In an MSP Utopian society, the world is digitized and forever streamlined by technology. While this dream might someday become a reality, the present day B2B environment is far from it. Old school business owners still adapt at a glacier like pace and if you want their business you need to play along. We found this to be the case when we signed a new client, only to find out later that they refused to release payment unless they received a paper invoice via US mail. We can squawk all we want about how ridiculous this is, but at the end of the day cash is king and to the post office we went.
Automating the Process
After wasting 15 minutes of my workday sending out one single invoice, I came to the conclusion that this HAD to be automated. I took my frustration to ‘Google’ and within the hour I was able to fully automate this process directly from our PSA, at very little cost. Here is how it works:
- Sign up for Postal Methods. This is the primary service you will use to automate the sending of paper invoices. They offer an email to mail service, where you can send them an email with a .PDF attachment from your approved email address and they print, stuff, and mail the attached document for you. They have a great step by step guide on their website showing how this works. As for pricing, they offer discounts depending on how much you are willing to load into the account. See this screenshot below.
- Create Invoice Template. Postal Methods will only be able to recognize the TO and FROM addresses on your invoice if the documented is formatted correctly. This is called a “Double Window” format, as this also describes the type of envelope it can be inserted into. We use Autotask as our PSA, so I will use that as our example, but other PSAs such as Connectwise and Kaseya will have very similar options. In Autotask you can go to Admin>Features & Settings>Finance, Accounting & Invoicing>Invoice Templates to see a list of available templates. As you can see by the screenshot below there is already a System template in the “Double Window” format. Feel free to edit it to your liking an save it as a new template (we actually created two templates; Paper Net 15 & Paper Net 30).
- Apply Invoice Template to Customer – Now that our invoice template is created, we will need to apply it as the Default Template to each customer that we want to receive paper invoices. To do this in Autotask, simply search for and open up the customer of your choice. Under the menu, select: Invoice Preferences>General to change the invoice template for said customer.
- Add Postal Methods as Recipient – Before closing our Invoice Preferences in Autotask, you will perform the last step of the setup. Navigate down to the “Enable Invoice Emailing from Autotask” option. After this box is checked you will see several options for whom to notify. Under “Other Email(s):” you will want to copy in Postal Methods address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget! Your invoice will only be mailed if your sending address matches the approved addresses in your Postal Methods account.
- Test the process – I would suggest putting through a test invoice under a fake account and making sure this process works before you commit. Postal Methods has a very good alert system to notify you of the status of each invoice, so you will be able to work through any issues as they happen.
This process ended up being a staple for us and as we grew comfortable, we were able to use Postal Methods for other mail related workflows as well. If you have any questions on getting this set up, or would like to contribute more automated mailing hacks, feel free to do so in the comments below.