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Pay The Easy Way

Save money and time by moving to online invoicing and payments

How much are you spending to mail invoices each month? Between the cost of paper, printing and postage, and the human resources expenses, it could be adding up.

Billy Colquitt, owner of All About Pools in Sumter, South Carolina, was spending $400 a month just on postage — but after adding online bill pay, the company spends just $20 to $25.

Colquitt has all but made his customers pay their bills online. “We just really pushed it,” he says. “The older customers who don’t want to use a computer, we still send them an invoice. But we try to make all of our new customers [pay online] and have converted probably 95 percent of our existing customers.”

All About Pools is a customer of RB Control Systems, business-management software made specifically for the pool industry. The pool company added the online bill-pay module RB offers, so its customer information was already in the system and ready to go. All About Pools doesn’trun or store any card information; the processing company does it all automatically.

Rachel Pritz, executive director at RB Controls, is surprised how slowly the industry is converting to online invoicing and bill pay given the time and money it’s saving RB clients. “It’s kind of a [customer] expectation — a lot of people pay their bills online, and they expect to have that service,” Pritz says. “But it’s a hard transition for business owners to provide that to their customers.”

There are many options for adding online bill pay, from plugins you simply add to your website and connect to your credit card processor, to add-ons to your point-of-sale or accounting software. Existing RB Controls customers can add the service as long as they are using a credit card processor that interfaces with RB Controls. RB does the setup remotely. The pool company would need to add emails for the customers who want to pay online.

The customer receives an email prompting them to set up a username and password to log in to the site, Pritz says. “Then any time an invoice is created, the customer would automatically receive an email to let them know their invoice is ready. The customer logs into their site, sees their invoices and pays them.”

Colquitt, who has been using online bill pay for about two years, believes offering the service has brought them new customers. The company is near a military base, where a lot of homes end up being leased while the owners are stationed elsewhere. “The homeowner is picking put the service tab, but they can’t see the pool,” Colquitt says. “Having to mail a check and send out a statement becomes a hassle.” Real-estate companies that help manage properties make their customers aware of the service, helping Colquitt add those accounts.

Pritz says she thinks more pool-company customers will start demanding online bill pay. And as more pool companies are handed down or sold to younger owners, it will become the norm. But in the meantime, she says, “For a lot of pool dealers it’s a learning curve and it’s something new. It’s changing the way that they do business, and that’s the biggest hurdle for people.”

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