Make it easy for your customers to pay you. Use “business reply envelopes”.

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by Tom Watson on December 8, 2013

As many of you may know, I’ve learned quite a bit about how to market and operate my cleaning business by simply paying attention to what the “big corporate type” companies do on a regular basis.

For instance I always pay close attention to credit card companies. Why do you ask? Well because those guys are BILLION DOLLAR firms that have tons of money invested in research and development.

They don’t do anything “by accident” ever. They experiment constantly to see what works and what doesn’t from a marketing perspective. If you think about it for a moment it makes sense. If they can just slightly improve their response rate, say by 5% or so it would mean MILLIONS to their bottom line.

What works for them will work for us!

While our cleaning companies are tiny by comparison, the EXACT same principles that work on a large scale for them work on a small scale for us. This is why it’s important to take what works for them and APPLY IT to your own company.

One small way you can do that is by including a business reply envelope in with the invoice you mail out to the customer for your services. To make it even easier you’ll want to have your mailing address already filled out for them.

This way all they have to do to send your payment is write the check, drop it in the envelope you provide and mail it out to you. The goal is to make it easy for them to pay you. By doing some of the work for them (giving them the envelope with your address on it), you’ve accomplished that goal!

Like I mentioned earlier, the “big boys” do this when they send you your monthly credit card bill, and as we all know, they don’t do ANYTHING unless they have tested it extensively. This is why I always believed I should do it too!

My experience using business reply envelopes

This is a practice I’ve used almost since day one in my business. While I can’t provide any hard evidence that I get paid faster (I don’t have a research and development department), I trust that if the big companies do it, then it works better than the other way around.

What’s nice is that when you start using them, you’ll notice them instantly when you check your mail because they are much smaller than a regular envelope (they need to fit INSIDE the one you are mailing the invoice with). So when you spot one in your mailbox, you’ll know there is money inside!

Keep in mind that not all customers will use them when sending in payment. Most of the small mom and pop type places will, but larger companies sometimes “sub out” the payment process, meaning you’ll get a check from a third party.

When this happens they won’t use your envelope at all, so just remember to not send them one the next time you mail out your invoices (no use wasting them on folks that won’t use them). In case you are wondering, I don’t include a stamp for them. They can pay for that themselves. With that said, there is no right or wrong, so do as you please.

Supplies needed to include a business reply envelope

While buying pre-printed business reply envelopes is an option, I always just made my own by picking up a collection of supplies from my local office warehouse (like Staples). This option is pretty cheap and allows you to make up a ton that will last a long time.

My supply list is simple. I always buy the 3 5/8 tall by 6 1/2 long 24 lb envelopes. On other outside of the box it says they are “no. 6 3/4 envelopes”. Next up are the sheet of labels you need to print your address on. I purchase Avery brand return address labels. They are number 8167 to be exact.

Those labels come 80 to a sheet and will last a long time. Just use your favorite program to print your address on the label, then save the template for future use. From there you just want to affix the label on the envelope so that when they mail the piece back it goes to you. Check out the pictures below to get a feel for it visually…

The envelope box

Staples box

The Avery labels

sheet of 80

The invoice AND the return address envelope

2 envelopes

Well there you have it, a super simple approach to getting your customers to pay you faster. This technique also makes your cleaning company come across in a more polished way, which makes you look good in the process. Feel free to share whether or not your company uses this approach in the comments below!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 James Stevenson December 8, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Good post. The cost in £’s or $’s is miniscule compared to the benefit of getting paid quicker, or getting anything returned by the prospect/customer quicker.

2 Tom Watson December 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Hi James! I agree, besides… just factor that into the overall cost of doing business and you are all set.

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