client reading and inputting card information into online portal from laptop

The Hidden Costs of Accepting Checks for Payment vs Online Billing

Is digital transformation knocking on your accounting firm’s door? Why switch to digital payment processing when paper billing and invoicing works just fine?

Some clients prefer to pay in checks, and others use software or mobile apps when conducting anything finance-related. Either way, limiting your invoicing options (especially with paper-based bills) could chase some clients away.

Although it may seem easier, there are hidden costs to keeping paper communications. And you can find a digital solution that works for your firm and every one of your clients.

Hidden costs of accepting checks

Maximizing ROI goes beyond increasing sales — it extends into your billing costs. Saving resources from invoicing can optimize your budget that much more for advertising, events, and maybe even a new office chair.

According to a survey conducted by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP):

Only 5 percent of organizations have no plans to convert from checks to electronic payments, while five percent are unsure.”

And in our own survey with QuickFee partners, we found that very few of their clients want to continue using paper checks. So how much is it worth to your ROI to compromise a large majority of your other client base that prefer digital invoicing options?

How much does processing checks affect your business?

Consider these costs for processing paper checks:

Bank Fees

Banks typically charge business accounts transaction, cash deposit, and monthly fees. Additionally, the checks themselves usually cost $4.00 – $20.00 each. These costs may be small individually (and some banks will sometimes waive them), but they still rack up, especially when your client load and transactions increase.

Late Payments

In the same QuickFee survey mentioned above, we also found that an average of 29% of firms are still mailing invoices directly.

And although it’s not a direct cost, receiving late payments through the mail can disrupt your cash flow. When clients receive invoices way after merchant services are completed, the chances of getting that invoice fulfilled decrease by the day.

Labor

Consider the time spent inputting invoicing data, printing the bill, putting it in an envelope, then having a postage service deliver it — then there’s the manual data entry afterward.

According to a survey conducted by AP Automation,

[out of] 500 companies, the modernization efforts to get rid of paper invoices and speed up invoice processing are the same impetus that has propelled many others to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives … ”

The Great Resignation

The “Great Resignation” has also put a strain on accounting firm staff.

An Arzient survey found that,

53% of accounting leaders expect their employees to return to the office full-time within a year — compared to 43% of all surveyed respondents.

After gaining more hats to wear left by resigned employees, staff must deal with additional and unnecessary tasks from outdated billing processes.

How paper billing can affect brand reputation

In addition to all these costs (including supplies and postage), not having a consistent billing and invoicing process can impact client engagement — and ultimately, your brand.

If clients are limited to paper checks to fulfill those invoices, they could turn to another accounting service with a better billing and payment process.

Here are more reasons that could cause clients to run to other accounting firms:

  • Having an outdated invoicing system.
  • Lacking integrations with client emails or applications.
  • Not taking any suggestions for a better billing process.
  • Making clients call on the phone or drive to pay invoices.

Is it better to pay bills online or by check?

Well, better is subjective. Streamlining the payment process by billing online is worth incorporating into your budget. Many companies have answered their audiences’ call for more evolved invoicing, and have responded by jumping on board with payment digitization.

According to a MineralTree report conducted:

The total mix of electronic vs. paper-based payments continues to shift. Businesses report paying 56% of their invoices electronically and 44% via paper [in 2020] vs. 52% and 48% respectively a year ago [in 2019].”  

Paper checks could become obsolete in the near future if this trend continues.

Cost savings with billing automation

You don’t have to use paper invoicing to have a literal paper trail. Pretty much every digital payment processing product or application integrates with other digital solutions.

For every accounting task, there’s a solution or integration available to automate quotes, invoices, tax statements, payroll, payment processing, and more. And these automated tasks can add up in labor cost savings.

The same MineralTree survey mentioned above also found that,

“[mid-market] businesses can save 75% or more when they automate their accounts payable processes — spending approximately $5 per invoice vs. $20 doing it manually.

How do I convince clients to switch to online payments?

To begin with, you need to identify which payment option your client needs to receive and fulfill their invoice. (Remember — one size doesn’t fit all). Take the extra time to educate them about financing options and how to go through with making payments.

Here’s a step-by-step of what this client onboarding looks like:

  1. Show your clients the invoicing system and its features.
  2. Educate them on exactly how it works.
  3. Let the client choose which payment plan they want to use.
  4. Receive the funds from them through an online portal.

Personalizing the payment process improves client engagement and retention — and they’re more likely to come back next tax season.

And since online security is an ongoing concern for any user, offering a secure payment portal can help when discussing digital payment options.

There’s no hiding with a clear, accessible payment solution.

What do digital solutions have that paper billing doesn’t? QuickFee’s payment solution suite offers accountants everything they need in a payment processing product.

Pay in Full with credit card and ACH can allow you to accept payments through a secure portal — instead of waiting for them in a mailbox.

Pay Over Time with financing flexibility offers better options to clients needing more accommodation with payment plans.

What to look for in a digital payment solution:

  • Integrations with other financing software.
  • Accessibility to pay anywhere, at any time.
  • Flexibility with payment options.
  • Multiple payment plans to choose.

And QuickFee has all of that for your firm so that you can be better prepared for tax season.

You can have a digital solution that simplifies and optimizes billing, invoicing, and payment processing. When you move away from paper communication, you move into a digitally transformed business.

Digitize your financing for faster, more manageable payments. Schedule a demo today.

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