Company: Safe Streets USA
Location: Garner, North Carolina
SafeStreets USA is one of ADT’s oldest, largest, and most experienced Authorized Dealers operating in 46 states across the US. The company does over 50,000 alarm installations annually and about 98% are residential customers
Like many security dealers, SafeStreets was using a database type of system for billing. The company was able to offer basic payment and invoicing services, but was not able to implement the newest, most customer-friendly technology. Because SafeStreets was growing rapidly, its executive management decided that the business needed to offer its subscribers more options, both for issuing invoices and for taking payments.
Identifying SafeStreets’ Needs
In the spring of 2012—more than 10 years ago—SafeStreet’s Accounting Manager began a search for a more robust billing and payments system. At the time, the company had a small accounting department of six people, who were responsible for all accounting functions such as accounts payable and accounts receivable, billing for recurring charges, and corporate financial reporting. Their existing database billing system had substantial limitations, and their growth dictated that the business find a system that offered them much more.
Weighing the company’s immediate and longer-term needs, the accounting team’s high priority checklist included:
- Multiple payment and invoicing options were needed for their customers, including emailing, autopay credit card and ACH, and – ideally – a user-friendly payment portal to enable payments online.
- The new system had to offer not just account and subscriber reporting, but accurate financial reporting.
- Maintaining data integrity, by having the ability to set security permissions and very granular access to different functions for various employee levels, on a user-by-user basis.
- Choosing a software platform/vendor that was pro-active in evolving its software and adding features and functions continuously.
Choosing Cornerstone Billing Solutions
As SafeStreets’ Accounting Manager reviewed several software systems against the list of key needs, she found most companies and options were lacking. Offering granular user-based security was one of the most common weaknesses. While some systems did allow customers to pay online, and had the ability to send invoices via email, SafeStreets found that subscriber and financial reporting was usually too basic.
In August of 2012, SafeStreets chose Cornerstone Billing Solutions as its outsource recurring billing and payment processing provider. The transition was complete less than six weeks later. Cornerstone met (and exceeded) the key search criteria:
- Full range of invoicing options—paper, autopay, email (and combinations of these)
- Comprehensive payment processing—check (lock box), ACH, card, online
- Robust database and financial reporting, including flexible query tools
- Granular security settings for precise control of different user access levels
- A software vendor that was constantly investing in new features, with frequent software updates (usually multiple updates monthly)
Benefits and Advantages
SafeStreets uses Cornerstone Billing Solutions to perform monthly recurring billing services, like clockwork. Invoices include the company’s logo and branding, so Cornerstone is behind the scenes. The move to Cornerstone automated the process of online bill payment for subscribers, through the popular, easy-to-use www.AlarmPayments.com website, which ended up saving SafeStreets a great deal of administrative time.
Cornerstone’s reporting functions have been one of the key advantages. The reporting and built-in audits help SafeStreets quickly get them financial details that help find possible missed billing—before the bills are created. The accounting team also credits the Cornerstone system with significantly improving customer retention. Per their Accounting Manager, “The collections process becaume very consistent, so customers know that if they don’t pay by the due date, they’d be getting that follow up call, email reminder, or friendly collection letter.” With clockwork consistent invoicing, customers know exactly when to expect their bill, and they know they will need to pay it timely, or will start receiving a series of reminders.
The SafeStreets accounting team commented that Cornerstone’s support has been first-rate, and has helped them improve communication with their subscribers. Correspondence Logs automatically capture things like statements and emails sent, and Cornerstone’s Support Note feature helps the team track payment patterns or note if a customer is having a problem or is unhappy with any part of the service. This enables Safe Street to proactively address problems and has led to improved customer relationships and better retention.
In Summary—Main Benefits
“You can find a database program that just bills and that is all that it does,” noted SafeStreets’ Accounting Manager. “In fact, most billing software is just a database. Cornerstone goes so much farther…if offers both complete billing services, AND the financial reporting that is critical for any company that is trying to grow.”
When asked to sum up the main benefits of their move to Cornerstone Billing Solutions, the SafeStreets team offered these three:
- Software is easy to use
- Complete, accurate financial and subscriber growth information
- Comprehensive billing services make it far more than a ‘database’