When it comes to managing money, your accountancy practice has got it mastered.
Small business accounting is your forte: your team prides itself on delivering impressive customer service and producing efficient, accurate results for your clients.
But while you’re calmly juggling the financial demands of numerous other small businesses, it can be easy to forget your own.
Your business deserves the same attention to detail and care that you give to your clients. And an easy way to help your bottom line shine just as brightly is to examine and even overhaul how you collect regular payments.
Here we explore how giving your own accounting set-up a shake-up can transform your business and give your service even more of a wow factor.
Carry Out an Accounting Audit
Is your forecasting plagued with uncertainty? Have you fallen into the red through no fault of your own? Do you frequently have to chase late payments?
If so, analysing how you receive regular payments will help you to understand the extent of the problem.
Start with assessing how your clients pay you: cash, card, cheque?
Are you relying too heavily on one type of payment that regularly causes headaches? Maybe you’re constantly chasing credit card payments or waiting nervously for cheques to land on the office welcome mat? Perhaps some clients pay by Standing Order and you’ve been caught out once too often when they’re unexpectedly cancelled, leaving you in the lurch?
And how often are they invoiced? Monthly, quarterly, annually? A muddled mixture of all three?
Then take a look at your debtors’ list. While some pay promptly, some need frequent reminders. Some can be counted on to meet your payment terms, others cite their own cashflow challenges for not paying you on time.
Whatever the obstacle, you know that your clients can sometimes be inadvertently guilty of jeopardising your cashflow and even your reputation. And just like HMRC won’t tolerate late payments, your business shouldn’t either.
So, armed with this analysis of your own small business accounting and the insight it gives into the unreliability of your current system, you’ll be easily convinced of the need to change.
There is a simple way to transform this problematic picture with no fuss, no frustration and no financial upheaval.
Direct Debit: Your Recipe for Success
Your current payment ingredients are creating a cocktail of unpaid invoices, compromised cashflow, wasted time and admin hassle.
Adding Direct Debit to the mix will simplify and streamline your recipe: it’s a flexible, reliable and trusted method of collecting money from your clients.
Direct Debit is an automated system which allows you to take payments directly from your customers’ account on the date of your choosing. Its flexibility allows you to alter this timing, along with the amount and frequency, to suit your business’ needs. Provided you give advance notice to your clients, you gain control over how and when you’re paid.
And by signing up to a Direct Debit bureau such as FastPay, you can outsource the management of your scheme to make the process even easier.
You can bid farewell to unpredictability and accounting chores such as manual reconciliation by choosing a specialist bureau who will oversee all payments. Introducing a fully-automated system frees up time and money so you can focus more on your clients’ financials instead of fire-fighting with your own.
It’s pretty much guaranteed that some of your competitors already offer this service to their clients.
Introduce Direct Debit and you’ll be one step ahead of those who don’t.
The Business Benefits
Switching to accepting Direct Debit is the fast-track solution to boosting business efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Compared to the alternatives, it has a host of benefits for both you and your clients:
If your business is getting left behind on the technology trajectory, Direct Debit is the perfect option to plug into the world of payment automation.
It’s the secret to a smooth, efficient system: having access to fully-digitalised databases will streamline your entire accounts process.
Once a Direct Debit mandate has been set up with a customer, payments will arrive on the agreed date. No more waiting for cheques or Standing Orders to clear. No more valuable staff time spent on the phone noting down credit card details.
Instead, you’ll be confident that payments are being processed and cash is flowing into your account and through your business.
With a Direct Debit bureau processing these payments on your behalf, the day-to-day admin hassle of collating different payment methods is removed. Your accounts team will be spending less time chasing debtors and more time undertaking training, keeping up with crucial legislation and delivering a quality service.
This gift of extra hours in the working day will be noticed by your clients: conversations will focus on service not invoicing, relationships will flourish and satisfaction will grow.
And you’ll be less likely to lose a client due to a billing misunderstanding. Instead, you’ll be handling new client enquiries as word spreads that you’re an efficient business to deal with.
Automation does not mean inflexibility. Quite the opposite. Direct Debit is renowned for its adaptability.
You are in control here. Once you’ve given advanced notice, payment scheduling means you collect the right amount on the most suitable date at the most convenient intervals.
This allows Direct Debit to be used for fluctuating monthly amounts and one-off larger bills.
For example, if you currently gamble on your cashflow and only invoice once a year, Direct Debit allows your clients to spread the cost equally via a monthly payment. You can use this approach for both service charges such as PAYE processing and for larger amounts such as filing tax returns by splitting the overall cost throughout the year.
Once set up to pay in monthly instalments, they will pay you on time, every time.
And any increase in your fees can be added to this amount so it doesn’t come as a shock at year-end when finances might not be as robust.
This enhances your customers’ experience, assuring them that you understand their challenges and can offer them a range of payment options to fully meet their needs.
The result is peace of mind on both sides, leaving you and your staff free to focus on the job in hand rather than whether you’ll ever get paid for it.
Complementing the automated reconciliation function is the pro-active reporting feature built into the Direct Debit management software.
Regular, comprehensive reports are delivered direct to your inbox to reassure you that invoices are being paid on time. You’ll have a real-time overview of the status of your accounts, a complete audit trail that helps to establish cashflow clarity and accurate forecasts.
If a collection hasn’t been successful or if an instruction has been unexpectedly cancelled, you’ll receive a prompt notification. No more manual identification of missed payments and the possibility of one being overlooked.
Instead, your accounts team are free to deal with any potential payment problems quickly and efficiently, armed with a full client account history at the click of a mouse. They’ll no longer have to make awkward phone calls about bounced cheques or expired credit cards.
Simple Software Integration
When it comes to everyday tasks, your software is already working hard: it’s saving you time on importing data, money by issuing payslips online and costly fines by keeping you compliant with new legislation.
The beauty of Direct Debit is that it can be easily integrated into your existing small business accounting software: automatic reconciliation and effortless streamlining at your fingertips.
You can simply connect your online payment gateway to your online accounting system and your bureau’s. Direct Debit solutions unlock the full potential of your business by allowing you to integrate as much or as little as you like via APIs and platforms such as Xero.
Rich in functionality, embracing this technology opens a whole world of digital possibilities.
All transactions flow seamlessly within the system, increasing payment efficiency, saving admin time and giving you a real-time cash overview.
Your accounts team can forget about double-keying information into two different programmes, the high risk of data entry errors and repeated exporting of spreadsheets. It’s all taken care of digitally.
You can also be assured that the software used by Bacs-approved bureaux has been rigorously-tested for integrity and confidentiality.
It has bank-grade security, even on the move. You can also set strict access permissions internally and limit the functions any specific user can access.
Combining the logic of Direct Debit with the power of these integrations will become an invaluable part of your business’ growth.
You’re in the business of managing money and may think that outsourcing to a bureau is an expense your practice can’t afford.
But keep in mind the time and money you currently spend on managing less efficient payment methods.
Direct Debit bureaux charge as little as 3p per collection and FastPay guarantees a truly transparent pricing structure with detailed cost breakdowns listed on their website. There are no hidden costs, no monthly or annual fees and you can take advantage of a flexible pay as you go system.
With free email and phone support, collection volume discounts and straightforward invoicing, they can also guide you through any bespoke cost for your business.
The drastic streamlining you’ll see across your business – fewer admin hours, contented customers, reliable cashflow - will make it well worth the investment.
Impressive Customer Loyalty
Delivering exceptional customer service will directly impact customer loyalty. If you’re offering them the easiest possible way to pay, they’re more likely to stay with you and share their positivity about your company, attracting new clients and driving growth.
You’re helping them to tick off a job from their to-do list: they know that you’ll be paid automatically with no time-consuming input from them. Instead, they can concentrate on other aspects of their business.
Thanks to the technology behind Direct Debit, you’ll be giving them a personalised, hard-working payment option that will help you to outshine the competition.
Its simplicity and adaptability reduce the possibility of client conflict, smoothing relationships and transforming your clients into brand advocates.
Game-Changing Customer Benefits
Direct Debit doesn’t just provide efficiencies for you and your small business accounting system, it adds real value to your clients too.
In the fast-paced digital age, consumers want to pay for products and services quickly and efficiently: one tap of their contactless card, one-click log-in to an online payment portal, a simple set of Direct Debits to pay regular bills.
If you’re more tech troglodyte than tech trailblazer, it’s time to play digital catch-up. You simply can’t afford to ignore your clients’, and indeed your employees’, expectations.
Automating how your clients can pay you will score you major customer satisfaction points because it brings them a raft of benefits. These benefits make it easy for you to persuade them that Direct Debit is the smart choice:
Just as Direct Debit’s flexibility is a boon for your bottom line, it’s also an important customer-pleaser. It’s a straightforward way of establishing confidence in your business.
The payment scheduling tool can be used to fit in with their accounts cycle, allowing them to spread the cost of your small business accounting service. You can offer flexible terms for their larger year-end bill or invoice them monthly for it, putting them in full control of their finances.
And because Direct Debit’s efficiency saves your business money, you can pass this perk on to your customer as an incentive to sign up via a discount or other offer.
For example, if they combine their monthly Direct Debit with their year-end bill, they could get a 5% discount.
If your customer flags that they’ll struggle to pay a large invoice in full right away, you could even provide a payment holiday, if your cashflow allows.
The trick is to operate as flexibly as the Direct Debit does. Embrace this approach and you’ll have a long line of satisfied customers who have choice and control over how they pay you.
Joining your Direct Debit scheme couldn’t be easier. All your client needs to do is complete a one-off Direct Debit Instruction either online, over the phone or via a paper mandate.
Once they’ve given authorisation for you to collect payments, their work is done.
Existing customers will be easily persuaded that Direct Debit is quick and easy, as well as safe, reliable and convenient. And for new ones, you could make Direct Debit the only payment option for them.
Ignore Direct Debit and you could see them both heading in the direction of your competitors. The ease of paying you without the hassle of writing and posting a cheque or arranging a Standing Order will only work in your favour when attracting new business.
Invaluable Peace of Mind
Offering peace of mind is priceless. Once they’ve filled in their mandate, your clients can sit back and relax: their payment is being taken care of by you and your bureau.
No need to remember payment dates or the amount, they’ll know that their bills are being paid automatically. They’ll never receive late payment penalties from you and won’t flip into their overdraft because you’ve cashed their cheque on an inconvenient day.
Using Direct Debit means they’ll avoid any interruption to receiving your service and can say goodbye to payment conflict.
Its benefits will also reach your clients’ accounts department. With one less regular invoice to process, it leads to reduced workload and paperwork for them. You’ll be known as one of those suppliers that makes life easier.
Safe, Secure and Guaranteed
Clients can be reassured that all their payments are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee. It offers unbeatable levels of security and makes the chances of fraud highly unlikely.
The Direct Debit Guarantee provides the following safeguards:
- you’re completely covered by your bank should there be an error in the payment of your Direct Debit
- you’re given advance notice if the date or the amount changes
- you have the right to cancel at any time
Partner With FastPay
When it comes to choosing a professional Direct Debit bureau to partner with, FastPay can tick all the boxes.
With experience working with clients across the financial sector, you can trust them to be reliable, efficient, affordable and friendly.
Incorporated in 2008, FastPay have solid credentials and a robust reputation within the banking industry. As a Bacs-approved bureau and Accredited Facilities Management Provider, they have the expertise to guide you through the process every step of the way.
Every client gets the same individually-tailored, secure service. And fast, easy set-up, including a straightforward one-page application form, means you’ll be up and running in just 24 hours.
Introducing Direct Debit as a payment option elevates your accountancy practice above the competition. It will reinforce your reputation as financial services experts who value your clients’ time and are committed to delivering the very best service.
Direct Debit: it’s where the smart money is.