As we move into the new year, now is the time to stop and consider what 2020 has meant for your business.
The pandemic has shown us that working by distance could very easily become the norm given the right circumstances. It has also shown us that the trades, services and construction sectors are not immune to the pressures created by the need to operate remotely.
It’s no great stretch of the imagination then, to assume that digitisation is on the minds of many professionals as this year comes to a close.
If you remain daunted by the prospect of moving your longstanding business practices into a digital format then don’t worry, we’re here to help you take some simple steps to get your operations not only digitised but automated as well.
In this article specifically, we’ll be focussing on digitising and automating cash flow systems. This is an area worth focussing on because income is without a doubt the most important facet of any successful business. Not to mention that COVID-19 has shown just how important it is to have the right systems in place to ensure you’re getting paid quickly for your hard work.
To help explain the processes and their strengths in detail, we’ll be using our own software AroFlo where necessary to provide examples of the benefits of a digital cash flow system. You’ll learn how such a system can allow you to take payments in the field, adjust costings on the fly, and even make your accounting package woes a thing of the past.
This article will be split up into three sections:
1. Automated digital invoicing
2. Digital payment options and payment gateways
3. Accounting integrations
We’ll ensure that what’s broadly discussed in these sections applies to any trade, service or construction business. However, where necessary we’ll also include some business-specific considerations that are worth thinking about when weighing up the value of digitising your existing cash flow system.
Automated Digital Invoicing
No matter which way you look at it, automated invoicing on a digital platform is leagues ahead of manual methods, even in its simplest form.
The key to improving your cash flow starts with taking as many needlessly time-consuming processes out of the equation as possible. Then, it’s a matter of ensuring that the remaining systems you have in place for moving money are as efficient as they can be.
Automated digital invoicing eliminates the need to generate custom invoices and waste time inputting job details and client information. Instead, you draw the information you need directly from a stored location. An example of this in practice would be how a job management software such as AroFlo lets you generate invoices using details stored within the system. By taking information directly from a job and placing them into an invoice template, you can ensure that your invoices are accurate and can also be quickly traced back to the job they’re tied to.
This lets you easily see whether or not you’re being paid on time for the work you complete, as well as whether you have any outstanding invoices that need to be followed up.
It’s also worth mentioning that not all digital invoicing options have a level of automation suitable for the trades, services and construction sectors. In the case of many industries within these sectors, it’s the end-to-end invoicing systems that stand apart as the most effective solutions to poor cash flow. This is because they seek to solve the issue we laid out at the beginning of this section and replace manual processes with automation and efficiency.
With this in mind, here are some business-specific considerations that can help you decide whether a system is the right fit for your business.
Does your business need periodic or recurring invoices?
This can make or break a system for many businesses, particularly those in the service or maintenance industries. If you work with clients over long periods at pre-determined intervals, your cash flow might be seriously affected by not having a proper system for automatically dispensing invoices at set dates.
Do you need to create or raise invoices in the field?
For field technicians or those working on the move, invoicing on the spot can be a crucial addition to improving overall cash flow. Field invoicing capabilities also cut down on admin and travel time, which can instantly increase overall business efficiency.
Do you need to apply mark-ups, discounts, or custom costs to your invoices?
A must-have for many businesses, the ability to alter prices on invoices without wasting unnecessary amounts of time can be a gamechanger for improving cash flow. If you’re unfamiliar with this functionality, here’s how it works in AroFlo’s contemporary digital invoicing system.
Digital Payment Options and Payment Gateways
Digital payment options need no introduction and many professionals on the move are already using EFTPOS or an equivalent machine to take card payments in the field.
But, just like the title of this section, the potential increases to the efficiency of your cashflow here come from increased options, owing to recent technological developments and new competitors entering the market.
Leading the charge in this domain are payment gateways, a merchant service that lets you authorise and process payments without the need to sign up with a big bank. This gives you an incredible amount of freedom to choose a way of taking payment for your work that’s right for your business, something that’s crucial for increasing your overall cash flow.
There are a lot of providers in the market, such as eWay, Pin Payments, Stripe and Square just to name a few. But something they all share is that they’re fiercely competitive with each other, meaning you can shop around as much as you like for the right fit.
An added benefit of payment gateways is that they often allow you to turn your mobile devices into the equivalent of an EFTPOS machine. For professionals on the move, this is one less piece of equipment you need with you every day. That alone might be what sways you to take payment in the field rather than invoicing after the job is complete. These benefits may sound minor but remember, any payment you take on the day is money that’s reaching your pocket faster than before and every little increase adds up.