THE INTERMOUNTAIN PI BLOG | 6/2/2020 | 10 BILLING PRACTICES FOR PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS
Most small private investigation businesses fail for one reason and one reason only: lack of cash flow. Similar to attorneys, private investigators typically bill by the hour. To that end, let’s look at 10 billing practices for private investigators that will help you maintain proper funding.
1. GET PAID UP FRONT Especially when it involves both domestic investigations and new clients. It’s a lesson you’ll take to heart the first time a client stiffs you.
2. INVOICE IMMEDIATELY As in right away. As in, the same day you finish your client’s case. To paraphrase former Chicago mayor William Thompson, “Bill early and bill often.” It’s just one more way to keep the cash flowing. Time really is money. Which brings me to #3…
3. EMAIL YOUR INVOICES Never send an invoice through the mail. It can get lost. Plus, it can take weeks to get paid. Instead, send it by email.
4. EMAIL YOUR INVOICE DIRECTLY In other words, email your invoice directly to the person responsible for cutting the checks. It’s just another way to get paid quicker.
5. 2/10 NET 30 #5 of my 10 billing practices for private investigators is 2/10 Net 30. This is an invoice term whereby a customer receives a 2% discount by paying the invoice within 10 days or paying the full amount within 30 days. Offering clients discounts for paying early can improve your cash flow.
6. MAKE IT EASY FOR CLIENTS TO PAY It should be easy peasy for clients to pay you. That means accepting domestic bank wires, PayPal, Venmo, credit cards, etc.
7. AUTOMATE YOUR INVOICE REMINDERS Like Ron Popeil’s infomercial featuring the Showtime Rotisserie, “Set it and Forget it! “ I have three separate automated invoice reminders set to go. For example, if your invoice is due in 30 days and you fail to receive payment, then an invoice reminder should automatically go out by email on day 31.
8. KNOW YOUR CLIENT’S PAY CYCLE Most companies cut checks on a regular basis. For example, every Friday. Or on the 15th of each month. Find out when your client cuts checks and make sure you get your invoice to them before that date. This will help make your cash flow more predictable.
9. BRAND YOUR INVOICES Believe it or not, client’s are more likely to pay when you add a company logo to your invoice. Don’t ask me why. Furthermore, I understand that using the colors blue and green in your invoice can make your client’s pay faster. Again, don’t ask me why. And finally,
10. USE AN INVOICE SYSTEM This really should be #1. There are plenty of options to choose from. For instance, Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Square, PayPal, etc. You need a good system to keep track of your money. Especially as your business grows. Using the back of an envelope to keep track of your accounting will only cause problems.
Until next time, this is Private Investigator Scott Fulmer reminding you the game…is afoot
SCOTT FULMER IS A 30-YEAR VETERAN PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR AND THE PRINCIPAL AT INTERMOUNTAIN PI. HE IS AUTHOR OF THE TRUE CRIME MEMOIR, CONFESSIONS OF A PRIVATE EYE AND A DECORATED COMBAT VETERAN OF THE 1990/1991 GULF WAR. HE HAS A DEGREE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND IS A MEMBER OF THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS ASSOCIATION OF UTAH. SCOTT LIVES IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS NEAR THE CROSSROADS OF THE WEST IN HISTORIC SALT LAKE CITY. HE’S AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA APPEARANCES: MEDIA@INTERMOUNTAINPI.COM.
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