As billing agent for our security company customers, we are often asked to help set up multiple location billing. The situation could be as simple as billing both a home and a business or lake house on a single bill. On the other hand, it can be as complex as billing 300+ supermarket locations on a single master bill, in a way that provides the details the subscriber needs.
There are a few customer management ‘best practices’ to keep in mind when setting up multi-location clients. One it to make sure every client site location has its own record in your account management software. Even though you need to roll multiple locations into a single bill, having a record for each site makes it much easier if, say, you need to make a service call to one of the sites to fix something.
Depending on what your software allows you to store in a site record, you may even want to separate different systems at the same physical location. For example, if a customer has both a burg system and a fire/sprinkler system at the same site, you may decide it’s best to give each of these its own customer record—identifying the unique central station numbers, the different equipment lists, varying recurring charge details, etc.
The best practice here is establishing complete granularity down to the system level. It’s rarely a problem to provide too much detail, whereas it can often create problems when not enough detail is available as you manage accounts. Some of our customers prefer to provide ‘bundled’ pricing for multiple services. This can work alright, but in our experience providing detailed, unbundled breakouts of the services results in fewer inbound calls asking “What’s included in this dollar amount?”
Find out what your customer needs to see on the ‘master’ bill, and set it up to provide exactly that. In some cases, our customers’ subscribers need to see street addresses on the master bill. In other cases, they prefer to see names, like “Subway – Store #12345” to best identify what is being billed. In addition, they nearly always need to see specifics on the services being billed…for example:
- Service period, e.g. “October 1 – December 31, 2016”
- Services provided, e.g. “Fire Monitoring Services”, “Open/Close Reports”
- Detailed fees, e.g. pretax total, taxes billed, total due
Commercial customers may also need to see the Purchase Order number issued to cover the ongoing recurring services—so in setup, there should be a way to store that information and print it on the master invoice.
The actual process of creating the final bill is very dependent on the features available in the software you are using. In a perfect world, we recommend that all the site details, service details, and fee details be stored directly in each site (or system) record—then in the billing process, these are ‘rolled up’ to a master account bill automatically. That bill can then be printed and mailed, or emailed, or both. Cornerstone’s software supports this type of complex, multi-location roll up billing. That structure means that if one site closes, it’s automatically excluded from the next roll-up bill.
However, your software may not have this power. If not, you’ll like need to use one account/site as the master billing location, with all the necessary site/service/fee details loaded into that account. Then, if something changes, that recurring transaction needs to be edited.
Either way, the end result should be a single invoice with all the details your subscriber needs to be able to get payment to you quickly, no questions asked.
Photo Credit: istockphoto | bigdoug2005