Emailing Invoices

Recently we wrote about being more efficient. Now we’re back at it with another tip.

Tip: Emailing invoices is a great way to save money and become more efficient.

First off, it saves paper and in this day and age we should all be working toward that mentality.

Secondly, it saves money. No more paper for invoices, people spending time printing those invoices, wear and tear on the printer, which then incurs cost. It also means no more purchasing and stuffing those envelopes, which saves time and materials.

Also, keep in mind while one stamp is relatively inexpensive, the cost of a thousand can add up very quickly.

On the other hand, our accounting software Cyltech can process the invoices for you. With a little bit of setup, daily and rental invoices as well as statements can be automatically sent with out anyone having to lift a finger or even remember to do it for that matter.

Have questions or suggestions? Let us know by sending an email!

Going Green

All of us know that we need to be responsible with our natural resources and with our bank accounts. What does this look like? This might look like changing the light bulbs to LEDs (which are much more efficient and last significantly longer) or maybe turning off some of those unused lights... It might also look like setting up recycling for the company. Regardless, the big idea here is to start thinking about the impact of how we do business. The next two points are some ideas to hopefully get you started.

1. Go paperless: This is one of the things I say all the time and that’s because it has so many benefits. First, with no more paper and automatic backups set to run, critical files are never lost. So scan the important documents and setup a real-time automatic backup. Second, you’re helping the environment while saving money. Consider the following statistic: 39% of copies are thrown in the trash... so why not email that file? Or scan that document into the digital filing system (where everyone has access without printing) and recycle the paper.

This can also look like going paperless on bills. Most companies these days will send a digital version of an invoice (many encourage this) and many like receiving a digital version. When the bill is emailed, it's there immediately and there's no money spent on paper, postage, or envelopes. If you're a vendor, with a good accounting system, the invoicing process can be automated. Invoices could be processed and emailed out automatically without anybody getting involved other than the initial entry.

At a bare minimum, going paperless makes a company more efficient, but in the long road it can make a company more profitable and environmentally friendly.

2. Alternative energy: Solar Power. I know that solar can be a large upfront cost but, if the plan is to stay in the same location for a while, it can easily be looked at as an investment. First, we’re talking free energy. That means no longer paying the power company for electricity or at least not all of it. Second, with enough solar panels, the power company will start paying for the excess energy that is sent back onto the grid. This helps the bank account and the environment. 

There are companies that will cover the roof in solar panels and even create covered parking with solar panels. Installing panels on the roof is pretty much permanent. Covered parking is fantastic, but that is definitely a much more permanent and costly solution. While these options are great for the companies that have the bank accounts to fund them, they're not always practical for everyone to implement. Let's say you're not planning on staying for a long time, maybe just a year or a couple of years. Smaller panels can be mounted on the outside of a building (much like hanging a sign) and used to power smaller setups. Think powering some computers and maybe the lights, but not necessarily a server room.

Again, the main point of this article is not about the above two points, but more so to get us thinking about the impact of how we do business. These ideas are just two ways of many that a company could be more efficient and environmentally friendly, while saving money.

Cutting Cost

Who doesn’t want to save money? At the end of the day, we all want to cut cost where we can, but don’t always know of all the ways that we can save money or at least get the most bang-for-our-buck. Thus, in my "spare” time, I’ve been looking for ways to cut cost. Now I’d like to share a few of those ideas that I’ve stumbled across. This list will by no means be all the ideas that I found (I’ll share those later), but this is merely a starting point to get the cogs turning.

The big idea behind this list is Multi-tasking.

  • Multi-purpose Mailing – Are you still sending out paper invoices? Well, you should be pushing for paperless invoicing, but that’s a topic for a different article. For those customers that still prefer to be sent a paper copy of their invoice, start sending promotional material with the invoice. Therefore, instead of sending two different mailings, one mailing can play double duty. This will save on postage, envelopes, and labor cost.
  • Pay Online – This is a multi part section. First of all, paying online is quick and immediate. It saves time, by not having to stuff envelopes, and money on postage, envelopes, checks, ink, etc. The next point would be that, by paying online, you’ll be able to set up auto-pay (where possible). I know auto-pay doesn’t work in every scenario and that some people still don’t like the idea of auto-pay, but it saves time, and in turn money, and can free up accounting to perform more important task. Lastly, by paying online and early, you may be able to get a discount. Ask your suppliers and distributors if they’ll give a discount for paying early and don’t be afraid to start negotiating (this is more common than you may think).
  • Buying in Bulk – How is this multi-tasking? Well, we all have to sign something at some point or maybe make notes the old fashioned way and we also have to market our company. You don’t have to look very far to find a company that is trying to sell you something with your logo on it. Many times these companies are selling pens at or around the price that you can buy them in the store. So, why not buy some pens with the company logo on them that team members can use and that can be passed around to potential clients. Two birds with one stone.

While some of these ideas may seem like small changes, over time they can make a big impact. Having normal daily task pull double duty or, in the case of auto-pay, perform the duty for you, is simply a mind set of cutting cost and saving money wherever possible. As I said in the intro, this list is simply meant to get the cogs turning and hopefully spark an idea that will keep more money in your bank account and less going out on checks.

Get Organized

I was trying to create an article for a newsletter and it wasn't going well. I was drawing a blank and then it hit me while I was staring at my computer. Recently I have been reorganizing my computer files. I'm typically an organized person, but over the years I've collected a massive amount of files due to video and image editing. It was now time for me to restructure and purge those files that were no longer needed. 

A few things I realized were:

1. Be Centralized
Keep all your files in a centralized location. This simply means don’t have some folders on the desktop, some in the My Documents folder, some on an external drive, etc. I recommend having one location for all folders and then creating the Root folders within that centralized location. This will make locating a file easier (no more using the search bar to find a file) and, if the need arises, transferring all those important files means you copy and paste 1 folder not 100.

2. Start with a good root folder
I've created hundreds of videos over the last few years. All of these videos have a raw format, a finished format, and a handful of other files. Keeping all that organized can get overwhelming. To fix this issue, I created a root folder for videos within my central location (My Documents, Dropbox, an external drive, etc.). I then created sub-folders for each of our offerings and within that a folder for each video. This setup keeps me from having to search through every file for one video and keeps me from having to go through twenty sub-folders to find a specific file. 

3. Don’t be afraid to change
Like anything else in business, the setup created today may not work next year. Getting organized is just the first step. You may realize soon after everything is organized that there is a better way. Figure out what works for your specific situation, what helps you to be most efficient and effective at your job. 

At the end of the day, everyone’s organization will look a little different. The naming structure needs to make sense to the user and the folder layout needs to fit the needs of whoever is using it. If this is one person it’s relatively simple. If it’s a team, then it becomes a little more complex and might require a couple of conversations. Spending the time to get organized will help, in the long run, to save time and in-turn money.  

Let customers do the work

Paperless invoices and online payments
Running a business efficiently and productively in good times will be even more beneficial when the economy is slow. The two key words in that sentence are efficiently and productively. The past few years have taught us the importance of doing more with less. Below are few ways to get more work done with less effort.

Paper No More
First, stop mailing out paper invoices. Paper invoices are kind of like VHS tapes. There was a time and a place for them, but there are more efficient ways of delivering your invoices, like email. I know, I’ve heard it before: customers don’t want e-mailed invoices. I am sure some customers fall into that category, but not all of them. Remember, there is an entire generation of iPhone users taking over businesses and they don’t want paper. 

As the possibility of e-mailing invoices is considered, think of all the associated costs with paper invoices: paper, printer ink, envelopes, people to put invoices into the envelope, and postage to mail the invoices. For every thousand invoices sent out each month, a company is likely to be spending a minimum of $500.

Put the Customers to Work
Let the customers do all the work by paying their invoices online. Most major companies encouraging customers to pay their bills online. Why? Because that means the workload is now carried by the customer. They don’t have to receive the check, mark the account number on it, send it to accounts receivable for posting, and then carry the checks to the bank for deposit. The customer service angle is great, because now the customers can pay their bills when it is convenient for them. The smaller the customer, the more they will like this feature, because a smaller customers could go home, eat supper and then sit down and pay the bill online. To make it even easier for them, a link can be put in the e-mail when the invoices are sent. They simply have to click on the link, which will take them directly to the online payment system. 

Keeping Transactions Secure
To accept online payments, there must be a merchant account and the appropriate web software that allows for the payments to be accepted. The merchant account would handle the security issues, such as the liability of handling and storing credit card information.

Note: The distributor will need a secure certificate, this will appear as a lock on the website.

The merchant account would approve the requests for payment. At that point, the approval amount, approval number and the invoices being paid will be sent to the distributor via e-mail. 

From a security standpoint, the distributor never sees the credit card, therefore payment will be confirmed by the approval number. Because of federal regulations, distributors must be extremely careful with credit card information. There should be no need to upgrade the host software, given that many online payment applications are web-based.  

This article originally appeared in the Second Quarter, Spring 2011 issue of Welding & Gases Today Copyright ©Data Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.