Like many builders, you’ve probably got a good back-office set-up for keeping track of payment schedules, invoices, and billing. But even the best system can come crashing down if your clients don’t know when and how much to pay you.
Don’t despair: keeping clients accountable to a payment schedule is one of BuildBook’s many uses. In this post we’ll show you how to use Projects, Posts, Tasks, and Documents to make sure you never have to hear your client ask, “What invoice?!”
Step 1: Set up a ‘Payment’ Project
You probably already know how to set up a Project in BuildBook, but this one’s a little different. You'll want to keep a separate "main" Project for this job, to which you’ve invited the architect, the designer, your subs, and, of course, your clients. Use that for things like site updates, inspiration, selections.
But we know you don’t want everyone seeing sensitive budgets and invoices, so let’s create a second project just for this context.
From the "My Projects" view, tap the orange plus to start a new Project. Select the appropriate project type, enter your client’s address, and call it “[Client Last Name] Payment Schedule.” (You can skip the invites part for now.) This will be your discrete workspace just for billing, uncluttered by other project details and discussions.
Step 2: Upload Invoices
A core function of BuildBook is Document management -- and there are few documents as important as the invoice. You can upload any Word doc, Excel sheet, or PDF to any of your Projects. Here’s a quick reminder how:
- Open up your email, using the email address associated with you BuildBook account
- Attach all your invoices in one email
- Send it to [email protected]
- Open up the app and tap on your avatar on the top left of the My Projects screen
- Tap on Pending documents
- Tap the desired document and follow the instructions to add it to the payment Project we just created
- Repeat step 6 until all your invoices are stored in the right Project.
We recommend you send them in a single email and give each a clear, numbered title so they’re easy to find -- try something like “[Customer Last Name] Payment Milestone 1 of 5.” This is important because you’ll reference these documents in the Tasks.
Note: remember to rename the files before you upload them, as BuildBook doesn’t currently allow you to change the name once it’s uploaded.
Step 3: Invite Clients
From the Project inbox, tap on the three dots on the top right, then tap “Members + Invites.” Hit the big orange plus, select "Clients" and enter your clients’ email addresses one at a time.
Once they accept the invite, you’ll see an update in the Project telling you that they joined. So keep an eye out here and if you don’t see that, reach out to them. Remember: this doesn’t work if your clients don’t join the Project.
Step 4: Create the Payment Schedule
For the last part, you’ll be working in the Tasks section. Be sure you’re in the “payment” Project we just created, then tap on the Tasks tab. Tap the “plus” on the bottom of the screen, and choose “Task” to create a new one.
Here are the steps to create a Payment Milestone:
- Use consistent naming. Remember that when looking in the Task list, your clients will only see the Task name, assignee, and due date (not the description or any comments). Call it “Payment Milestone 1 of 5” to match the document you uploaded.
- Add a description. Reference the name of the invoice and any events that trigger the milestone, like “completed framing,” “month three” or “25% complete."
- Assign it to the right person. As a best practice, a Task can only be assigned to one person. So if you’ve got a duo of clients, agree with them in advance who will be the main point of contact, and make that person the assignee.
- Tag It: tap on Categories and create a new tag called “Payment Milestone.” Tags will help you find specific Tasks later on, when you might have a bunch of other types of Tasks in the project. (You can skip the Location tag.)
Note: your client has to accept the invite first before you can assign them a Task. If they haven't accepted yet, just assign it to yourself, and change it later.
Repeat this step for each anticipated milestone in the project. The Task list is sorted by default to show the Tasks due soonest, so you’ll see all the payment milestones in the correct order when you’re done.
Step 5: Set Expectations
Now that Project is full of the right Docs and Tasks, create a post explaining your intention to the Project members. This ensures no one is caught off-guard or thinks you're just lobbing invoices at them. Try something like this:
Hey Team - I created this new BuildBook project to keep track of our payment schedule. We’ll limit the members to just us, so we can have discreet conversations about budget and billing. For everything else -- like selections, schedule, site updates -- please refer to our other project, [insert project name here].
I’ve created a payments schedule in Tasks and uploaded all the invoices in the Documents section. Please take a look. If you have questions, simply comment on those items or create a new Post and I'll respond ASAP.
Remember that the most recent Posts will float to the top -- so we do this step last to make sure clients see it when they first log in.
Conclusion (and Bonus Tip)
Alright, you’re ready to get paid. In the extremely unlikely event that the schedule should shift (ha ha ha), you can always edit a Task to reflect the new dates. (Just hit those handy “three dots” on the Task detail and tap "edit".) And when you’ve got a material change in the project, use Documents to upload a change order, and then create a new payment milestone in Tasks.
Hopefully you found this easy and helpful. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or for more advice on how to make BuildBook work for you.