As an auto detailer, sooner or later you are bound to run into a customer who will request a receipt or ask you to send them an invoice. Especially when dealing with larger accounts, this is a scenario to be prepared for, but they don’t have to be difficult to produce.
The practice of invoicing and providing receipts can help separate you from other detailers in your area. While it’s a small thing that many auto detailers don’t use, it can help to establish trust after you provide services, and also provides a record for your clients they may need for bookkeeping.
In this post, I will break down why invoices and receipts are important as an auto detailer as you grow, where to find software or resources for creating them to send to your customers.
Why do you need an invoice for auto detailing services?
If you are dealing with large corporate accounts or washing fleet vehicles, sometimes the owner of the business that you are detailing for will request invoice for their own records as a simple reminder to pay you for services. This is standard practice in any business that provides services, so it is important that you have at least a basic paper invoice on hand or know how to produce one in the event that you deal with larger accounts.
Invoices ensure you get paid for your wash and detailing services
Invoices are legally binding agreements that establish when payment is due. Since many businesses operate under ‘Net 30’ payment terms, the due date essentially would be 30 days from the date the service was performed.
Invoices also should include the payment method(s) you accept for work performed, and should include the services performed at the price you initially quoted for your client.
Creating an invoice as an auto detailer
There are several software products and apps for detailers like OctopusPro that will automatically generate invoices for any type of detailing work, and are customizable to suit the services that you offer.
If you focus mainly on small B2C clients, most of the time you don’t need to worry about invoices, but if you ever decide to wash fleet vehicles or semi-trucks (for example) you’ll want to make sure you are able to provide them.
If you use accounting software like QuickBooks to keep track of inventory the invoicing forms are already built-in. As you grow, you will probably need some sort of point of sale (POS) system to collect payment, and these products also have invoicing built in. That being, said there are tons of free invoicing templates you can Google or inside Microsoft Word that you can print out have on-hand in your van or truck.
A few things you may want to include on this invoice as a detailer are:
- Methods of payment you accept
- The customer’s name, address, and other information
- What services were performed
- The agreed-upon cost of the detailing services performed
- Hours worked (if hourly)
- Your logo, phone number, billing address, website, or other channels of communication
Creating Receipts for your Auto Detailing Business
One thing to know about creating receipts, is that they’re usually needed for accounting if a client is writing off the services you provide (typical in some industries). Even though paper receipts are slowly losing popularity, always being able to produce at least a digital copy of a receipt is important. If you’re not using anything other than spreadsheets to keep track of your income and expenses, having a copy of each receipt can be helpful. A few things to include on a receipt are:
- A description of the cleaning or detailing services performed
- How much your customer was charged for each service
- The sales tax rate
- Any balance due
- Any discounts applied
- The method of payment
- The invoice number (if applicable)
- Your hourly rate (if applicable) and the number of hours worked
- Your signature and the date
Like invoice templates, there are numerous receipt templates you can download and edit with Microsoft Word for a similar product, or you can even buy a receipt book if you are a beginner. As you grow, I recommend graduating to software like a POS system that can take care of this process for you.
Using a POS to Generate Invoices, Receipts, and Collect Payment
Like I mentioned earlier, a point-of-sale system (especially one designed for auto detailing) will be all you need to create receipts, invoices, schedule your appointments, collect payments, as well as manage all of your contacts.
If you are looking what type of software you may need, check out the post I recently wrote: Car Wash Software 101: POS, Booking, Marketing & More!
Many of these POS solutions I’ve found are designed specifically for detailers, like:
- DetailPro POS
- Octopus Pro
- mobiletech rx
- Bella FSM
If you’re a beginner, Square is also a good option for basic invoicing. They also have a free mobile app that will allow you to produce invoices and receipts, accept credit cards, and even email receipts to customers after they pay you. Since wet paper and detailing don’t really mix, try a few of these apps out. Some solutions will even send you automatic alerts when an invoice is past due.
The beauty of keeping everything inside software is the fact that you can produce the documents you need in an automated way. By collecting a customer’s email, name, and address before work begins, you have multiple channels for following up and making sure you and your crew get paid.
To conclude, the main thing to know about producing invoices or receipts is that it really helps set your auto detailing business apart from the rest. Even if your customers don’t ask for receipts, it’s still not a bad idea to hand these out. If a large corporate account gives you a shot at washing their fleet, they may be on the lookout for this type of formality or professionalism when evaluating your business.
Once you have a good invoicing/receipt process, you can get in the habit of asking customers if they would like a copy of their receipt or invoice delivered via email.
This is a good time to also ask if they would also prefer to receive promotional emails (if you use email marketing software). Just be sure to notate whether or not they have verbally given you permission to send them more than just a receipt (per GDPR legislation).
Have any ideas or tips related to paperwork like invoices or receipts in your detailing business? Let me know :)