There's a lot that goes into making your catering business a success. Whether it is a large beautiful wedding, or an early morning business meeting, you put a lot of effort into menu preparations, table set-up, decorations, staffing, and the list goes on and on. You probably don't have much time left for tedious administrative tasks, and spending hours preparing each of your invoices is probably taking a toll on you.
So, how can you quickly prepare professional invoices that include all of the important information and get you paid with minimal effort? Well, you can create a catering invoice template to use as a pre-filled form and just fill in the job-specific details in minutes. This way, you make sure you are not missing any specifics that may cause delays in payments and misunderstandings.
Let's go over some of the essential elements you must include for a bulletproof catering invoice template and a few best practices to help improve your billing process.
What to Include in Your Catering Invoice Template?
Your customers deserve a crystal-clear breakdown of the services you are providing and what they are paying for. It's also important to give them all the information they need to make the payment in a timely manner and keep a healthy business relationship with you. Make sure your catering invoice template includes the following essential elements.
The first thing on your catering invoice template should be your business name and contact details such as phone number, email as well as the address. It's also a good idea to include a couple of lines for any special services you offer like a particular type of cuisine or special events. Additionally, try adding branding elements or your company logo to make the invoice more personalized and add professionalism to it.
The next section is for your client's information such as name (or company name), their billing address, and phone number. You can also include a short description of the catering job such as the type of catered event (for example a wedding), the event date, and location where the services were provided.
This addition will make it easier for your clients to identify what services they are paying you for, especially if you are dealing with corporate clients that may have other invoices to pay.
Invoice Number and Date
Your catering service invoice template must include a section for a unique invoice number. This is to make it easier for your client to keep accounting records (some companies will not accept an invoice without an invoice number), and it is also good for you to keep your paperwork organized. Also, include the date when the invoice was sent (not created), so you can determine due dates and apply any late fees if that's part of your payment terms.
Catering Services Provided
Next is an itemized list of the services and all the food you provided, the unit price and total cost. Make sure you include separate descriptions of any special orders, custom menus, waiting staff, cleaning-up costs, food shipping or transportation costs. Making this section as detailed as possible will help you get paid faster and avoid wasting time clearing up doubts with your clients.
In the totals section of your catering invoice template you want to separate the costs from the taxes and any special adjustments. Start with a subtotal adding all the costs for catering services, then add a line for any late fee penalty (from previous invoices) or discounts you may be providing for corporate events or regular customers, and then factor in the applicable taxes. Again, make it clear and easy-to-understand to save your client the guesswork.
The last section on your catering invoice template is for your payment information and terms. Include all of your accepted payment methods such as ACH transfer, check or online payment (PayPal, Venmo, etc...). Make sure to add the account number, recipient's name and address. This is also the place to specify the payment due date which can be a certain number of days after the invoice was sent or the specific date as well as any penalties that may apply in case of a late payment.
Use Bonsai’s Free Catering Invoice Template
If you want to save some time and skip the headache of creating your own catering invoice template, you're in luck. You can download Bonsai's fully customizable free catering invoice template to easily send professional invoices without wasting a lot of time behind the desk.
You can adapt our invoice templates to any kind of catering service and still have consistency in your invoices by keeping the basic but essential information in place. Just fill in the specifics of the catering job, add your personal touch and quickly get back to doing what you love.
Tips for Efficient Catering Invoicing
Invoicing, when done right, can be an efficient tool to get your customers to pay on time, and even keep coming to you for business. Aside from having a professional and well-structured invoice template, consider the following tips to improve your invoicing process even further.
Offer Payment Incentives
Want to motivate your clients to pay on time or even earlier? Give them an incentive! You can come up with a payment scheme where you give them a small discount for paying before the due date. For example, if the due date is set to 30 days after the invoice was sent, you may offer a 2% discount if the client pays within the first 10 days.
I know it may sound like a crazy idea to willingly give up a percentage of your income, but trust me, many of your clients will take the opportunity, which will help you keep a steady cash flow and avoid the extra expenses that may come from going after overdue accounts. If you decide to do this, make sure to include it on your catering invoice template.
Don't hesitate to give your client a reminder when their payment is overdue. As soon as you identify an unpaid invoice, make sure to send out an email, ideally with a read notification, so you can be certain your client knows a payment is expected ASAP. Sometimes all they need is a gentle reminder and they'll send the money right away. However, if a couple of days go by without a payment, or notification that the payment is on its way, it's time for a phone call.
Automate the Process
Using a catering invoice template is already going to save you a lot of time, but if you want real efficiency, Bonsai's automated invoicing software is all you need. Automatically create your invoices, identify overdue invoices, send payment reminders, get read-receipts, and even apply late fee penalties. This is the way to handle your billing process like a pro.