Monthly Billing Management Software

The solution to your monthly billing bottleneck

SwiftWire is the Monthly Pay Agreement management system that provides a means to interface SuccessWare21 (SW21) with EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) software for processing agreement payments. It was developed specifically to help manage the large numbers of repetitive payments of monthly pay agreements. It does not process non-agreement payment transactions.

SwiftWire enables users to systematize and control their monthly pay agreements. It analyzes and reconciles the additions, deletions, and changes in status that occur in day to day operations in the SW21 Agreement module. It provides 'audit trail' functions to keep a handle on the otherwise overwhelming amount of transaction information that is generated by monthly pay agreements.

SwiftWire captures the agreement billing data to be processed within SW21 and converts the data into a format that can be accepted by Easy-Pay or other credit card software for processing.

Benefits of SwiftWire

  • Takes the headache out of keeping track of monthly pay agreements by establishing procedures that provide a framework to control the process.
  • Allows standard SW21 monthly pay agreement data to be used for processing payments.
  • Monthly charges are an output of the SW21 Agreement periodic billings.
  • Eliminates ‘double (and even triple) entry’ of the monthly payments saving time and labor cost.
  • Accounting for agreement charges are synchronized with deposits and actual charges to the customer’s bank account or credit card.
  • Provides a system to ‘control’ and manage the process.
  • Keeps track of the transactions that you have sent for payment processing providing an audit trail.
  • Separates payments from various sources (VISA, AmEx, Discover, ACH, etc.) into different deposits making it easier to reconcile your bank statement.
  • Provides forms to manually control changes in payment method, additions, and terminations.
  • Generates a reconciliation report that tracks the changes in monthly pay agreements in SW21 Agreement data from one month to the next.
  • Makes processed data available for import into spreadsheet programs.
Monthly Billing Management Software
For questions, price and ordering information contact:
Extension 7917
Software Requirements
  • SuccessWare21 version 1.4.2 or higher.
  • To process payments you must have a financial arrangement with Payscape Advisors as your payment service provider and payment processing provider.
 

Comparing Agreement Billing Methods

Illustrates why Monthly Billing is Preferable

Following is a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the three different payment methods contractors use to bill customer service agreements. Each has its pros and cons but, overall, when monthly billing is made manageable it offers the best tradeoff of costs and benefits.

The Partial Pay Method

Customer pays a small amount of money up-front as a deposit toward the next maintenance visit when the balance is to be paid.
Advantages –
  1. The low initial price allows more customers to participate; maintenance base can grow large rapidly.
  2. Accounting: monetary liability to customer for unperformed services is small compared to prepaid agreements.
  3. Renewals can be easy because it requires little capital outlay by the customer.
Disadvantages –
  1. Customer may be difficult to contact to schedule return visit.
  2. Is that customer really a customer, or did they ‘sign up’ to get an agreement discount that was offered on a repair service call?
  3. Any ‘cash flow’ advantage obtained at beginning of agreement is undone when the balance needs to be collected.
  4. Accounting: keeping track of agreement deposits.

The Prepay Method

Customer pays full amount of agreement in advance and receives maintenance visit at the end of the agreement when it is renewed and is again paid for in advance.
Advantages –
  1. You have use of the customer’s money in advance.
  2. Easier to get a customer to schedule maintenance visit that is already paid.
  3. Customers willing to pay the full amount are really your customer and are not ‘signing up’ just to obtain a discount.
Disadvantages –
  1. Maintenance base grows more slowly: requiring the customer to pay the entire amount can be an obstacle that prevents customers from signing up; obtaining renewals can be difficult for the same reason.
  2. Accounting: monetary liability to customer is large, (especially if you spent the money when you got it!)

The Monthly Pay Method

Customer pays small monthly amount either charged to their credit card or debited to their bank account.
Advantages –
  1. Like partial pay agreements, the low monthly price allows more customers to participate; maintenance base can grow rapidly.
  2. Renewals are automatic because the agreements are perpetual.
  3. The burden of scheduling the agreement visit is less worrisome because if the customer does not respond to scheduling attempts, the agreement is still being paid for.
  4. You have an expected monthly cash flow.
  5. It’s easier to get a customer to schedule maintenance visit that is already paid.
  6. Customers willing to let you charge their bank account or charge card on a monthly basis are really your customer and are not ‘signing up’ just to obtain a discount.
Disadvantages –
  1. Some customers do not like providing access to their bank account or charge card information.
  2. Accounting: proper billing and tracking of the agreements on a monthly basis is complicated and extremely time consuming.

Conclusion

The benefits of any of these methods largely depend on if—or how—you are able to manage its downsides. The number of advantages offered by a monthly pay system makes it desirable compared to partial pay and prepaid systems; however its disadvantages must be successfully addressed for pursuing them to be worthwhile.

Customer reluctance to providing financial information for monthly billing by instituting an entirely new agreement program structured as a monthly pay program.

The accounting challenge of billing monthly agreements has been made manageable through the development of SwiftWire as an interface to the SuccessWare21 Agreement Manager.

SwiftWire is more than just a way to process monthly pay agreements from SuccessWare21. It is a method to make the process manageable and free up your personnel from having to spend their valuable time in a tedious, time consuming process.
 

Increasing Your Monthly Billing Program

Overcoming a customer’s reluctance to provide financial information is critical to converting Agreements to a monthly billing program.

When it comes to bank drafts, customers are more comfortable releasing their account information when you explain that they are not giving you open access to their bank account. Rather, auto debit arrangements are as though you are resubmitting the same original check written to you over and over again each month.

To that end – rather than asking for a blank, voided check for setting up the ACH bank draft –have the customer fill out an entire check with the monthly payment amount filled in. Have them put your company name in the ‘pay to’ section and in the memo section have them write the agreement information. Rather than sign it, have them sign ‘Void - for payment of monthly payment only’. This concrete act helps many customers overcome their reluctance.

As far as the agreement price itself, eliminate the annual price and state the price as a monthly payment only. If a customer wants to pay in advance for a year, just multiply by 12. This presentation eliminates the potential for customers to be upset for not getting a lower price for prepayment. Simply accept their payment either way.

Using these guidelines, you should gradually increase the number of monthly agreements. The monthly pay program provides an affordable price those who would otherwise not be able to participate in the agreement program due to the up-front cost.
©2004 Daniel R Squires
 

Problems Solved By SwiftWire

Most credit card software now provides for the creation of batches so payment data can be entered one time and processed monthly. It is a big improvement over entering the credit card number each month to process a payment. Some ACH software allows users to do the same thing.

But, inevitably, what is saved in entry time is offset in coordinating the accounting information between SuccessWare21 and the financial software payment batches. Depending on the amount of monthly billing, one person may be needed to keep track of billings within the SuccessWare21 Agreement module, and another to update the batches in the financial software. Then, before processing the payment data, both sides would need to be reconciled with the other so that accounting and payment data match. Having an ACH transaction come back NSF or a credit transaction declined creates further difficulty.

Additionally, once a monthly payment batch is changed in the financial software, the ‘audit trail’ showing ‘who’ was charged ‘how much’ and ‘when’ is lost. This information is needed when reconciling to the bank for deposits and also when presented with ‘NSF’s’ or ‘declines’. As a result, not just double, but triple entry is often required just to keep proper track of the entire process.

The only solution to this logistical nightmare is to somehow grab the payment transaction data prepared in SuccessWare21 and be able to import it into the financial software. But that alone is not enough. Controls are also needed to bring order to the process so that it can be easily managed and to provide an audit trail of the transaction history.

SwiftWire was developed to bridge this gap and meet these needs. It is more than just a way to process monthly pay agreements from SuccessWare21. It is a method that makes the process manageable.
©2004 Daniel R Squires

About SwiftWire's Author

Daniel Squires, is the General Manager of Vincent’s Heating & Plumbing, Port Huron, Michigan. He is a licensed Journeyman Plumber with field experience in plumbing and heating. Daniel also has a B.S. in Accounting and a background in data base applications and design.

Because of Daniel's background, the SwiftWire Users Manual is written from a different point of view. This is because he not only tells you how to use the SwiftWire program, but also shares insights and strategies about managing a monthly agreement program. As we all know, you can have the best tool in the world, but the key is in knowing how to apply it.
 
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