A Better Way to do Billing - A Closer Look
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SECTION: A Closer Look

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A Better Way to do Billing

By Mary Sedor

Article Date: 10-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Wasted time and paper poured into the process can vanish quickly - but not your investment for outsourcing. That, says Billtrust, you'll recoup quickly.

How much time and money does your company spend on billing? Did you know that your company could save up to 75 percent on the cost of billing by outsourcing to a service that sends bills electronically?
In an economy where every penny counts, dealers may want to consider contacting Billtrust.

Streamlining the Billing Process
Billtrust, based in Jamesburg, N.J., was founded in 2001 by Flint Lane. From the company’s start, the focus has been on outsourced billing within the business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets. Billtrust became an AED member last year. The company has worked mostly with wholesale distribution and is looking to add on equipment distribution customers.
“The goal was just recognizing that there were many companies within the mid- to large-size range that were struggling with the billing process,” said Mitchell Rose, vice president of marketing. Rose says the struggle with billing for many companies comes from the fact that many, particularly in the equipment distribution market, are setting up bills every day. He explains that for the distributor, billing becomes a cumbersome process to not only get them out in a timely manner, but also the labor and material costs are high. “We take all of those costs out of the process and also help the distributor with customer service,” said Rose. “Half of the calls dealers take are billing related calls. Our customer care tool is designed to help them easily address those billing questions, pull up bills, re-send them if necessary and run reports to help them handle those questions.” Since 2001, Billtrust has grown to serve more than 300 customers, 185 of whom are in the distribution market. “From the very beginning the goal was recognizing that we could develop a solution that was more efficient, at a lower cost, which allows businesses to focus on what they do best,” said Rose. “In the equipment distribution business, we let dealers focus on their customers and customer service, making sure they have the right products and sales, not on how to get the bills out the door.” Billtrust Understands Distribution
Rose says dealers typically turn to Billtrust for a complete billing solution, an aspect of the company that sets it apart from its competitors. “There are a lot of companies that might focus on getting bills out the door by paper, others that focus on getting the bills out the door electronically, but we’ve developed a full approach and have the ability to deliver billing documents by U.S. mail, e-mail, fax and even online,” said Rose. “What makes us unique is that combination of both paper and electronic delivery.”The company has worked hard to understand the distribution industry, even turning to a customer advisory council made up of distributors and manufacturers to help them really understand how to meet the unique needs of the distributor market. Plus, Billtrust also spent time talking to contractors to understand what they want out of the billing process to make it easier for dealers. “Our solution has evolved to where we have developed a particular expertise to meet the needs of distributors,” said Rose. “We have an enhanced understanding of the needs of the distributor market in terms of how to satisfy their customers through the design of the invoice and billing requirements.”
Electronic billing not only saves time but it is good for the environment. Billtrust was recently recognized with a Great Green Business Award by the Plant a Tree USA Foundation due to the company’s success in converting customers to electronic billing. Another added benefit: It saves money.
“We’ve become experts on working with distributors to move their customers off of paper and into electronic bill delivery,” said Rose. “It’s good for everyone. Dealers are able to save 75 percent every time when they can send the bill electronically rather than by paper. It also helps them get paid faster.”During the company’s research with contractors, Rose says they discovered that they often want the bills faster – the sooner they get the bill from the distributor, the sooner they can do their own billing.
In addition to saving money, Billtrust also developed specific solutions that help dealers.
One of them, called bullpenning, allows distributors to hold off sending bills until they have reached a certain dollar amount, such as $500 for example. “We know that distributors could be sending out bills on a daily basis and sometimes these bills are a low dollar amount,” said Rose. “So we created a process where the dealers can bullpen bills and only send them out when their dollar threshold has been met.” Another tool Billtrust has for dealers is easy import. When customers sign up to get their invoices by e-mail instead of paper, within that e-mail they can get a data file they can download into their accounting package, saving them time. “Dealers like it because it helps keep the integrity of the data when it comes straight from their invoicing system directly into their customers’ accounting systems,” said Rose. “That’s something special we developed for the distributor market.” Billtrust also provides many reports that are especially relevant for the distributor market, which are found in the customer service tool. “For example, we can provide reports by branch and provide summaries of invoicing trends at the branch level. It can all be monitored online through our customer care tool, a Web-based tool that can be accessed at any time,” said Rose. High Customer Satisfaction
Billtrust is compatible with any accounting system – currently that number comprises more than 75 different systems.
“When a billing file is generated from the distributor, it’s sent to us and then we do all the processing,” said Rose. “It’s completely automated – the billing file is set up to be generated nightly and then we do the rest.” And yes, while there are costs associated with the service – a set-up fee and ongoing processing fees – Rose says that most customers see a return on their investment in just a few months. However, Billtrust doesn’t hold customers to any term or period of time. “We don’t believe in tying customers down,” said Rose. “We are confident in the value we deliver.”
It speaks for itself, apparently. Billtrust maintains a 99 percent customer retention rate. The company conducts annual surveys to ensure they are meeting their customers’ needs.
“We are very proud of our high customer satisfaction rate,” he said. When a new customer signs on, Billtrust’s implementation team works with the customer for four to six weeks to get them live on the services. Billtrust’s well trained customer service team supports any customer issues or questions that arise. “What sets us apart from other companies is the fact that we are the complete billing solution,” said Rose.
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