Small business owners and freelancers usually spend a significant amount of time managing payments. They’re responsible for a myriad of finance-related tasks, including processing invoices, chasing up late payments, reconciling accounts, and more. But running an efficient payment management system needn’t be a hassle. With the right approach, it’s possible to build payment processes into your business that run on autopilot, freeing up your time and boosting client satisfaction. What’s more, your invoice and payment response time will almost certainly reduce with the right infrastructure.
In this post, we will outline six practical tips that you can use to streamline the way your company manages payments. The advice is straightforward, inexpensive, and can be implemented in hours.
Pick a Payment Management Processor
Before you can accept payments online, you’ll need to pick a payment management processor. You’ll likely recognize most of the big names in this space – Paypal, Vend, Shopify POS, Square, and so on. These providers have different fee structures, and costs can vary depending on location, so it’s important to research all your options.
To give yourself the broadest possible set of choices, it’s worth leveraging a dedicated third-payment payment portal. These tools allow you to pick from several payment processors rather than just one, thus giving you greater flexibility. If you don’t already have a website or payments page, you can usually create one via an app. Alternatively, apps also integrate with existing websites in the vast majority of cases.
Most companies have lots of good ideas about how to receive payments from clients, but selecting a cost-effective, reliable processor is always the first step.
Embed Payment Buttons Into Documents
It’s essential to remember that making payments is a time-consuming task from the perspective of clients. After receiving an invoice, a customer will usually need to log into their online bank account and manually transfer funds. They may even have to get approval from a manager before they can authorize a payment.
One straightforward way of overcoming this problem is by embedding payment buttons in business documents like invoices, quotes, and proposals. Recipients simply need to hit the button, enter their account details, and hit approve. You’ll automatically receive an update every time a successful payment is made. You can leverage a document management solution to include payment features like this in your documents.
Integrate Your Accounting App
Irrespective of whether you run a business that employs multiple people or work as a solo freelancer, it’s essential that accounting tasks are completed consistently and on time. Updating and reconciling accounts, however, can be a tedious process. And that’s where integrations come to the rescue.
A fully-synched network of apps (or “tech stack”) will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you when it comes to weekly or monthly accounting jobs. Crucially, information that is added to one app will automatically update in others. Suppose, for example, that a client completes a payment via your online portal. It will instantly appear in your CRM (customer relationship management software). This change, in turn, will also update your accounting app, eliminating the need for any manual data entry,
Consider Using a POS (Point of Sale System)
If you accept a lot of cash or cheque payments directly from customers, you should consider purchasing a point of sale system.
It’s not just about the fact that these traditional payment methods are becoming outdated (although that is an important point). More importantly, by failing to offer customers the option to purchase your products or services by card, you are likely losing sales and revenue.
Point-of-sale systems are inexpensive and easy to set up. And most packages come with dedicated training for new users that are unsure about how to configure the hardware.
Send Invoice Reminders
Late payments on invoices are a common headache for small businesses and freelancers. In many cases, however, clients aren’t withholding money on purpose. They may have simply forgotten, missed the invoice in their inbox, or handed it over to another department or manager for approval and not received a response.
Reminders will often overcome the problem of late payments, and it’s good practice to set up specific processes and timeframes for sending follow-up emails to clients. You can even automate this process through a document management solution. If a payment isn’t logged, the app will send a notification to the recipient without any direct input on your part.
Offer Credit Vouchers and Gift Cards
Cancellations and refund requests, although frustrating, are part of life. It’s impossible to escape from them. But a refund doesn’t automatically equate to lost revenue. Offering credit notes and gift vouchers, which allow customers to purchase a product or service at a later date, is one way of recuperating costs.
Credit vouchers can be as simple as printed notes. Alternatively, you can rely on your digital infrastructure. Most payment portals allow you to credit a customer’s account and point-of-sale systems tend to have gift card features. Of course, some clients will insist on a refund, but it’s worth having the option for those that don’t.
As a business owner, it’s vital to drive efficiency wherever possible. Armed with the tips in this article, you can streamline your whole payment management system. You will save time, increase revenue, and boost client satisfaction. What’s more, most will only take a few hours to implement.
Featured Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash