series how to get through to the big guys who won’t pay on time.

In the meantime, take solace from the fact that there are not many like Invensys out there and fortunately, this doesn’t happen so easily with Clear. Every Clear invoice gets there two days faster than a posted invoice and is automatically stamped with your preferred payment terms. And if there are delays, then Clear can chase up payments automatically on your behalf. Usually that is enough.

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