Jerry Seinfeld had a great bit about how, when people are ordering food at a restaurant, they’re ready to splurge and spare no expense, but when the bill comes around, they’re tired and bloated asking, “Who ordered this?” That’s more or less true of all bills, including yours. There are ways to soften the blow.
First, the bill should feel like it comes from you and your business. Spruce it up with your logo and company colors. It reminds your clients that they’re not just sending their little green rectangles out the window, but paying you because you help them.
Second, it should make them feel like your client. Give them a little box with their information in it. You can even give them a client number, status (“Plus Subscriber”), and include since what date they’ve been your client.
Third, it should include your contact information. No one likes getting a bill and feeling like you couldn’t get in touch with the payee even if you wanted to. It makes people feel forced.
Fourth, it should include a current list of all of their regularly occurring services. People won’t usually look at it, but one day they’ll wonder what they’re paying for and they’ll look to their most recent bill. It’s also a subtle reminder of what you do that they don’t otherwise notice.
Fifth, it shouldn’t be really long. You might think that you’re being thorough or that showing your client how valuable you are, but if you’re sending them the equivalent of one of those 3-foot receipts from the supermarket or those four-double-sided-page bills from the phone company, they’ll dread opening it.
Especially if a client is prepaying hours, you don’t need to list all the month’s minutiae. (Remember of course that you still need to have that recorded.) Generally it will suffice to say, “You have used 4.5 out of 5 prepaid support hours” and “a more detailed bill is available upon request.” If they go over, then an explanation is warranted.