A GUIDE TO EFFICIENT BILLING
Part 8 of the free eBook: The Complete Guide to Growing Your Flexible Workspace Business
Thus far, our Lead to Cash series has highlighted the importance of lead generation, the sales processes, services offering, member management and core IT services in the shared workspace. There are a few recurring themes that facilitate efficiency across the board, and these are automation, self-service and integration.
To sum it up, running a sustainable and profitable shared workspace largely depends on reigning in your processes and simplifying your life as an operator with a platform that supports each and every key pillar of your business.
In this 8th chapter of the series, we’ll look at the single most important part of running any successful business, assuming you want to be profitable: invoicing and billing.
Workspace Billing Utopia
Managing the minutiae of day to day in a workspace as well as the bigger picture of running a business is a complicated life and it’s focused on metrics and processes that define what business profitability looks like. Being a shared workspace operator requires a special sort of person. They are a jack of all trades, many a master of all, some a master of none. Regardless of strengths and weaknesses, without a well-oiled billing and invoicing machine, life can get unnecessarily complicated.
Billing and invoicing the services consumed in your workspace should be a slick and easy practice for optimal accuracy. With self-service thrown into that mix, members can view, download and manage their payments. This is the ultimate utopia for workspace operators and it starts from Day 1 when prospects become paying members.
Online Member Setup
The first step to accurate billing is going online. Get your members to purchase and consume your services via your website or your management platform. Aside from giving them easy access (and easy to earn revenue for you!), this ensures that you are capturing accurate data and removing human error.
Give members and prospects access to your services marketplace where they can select the workspace plan or member package, execute the purchase with an e-signature and finalize the agreement only by entering their billing information. Bundle services into your membership plans, packages or tiers for consistency that translates seamlessly to your billing system.
Rather than relying on your community manager, who is busy juggling multiple tasks, to set up the accounts from a sign-up sheet or credit card authorization form, use an automated system for better accuracy. This will shorten and smooth out your bill run so that when you invoice for monthly memberships or meeting room bookings you avoid credit notes, annoying the customer with adjustments and compromising the member experience. Any mistake can cost you hours incorrections. Software that integrates each step of the cycle and automates data capture and invoice creation saves you hours fixing the account.
Point of Sale
A point of sales station at reception, whether a desktop, tablet or mobile device, makes it simple for community managers to capture charges and changes to an account, keeping invoices accurate while offering flexibility to your members. You can input discounts and ad-hoc charges all while monetizing your space and services. It is vital to get the invoicing correct on the first try so you spend less time doing bill runs, fixing billing queries and losing revenue.
Point of sale is the best alternative to a notepad, an excel spreadsheet, a voice memo on your mobile device or any other 19th century method that requires you to transfer or enter information more than once. It eliminates the need to input data manually, removing human error, it demands minimal staff training and is easy to pass on to a new or temporary staff member. More importantly POS can integrate with your workspace management platform making your invoicing routine a breeze.
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Managing your Members
Driving revenue is a key determining factor in keeping a workspace running and profitable. However, operators don’t have much spare time to pursue revenue-driving initiatives with other pressing tasks that needed to be done yesterday. What they don’t realize is that it doesn’t need to be complicated. Integrating your services marketplace, IT platform and billing system will significantly impact the way you levy charges and make driving revenue an after-thought.
Take IT and Comms services, for example. If deeply integrated with your billing system, your members can easily increase or decrease bandwidth without worrying about being overcharged and you won’t lose sleep over losing revenue. Any member utilizing telephony services will see their charges and rates flow in real-time, while the operator foregoes dealing with the tedious task of exporting usage data from another system and importing it into a separate billing system.
The same school of thought applies to the use of Google calendar. While seemingly a great resource, if it doesn’t integrate with your billing systems you won’t effectively capture booking charges and you risk high levels of revenue leakage.
Linking your accounting system with your business management platform has great benefits. The real-time bank feed means your staff has visibility into which customers owe what from any location at any time without giving them access to your accounting system. This protects the privacy, security and integrity of both your accounting platform and your customer’s private information, while still allowing operators the ability to delegate the billing and invoicing tasks.
Truly smart software has the capability to make your life and your accountant’s life easier. For example, calculating deferred income automatically without the use of spreadsheets and formulas saves time and money paid to accountants for the same task. It can also coordinate advance payments for rents and services and run the billing automatically.
Integration is Key
Integrating process management systems is the most efficient way to streamline the billing and invoicing for your services. It will save you money, resources and time spent on these tedious but crucial administrative tasks so that you can spend more time with your member community.
Continue to Part IX: Shared Workspace Cash Collection