IT'S ALL FREE! The Effective Invoice

What makes an invoice effective?  It's an invoice that contains enough information for prompt payment and serves as a marketing tool as well.  I'll even give you a free sample of an effective invoice.

Before we talk about the invoice, expect to fill out and return a W9 IRS form.  Many firms will not process invoices unless they have your form on file.  If you haven't already completed this form, you'll need to include your tax ID number on the invoice.

Let's look at the components of an effective invoice. 

*Make sure that you call the invoice an invoice.  This may seem obvious, but the lack of this word may delay your payment.

*Date the invoice for the day you will mail it.

*Include contact information for both you and your contact person at the firm (the attorney, secretary, legal nurse consultant, etc.) on the invoice.  You'll need the name of your business, your name, your mailing address, your phone number, and email address.  In the "To" section, include the same information (you can exclude the email address) as well as the name and title of your contact person.

*If your state taxes your services, be sure to add the tax to your invoice.  For example, New Mexico has a gross receipts tax on consulting and expert services.  

*Include information about your payment terms and fees.  This should be a reminder of the terms listed on your fee schedule.

*Create a separate invoice for each case because law firms track information by the case.  Include the case name and the file number that the firm has assigned to it.  If it's a defense case, include the insurance claim number, if known.

*Identify the specific services that you performed such as medical record review, expert location, medical research, telephone conferences, etc.  For telephone conferences, add the person you spoke with and the date of the conference.  For medical records, list the dates of the records.  For example, identify the record as September 4, 2010 admission to XYZ Hospital.  That way, if you later bill for additional medical records for the same health care provider, it won't look as if you are billing twice.

*Include the amount due for each line item and the total amount.

*Add as many payment options as you can.  The law firm may pay your invoice quicker if you accept checks, PayPal, and credit cards.

*Remember to thank your clients for their business.

*Include marketing information, such as your logo. List other services that you provide. List all no-charge items. List discounts, if any, as a separate line item.

Wow!  That's a lot of information to include on one piece of paper.  Don't worry; you can do it as seen on this sample invoice.  I used a Microsoft Word template and customized it to make it an effective invoice for legal nurse consulting.

...Katy Jones