Fed up of chasing clients for payment? In this episode we look at ways you can automate customer billing and get paid in advance of doing the work. We examine two tools that Kevin is using in his business to do this. Acuity Schedule and MemberPress. So, listen in and find out how you can transform your customer billing in the next 100 days.
Why transform your customer billing?
In the traditional B2B business model you do the work, then bill the client expecting the client to pay in anything between 7 and 30 days.30 days go by. Some clients haven’t paid. You waste your valuable time chasing unpaid bills.
How about reverse engineering that model. You bill the client right at the start and get paid immediately, then do the work. If its an ongoing service how about repeating that process automatically every month? If the client wants credit, then fine, but let him use his credit card and not your business bank account as his credit facility.
Kevin has been looking at ways of billing for the services he is planning to offer as part of his new business, Divided by Five, and has discovered some very powerful tools that allow you to bill your clients upfront, automatically re-bill them every period, and create client self service to update billing details.
How do you transform your customer billing?
Its easier than you might think. Here’s our step by step approach for the next 100 days.
Step 1 – Don’t bill for time and materials
The key to the whole process is billing a standard amount of money. A standard amount of money requires a standard service, so if you currently bill by the hour or the day think instead about the things you do for your client not the time you spend working on them. Sell products not services. If you do the same things for your client every month think about a standard fee based on the average time you spend each month.
Step 2 – Think about levels of service
So, not all clients are equal, some require more effort than others. You might need more than one product to handle this. Kevin’s business model has identified groups of clients needing different levels of service. To deal with this he has 3 products, a bronze, silver, and gold service.
Maybe you do occasional one off tasks for clients? you can sell these as additional products with a single up front payment as and when needed.
Step 3 – Enable a payment service
Before you can accept online payments you need a payment processor. There are lots of services to choose from. We suggest you start with Paypal for Business, which is very easy to set up. If you are in B2B, then its more likely that the client will want to pay directly by debit or credit card. Stripe is a very popular and easy to use system that integrates with lots of online apps.
Step 4 – Use a membership plugin to handle the billing
Kevin has added MemberPress.to his WordPress website. Memberpress is a WordPress membership plugin that will handle taking payments for productised services. Membership plugins were designed originally to protect digital content. The plugin allows your customer to sign up, make a payment, and create a login. Your customer becomes a “member”.
Memberships can be single payment or recurring payment. You can have free or reduced cost trial periods.
You can set up groups of products. Kevin has grouped his bronze, silver and gold products together. A member can upgrade or downgrade between products in a group.
There are many membership plugins available, with a range of prices. Just because MemberPress was right for Kevin it might not be right for you. Do some research, and think about your requirements:
- Do I need to integrate to a particular email or CRM system
- Can I link to more than just Paypal or Stripe
- What content do I need to make member only on my website?
- Do I need to “drip feed” this content
- Do I need multiple groups of products?
- Will a customer to be able to join more than one group?
- Will I price in single currency or multiple currency?
Do you bill for regular appointments?
Are you the sort of consultant or professional that sells standard appointments. A physiotherapist; chiropractor; or a maybe a business coach? Then there’s a simpler solution to transform your customer billing.
This solution is particularly useful if you frequently suffer from clients who are “no shows”. Do you suffer from the unexpected empty diary slot and the subsequent loss of income from it? Suppose you could get the client to pay up front when he or she books the appointment?
For Kevin’s coaching business, he uses Acuity Schedule. Acuity Schedule is an online diary system that allows clients to book their own appointments. You can add your stripe and PayPal details to Acuity Schedule. Acuity will ask the client for payment as soon as the appointment is booked.
Acuity Schedule goes further, you can create group sessions that customers can book into, and you can sell multiple appointments in packages.
So, do you want to transform your customer billing and get paid faster? take action today