In this section I want to go over the different ways to collect payments, send receipts and how to create and send out quotes.
In my business I accept cash, checks and credit cards. While I rather accept cash and checks, credit cards are a must. If you don’t accept credit cards you will lose out on a lot of business from customers that don’t have any actual money outside of credit, or you will be waiting 1-2 weeks to collect from people that can’t pay at the very moment. By accepting all three methods of payment, I collect 90% of all payments the same day and the remaining 10% usually within 3 days after the job is complete.
Here are the steps you can take to start accepting credit cards today.
- Before you can sign up for a credit card merchant account, you must first have a Tax ID number. If you already created a Tax ID number, you can skip to the next step. A Tax ID number is also known as an EIN number, which we talked about earlier in this course. It let’s the IRS keep track of payments made to your business. If you don’t have a registered business, don’t worry, you can still get a Tax ID number (EIN). Your EIN number is like your social security number but for business.
- To get an EIN number go to the IRS website and start the process here – https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online
- If you don’t have a business, register as a Sole Proprietor (Includes individuals who are in business for themselves and household employers.)
- Answer the rest of the questions and then choose to receive your new EIN number electronically. This is the number you will use to sign up for your credit card processing merchant account.
- I suggest that you at least register for a DBA in your city/town and use this EIN number instead of your social security number to register it.
- Go to https://squareup.com/ and sign up for an account using the EIN number you just created.
- Once you create your account, squareup will send you a free card reader in the mail that you can use to accept credit card payments in person right from your mobile phone.
- If the customer isn’t home when you complete the job and wants to pay with a card, you can take their payment over the phone by keying in the card details into the squareup mobile app. Note that taking cards over the phone has a slightly higher fee per transaction because the risk of fraud is higher for the the credit card merchant, so it’s best to collect payments in person when possible.
Accepting Check Payments (not in person)
Sometimes your customer won’t be home and still wants to pay with a check. To approach this situation you have a couple options.
If I know the customer won’t be home when I come by, but wants to pay with a check, I will try to get the check same day with the following approach:
- You: “Once the job is complete, how would you like to make the payment?”
- Customer: “Do you accept checks?”
- You: “Absolutely, we prefer cash or check but also accept every major credit card if needed.”
- Customer: “Great, I can pay by check.”
- You: “Alright, and will you be home when we come by?”
- Customer: “Actually, I’ll most likely be at work during the time you come by.”
- You: “No problem! Most of our customers are at work when we come by so they usually leave the check on the door, in the mailbox or under the mat if that’s something you’re comfortable with, otherwise we can invoice you and you can mail the check after the job is complete.
Usually the customers have no problem with leaving the check somewhere on-site. If they do, they can always mail it to you, which would require you leaving an invoice on-site or emailing them the invoice.
Invoicing Your Customer
Once the job is complete and if you didn’t collect the payment on-site, you will have to invoice the customer. An invoice is basically a document that lists the service that was done, your company information, the customer information and then it lists how much is due and by when.
Creating invoices is super simple and quick. You can use an invoice generator that I’ve used many times found here – https://invoice-generator.com/. Just fill in the information and click Download invoice. Then you can either print it and leave it in the mailbox after the job is done, or you can email it. I have never personally left or mailed a physical invoice. I have always emailed my invoices, and I will talk about why I do everything via email in the next section about receipts.
In the invoice email I will attach the invoice that was generated by invoice-generator.com and let them know that they can also pay via credit card over the phone by giving me a call.
Note: If you signed up for www.housecall.io , then they have a way to send out invoices built into their system.
If you don’t mind paying a small monthly fee to help you manage and automate a lot of the invoicing and you aren’t using a service like www.housecall.io, then I would highly recommend signing up for Freshbooks.com. They have a 30 Day trial to get started. Here’s what you can do with it:
- Send out invoices to customers via email and track when they open it.
- In the invoice, you can set an option for them to pay via check, paypal, or credit card. Freshbooks has credit card processing options that you can sign up for just as quickly as you might have done with squareup.com. This will allow people to pay online on their own time without you having to take the payment over the phone. The fees to accept payments this way are also lower than over the phone.
- Once the payment is made online, or once you set the invoice as paid, they automatically receive a receipt online.
- If the payment is overdue, freshbooks will automatically send out email reminders so you don’t have to constantly call to remind the customer.
- For a very small fee, freshbooks can automatically print and mail invoices on your behalf.
- You can track how much you have in outstanding invoices, how much has been paid, and other informative reports.
Giving Payment Receipts
Everyone wants to get a receipt to prove that the job was paid for. There are two ways you can give out receipts, physical and/or digital. I always carry a receipt book on me which you can pick up for a few bucks online just in case, but I prefer and try to only give out online receipts. Let’s look at why.
- Giving out receipts via email guarantees that I actually get their email address which is super important for remarketing to them later on.
- An email receipt is like a business card that doesn’t go away. We have a ton of people that lose our business cards by the next year and end up finding our number and company name by searching “gutter cleaning” in their email which leads them to our email receipt.
Out of thousands of jobs, I’ve probably only had 2-3 people that didn’t want to give me their email or didn’t have one. Literally everyone these days has an email address that they use. People don’t like giving out emails because they think they will receive spam, so the approach is what makes or breaks your attempts. Here is the one that I use that has been super successful for me after the job is sold and scheduled:
“Alright John, and one final thing.. In an effort to go green, our company is trying to go completely paperless, so we send out all of our invoices and receipts via email. If you don’t mind, I would love to get your email on file.”
If you didn’t get the customer’s email during the scheduling process over the phone, you can get it after the job is complete. When the customer hands you a check or cash, you can ask them for their email using the same method and let them know that they will receive their receipt at the end of the day. If you are using a square reader, they will be able to insert their email in the app which will send them the email instantly. If they really have a problem with this, then write them a physical receipt on the spot with the receipt book.
To create a receipt that you can email it, you can use the same system that I mentioned for creating invoices – https://invoice-generator.com/ . You would copy all of the same information that you inserted when creating the invoice, but this time set the balance due to $0 and this will now be a receipt. Download it, attach it and email it.
Creating and Sending Quotes
Almost all quotes that I give out are given over the phone. It rarely happens, but sometimes a potential residential customer will ask me to send them the quote I gave over the phone in document format. 95% of all the quotes that I create a document for are for commercial property quotes. I email these quotes, and sometimes I fax them. For the rare times I need to fax them, I use an internet faxing service that allows me to upload the digital quote, type in their fax number and click send.
I stick to one document template for all the quotes that I send out because it works really well. You will find this quote template in this course for you to use. Let’s go over each part of the quote template:
- Business Logo and Service at the top.
- Client Section – this is where you insert the name, email, phone of the client that is paying.
- Project Section – this is where you insert the address of the location you will be working at and the name of the location if it’s a commercial project.
- Estimator Section – this is where you put your name, business name, phone number, and date of estimate.
- Description – this is where you put in the service you are offering and underneath you can go into some detailed points about what is included.
- Quantity – this is where I put the # of stories involved.
- Rate – this is where you would put the $/foot rate that you’re charging. If you just want to give a flat rate, then put the flat rate here.
- Cost – this is where the final cost of the project goes. If you chose to do a flat rate in the previous column, just insert the same number here.
- Under the description of the services provided, I like to state my insurance and how long the project will take.
- Total – this is the total cost of the project. If you list out some options they can choose from then you can put TBD in this box which stands for “to be determined”, since the final cost depends on their choices.
- Deposit – sometimes it’s smart to take a deposit. This might make sense if it’s a repair job that has a lot of expenses up front for you. A deposit can range from 10-25% on average. It’s always better not to take a deposit if you don’t need to because it will increase your chances of closing the job.
- Balance – this is the amount due if they choose you. Since they haven’t paid anything, it should match the total job amount.
- Notes – these are any extra details that they should know about your quote. I also like to use this section to go into a little more detail about the process.
- References – This is where you list out a bunch of references by name of property, address of property, name of contact at property, and phone number of contact. I usually only list out commercial projects here. This section builds credibility for your business. In the hundreds of large quotes I’ve sent out over the past few years I don’t even think anyone ever called any of these references, but they sure have helped me close some big projects.
- Acceptance of Quote section – a spot for them to add their name, date and signature which allows them to accept your quote.
- Footer – your company name, address and phone number go here. I don’t actually have a shop or office, so what I did was get a POBOX and instead of listing it as POBOX 100 Atlanta, GA 30301 I would put the street address of the post office box location like this: 1000 Main St. #100 Atlanta, GA 30301. The mail still gets to me and it looks like an actual location.
When I send out the quote, I attach the quote document in PDF format and I also attach my proof of insurance because these big jobs will always ask for it. I don’t only just send two attachments, but I take this opportunity to write up an email that will outline the job that we are going to do in great detail. Explain what you’re going to do for them, how you’re going to do it, how long it will take, why it will take that long, etc. This will make you stand out from the competition and show that you know what you’re talking about. The more detail you go into the better.
Note: If you use HouseCall.io you can easily send out quotes, view when they are opened, and allow the potential customer to accept the proposal with a click of a button.
Routing Work Days
So you’ve sold 7 jobs for Saturday. Now how do you know which order to do them in? Google maps can help you figure this out.
- Go to Google.com/maps
- Type in your home address, or from where you will be leaving to start the jobs and hit <enter>.
- Click on the Directions circle that pops up.
- Then it’s going to ask you for a starting point. Enter one of the jobs that is scheduled for that day.
- Then click on the + button and add the next address. Do this for all the addresses.
- Drag and drop your home address to the very top of the list and you will see the map reroute.
- Play around with rerouting until you find the best route that yields the least amount of driving.
- Once the route is put together, you can note it, print it or send it to your phone.
Keeping Track of Scheduled Jobs
Once you start closing jobs, you want to make sure that you have a good way of tracking them on a calendar so that you don’t lose track of anything. You could use something simple like Google or Apple Calendar, but the problem with that is it’s more difficult to link to all the customer history and information. This is why I highly recommend that you use the scheduling options built into the CRM that you chose to use.
- If you are using Less Annoying CRM as your CRM choice, then you can use their built in calendar system to schedule jobs. When I used Less Annoying CRM, I scheduled jobs and on-site estimates in the calendar. I color coded the two so I could tell the difference between the scheduled jobs and the estimates from a quick glance. In this CRM you can link each event on the calendar to a specific contact. This means that every job that is scheduled is instantly linked to the contact’s page which has all the history of the contact.
- What I use now is HouseCall.io. This CRM is actually built for the service business so it is much better for scheduling jobs. HouseCall.io allows you to schedule jobs, view them in calendar format or in list format, links you directly to the contact where you can see all of their details, previous payments, outstanding payments, previous jobs done, etc. The day before every work day, I order the jobs in the proper order within HouseCall.io, then I dispatch all the jobs and the cleaner can view all of them in his HouseCall.io mobile app. This makes it super simple to do all of the jobs without any issues that could come up from missing information.