There is one item in business that is the key to success, the engine that drives your car, the most important paper in the filing cabinet, the invoice. For most of us in business that is the key to getting paid and to moving your business forward. If you are not creating invoices, then you are not getting paid. This is normal practice for traditional business that trade products and services in the general course of business, but what about the owner operator. He doesn’t need an invoice because he receives a statement, wrong! In speaking with owner operators all over the province about their profit and loss statements many of them would benefit from creating an invoice for their work. Most people don’t like to do any extra work but by creating an invoice for your work it gives you a clear picture into how much you are really earning. It is an extra step that so many would benefit from by taking the time to do it properly. Here is why I like an invoice.
Statements are issued by your company; they also have a variety of items on them such as fuel payments, plates, holdbacks, and so on. They are also usually a month behind of what you actually have run due to the process of collecting data by the person in charge of payroll. So many owner operators when they get their statements are not getting a true picture of what they are getting paid for and even worse some do not know if they are being paid for all of their miles. The fact that they do not have an invoice tracking their income gives them no recourse should they have to fight the company for funds at a later date. Have you ever heard someone wining that they aren’t making enough money and when you ask them to show how they got to that point they have nothing to show you, no evidence to back up their claim other than a broke bank account. Bank accounts mean nothing in the world of business, many successful companies have no money in their accounts, assets, and invoiced sales, among other factors are what drive business. The company isn’t giving you a pay check, you are billing them as a customer, and it is up to you to make sure you are being paid for your work, not the company.
So how do you start? First of all you have to make this a habit, do it all the time always. It won’t work if you only do it for one week. Second of all start at the beginning of a month. This way you have a nice clean break. Now if you are a driver only each time you get back to you terminal photocopy your trip envelope or print off your run sheet, however your company does their trip reporting. That becomes your invoice so to speak. If you are an owner operator I want you to create an invoice on a weekly basis showing where you went, your trip number, and your income made for that trip. You don’t have to send it off to anyone, but when you receive your statement if you are using software or by hand you can check off that you have been paid for the trip. At the end of the year you will know exactly how much income you earned, if you have been paid properly, and how long it took you to be paid. Should you be looking to purchase a truck or trying to get funding you will have proper invoices to show to help you make your case to the financial institution. This is considered due diligence, successful companies do it, so why don’t you?
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the transportation industry. Bruce is a columnist for many trade magazines and industry blogs. Fleet Tax Services offers compliance and administrative services for independent trucking companies and Owner Operators. For more information please visit their website at www.fleettaxservices.com