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Improving Your Cash Flow by Disrupting Your Firm

Improving Your Cash Flow by Disrupting Your Firm

Nov 17, 2020 | By Steven Burns, FAIA | 0 Comments

Topics: Integration, Invoicing, Featured

 

Dear reader, you’ll want to stick around for the final paragraph (don’t peek yet), in order to understand that finally, there is some disruption to your business that you will welcome with open arms.

The Problem

Breaking old habits is hard. For decades, professional service firms have been grinding away, typically on a monthly basis, to create invoices to send their clients. That process often takes days to gather staff’s time and expenses and figure out how to convert that into something sensible that can be presented in an invoice. Finally. When all that effort is completed, the firm then sits back and waits, often 4 weeks, until their clients pay the invoices. 

And the client’s habit of paying invoices is just as archaic. If the client is a business, most likely they have an accounting software program and they will manually enter the invoice as a vendor bill. It will sit there until the term for payment is coming up and then issue a check so it arrives, courtesy of the US Postal Service, exactly on the due date.

If the client is an individual, they might be even less sophisticated. It might sit in an inbox and remain neglected until the firm calls them for collections. Then they sound embarrassed and give the proverbial reply “the check is in the mail.”

Either way you look at this, it’s as archaic as a horse and buggy. I might even consider it “quaint”, if it weren’t so critical and unnecessary.

Solving the Three Stages of Frustration

Today, professional service firms have native-cloud systems available to them such as BQE CORE, which radically change the entire workflow described above making everything better for both the firm and their clients.

STAGE 1: Time & Expenses

It all starts with the most advanced time and expense tracking system ever conceived. After 25 years studying the problem BQE Software has developed the smartest timecard available for professional service firms. The BQE CORE platform can actually predict not only what projects and activities each employee ought to be working on each week, but the BQE CORE mobile app can automatically track employee car mileage and link the associated charges to the appropriate project. In addition, the mobile app is also monitoring the time employees spend in any location and if it is associated with a client or project, automatically recommend that time (down to the minute), be charged to the appropriate project.

And since having employees track their time in a timecard is one of the oldest jokes in professional service firms, BQE has raised the stakes by helping move firms from manual entry to a “zero-touch” system. In the worst scenarios, an employee might have to spend one-minute each day working on their timecard.

STAGE 2: Invoicing

Not only has BQE been leading the industry in developing the smartest technology to help every member of your firm track their time and expenses, but they have automated the entire invoicing process. 

The real-world scenario I described at the top of this blog is happening millions of times every month. There over 1,200,000 professional service firms culling through the time and expenses of a workforce of 9,400,000 employees in order to generate approximately 10,000,000 invoices each month, I can safely say that nearly 1,000 person-years are expended every month to get all those invoices produced and sent to clients (in the United States alone). 

I wish I had a nickel for each time I heard a BQE CORE customer testimonial that went something like this: 

“Before BQE CORE, our invoicing would take three days each month. Now it takes only 3 hours.” 

Basically, this means the automation systems in BQE CORE saves 88% of their effort. In the classic testimonial above, what would your firm do with 21 extra hours each month? You can do the simple math to figure out what 21 hours is also worth converted from overhead to billable time!

For those of you who are laughing because you don’t bother with tracking time since your firm uses fixed fee contracts or value-based billing; don’t be so smug. If you don’t have your staff tracking time you will never, ever know which projects are more profitable; which clients are more profitable and which employees are most efficient and profitable. You’ll never know the difference between the losers and the winners. Tracking time is absolutely essential.

STAGE 3: Getting Paid

Once again I get to start by saying, not only has BQE led the industry in developing a native cloud solution that simplifies and automates time and expense tracking AND invoicing, but BQE CORE also automates and simplifies the entire collections or Accounts Payable processes. Using BQE CORE you can now enjoy a totally zero-touch workflow. For years, BQE has enabled firms to electronically invoice their clients (no more printing and mailing). But the client finally has the ability to pay electronically which provides them with two major benefits.

First, paying electronically means the firm doesn’t have to print and mail any checks. This requires administrative time that is not only inefficient and repetitive, but obsolete. Furthermore, if a firm wants to enable their clients to pay via ACH or credit card (or both), they can control these options in BQE CORE. For example, some firms may want to allow their client to pay with a credit card but don’t want to take the hit on the service fees from MasterCard, Visa or American Express. In a situation like that, the firm can pass on the full or partial cost of those fees to the client who will benefit from the points earned by using their credit card. 

Of course, paying via ACH has a nominal cost that isn’t even worth discussing. Rather than taking a percentage of an invoice, ACH maxes out at $2 per transaction. Not a bad deal considering your client just sent you $10,000. I’ll gladly give up one fancy cup of barista-made coffee to get $10,000 instantly.

BQE CORE, didn’t stop by simply giving firms the ability to accept payment via credit card or ACH. They also partnered with AffiniPay, one of the fastest-growing financial technology companies in the United States. With their industry accepted solutions like LawPay, CPACharge, DesignPay and AffiniPay for Associations - firms in Legal, Accounting, Architecture, Engineering and other industries can now benefit from the state-of-the art technology for electronic payments that is endorsed by their professional associations. Furthermore, AffiniPay is a proven, rock-solid technology used by over 150,000 professionals and has more than 150 strategic partnerships including the American Bar Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Conclusion

If your firm is finally ready to trade-in your horse and buggy for an autonomous driving vehicle, now is the time for you to look at implementing BQE CORE for your firm. You will not only find benefits in tracking time and expenses and invoicing your clients - but you finally have an automated system that will receive electronic payments from your clients - transfer the funds to your designated account instantly and have zero-touch. BQE CORE simply notifies you that your client has paid the invoice and the money is in your account. No more reconciliations required.

 

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The Author

Steven Burns, FAIA

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing his firm Burns + Beyerl Architects. After creating ArchiOffice®, the smart office and project management solution for architectural firms, Steve brought his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is perfecting the business strategy and product development.

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