By Julie Lubetkin, VP of Strategic Partners
The other day, a friend’s daughter made sure to share her sweets with me – by leaving a handprint on my new shirt. Like her lollipop, it was bright, big, and especially sticky.
“No worries,” I thought. “I can wash it out.”
But her parting gift made me think. Sticky is, basically, a cohesion between two objects. You don’t want clothing to be sticky. However, for an accounting firm, sometimes it pays to be sticky. After all, you want to build a strong relationship with your clients – so strong that they are truly reluctant to leave your firm.
How can you make your accounting firm stickier? Look for financial services your clients truly need – services that are often time-consuming and labor-intensive and that take business owners’ focus off of the big picture of growing their company and enjoying financial success.
That’s right – if you haven’t already, it is time to onboard bill payment services.
Bill payment services are notorious for taking up large amounts of time on repetitive and administrative activities such as payment and contract review, follow-up, check runs, and adjustments and mailing. In fact, a recent study showed that 90 percent of back office costs for businesses comes from labor associated with bill payments. Imagine the relief your clients would feel if you could take this off of their hands.
At the same time, you might be asking: “Why would I want to take over bill payment services for my clients?”
True, the traditional process for bill payment offers a lot of challenges. But now with cloud-based technology, the process is much, much, much easier. And there are real opportunities to make money from this service as well as build stronger relationships with your (relieved) clients.
The Five Benefits of Cloud-Based Bill Payment Services
Cloud-based bill payment services (like the ones Bill.com offers) streamline and organize finances into a processed-based system that is secure and available anytime, anywhere. All activities normally associated with bill payment are migrated online and accompanied by automated reminders and workflows as well as enhanced document management and collaboration technologies.
First, cloud-based bill payment services eliminate many manual processes. You no longer need to enter data by hand. For most services, you can input bills or contracts by scanning, faxing or emailing them. The system will then automate the workflow from reviewer to approver, eliminating time-consuming manual follow-up via email or phone. With its ability to store documents online, it also eliminates the need for visits to the filing room to hunt down contracts or past bills. Even better, you can assign a date for payment and the bill will be automatically paid on that date.
Second, cloud-based bill payment services should sync with all major accounting software and banks, which saves you time and trouble when balancing books. For example, Bill.com syncs with QuickBooks, Xero, Intacct, NetSuite, and more. Copies of all bills, cancelled checks, contracts, and other documents are also filed online for fast access.
Third, cloud-based bill payment services can reduce risk. Best practices can involve paying each bill through the provider’s account, which means your business is protected against errors or fraud. (Another plus: Bill.com offers Positive Pay protection which ensures a check cannot be cashed if it has been altered.)
Fourth, the security provided by cloud-based bill payment services is absolutely comprehensive. This includes roles-based access and detailed audit trails that give you tight controls in addition to encryption, firewalls that prevent unauthorized access, physical security protocols for servers that house data, and FDIC-insured payments en route.
Finally, cloud-based bill payment service providers should give clients on-demand answers to their queries. Your clients can access your branded, collaborative portal in order to inquire about an invoice, approve a bill or examine a cash flow forecast. All this can happen from any device including PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Learn how you can make your accounting firm “stickier” by:
- Watch the replay of “Bill Pay + Oursourcing: A Foundation for Future Growth” webinar.