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Late Invoices, Lost Money --Dickeson

April 2005
What is it that the customer of commercial printing is looking for when a job is ordered? Is it quality, count or timeliness of delivery? Or all three? Which is most important? Does it make a difference? Depends on the job and client, doesn't it? All three must be met if a job is to satisfy a customer's needs, but often a little extra effort on quality or timeliness is needed.

Offhand, you'd think that a precise count would be the easiest to satisfy. It seldom is, unless, of course, the units of the job must be sequentially numbered like checks or forms. We still have to make an "overs or unders" allowance in our contracts. We can't deliver a precise count for an order. And, thereby hangs a tale...and most commercial printing companies!

We can't issue the invoice unless we have some kind of a count from the bindery or finishing. We can't collect cash for the job unless a proper invoice has been sent. Sometimes this is several days after the job has shipped.

Why Don't We Do That?

Perhaps it's time we put a stop to this practice. Why shouldn't we invoice the customer for the exact count ordered? Why shouldn't the invoice issue the moment the job ships? We simply specify in the contract that we will deliver the quantity ordered for the job, plus or minus a given percentage for count errors. We'd win some, lose some.

Most of all we wouldn't be waiting around to date and send an invoice. We'd get the cash in the drawer several days faster, wouldn't we? And, why not? You tell me.

"We're waiting for the final count or the job jacket (or ticket)," is the usual excuse given by the accountants for delaying an invoice. But, we've just solved that count problem. Now we're looking for any other reason why accountants don't have the invoicing information they need. Is the job jacket lost? Laying on someone's desk awaiting action? It happens. Quite regularly in some companies, I'm sorry to say. That is something for administrative discipline.

But, if you're using electronic job ticketing, how can this ever happen—unless you lose your computer and its server? The only possibility then is that someone may fail to input customer changes in the original order.

We've now solved two problems: Count and Lost Job Tickets. What else? Customer changes, again. These are changes in the original order that may, or may not, modify the invoice. Either you're using an electronic job jacket system or you aren't. If you aren't, it's easy for someone in customer service, or somewhere else, to have forgotten to note the change or to just be "sitting" on the change information.
 

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