Running a small business can be the most fulfilling experience. You get to utilize your expertise to help others while also having the freedom to set your own schedule and do what you love. However, managing business finances is a real pain. We understand invoicing, billing, and accounts receivable are essential to running a business, but they consume an enormous amount of your time and energy. These tasks take your focus away from your core work and leave you lagging at client services. Luckily, there's a solution (automation!) so you can focus on your expertise and leave manual, time-consuming business tasks to Cone Proposal-to-Payment.
Why does your business need to automate AR tasks?
By automating AR processes, small businesses can save up to 60% of the time and resources spent on manual processes, allowing staff to focus on core business activities.
Small businesses may face various challenges if they opt not to automate their accounts receivable (AR) process. These challenges include manual errors, inefficiency, delays, cash flow problems, increased administrative workload, limited insights and reporting, customer dissatisfaction, security and compliance risks, and scalability limitations.
Manual data entry can lead to errors, such as incorrect invoice amounts, miskeyed customer information, or miscalculations. This results in delayed payments, disputes, and strained customer relationships.
Time-consuming processes are manual, error-prone, and inefficient, making promptly identifying and resolving payment issues challenging.
Cash flow problems due to delayed or missed payments happen often. Without automation, a lack of timely reminders for overdue payments, streamlined next steps, and real-time integration can slow your business down.
Manual AR processes require more manual labor, such as data entry, filing, and organizing paper documents, which can divert staff's focus from core business activities.
Manual processes also make it challenging to access real-time data and generate comprehensive reports, thus making it harder to gain insights into cash flow, outstanding invoices, and customer payment trends.
Inefficient processes make it difficult for customers to resolve billing inquiries or make timely payments. Manual processes can also be vulnerable to security breaches, theft or mishandled paper documents. They can increase the risk of human error and potential non-compliance with data protection regulations.Embracing automation can help small businesses overcome these challenges and streamline their AR operations for improved efficiency and financial management.
How Does AR Automation Work?
AR automation streamlines the entire accounts receivable process, from generating invoices to receiving payments and reconciling accounts. Here's a step-by-step overview of how AR automation works:
- Invoice Generation: The automation system, like Cone, pulls relevant data, such as customer information, product or service details, and pricing, from your business records or CRM. It then generates accurate and professional invoices automatically based on this data.
- Invoice Delivery: The system can send invoices via email or through customer portals, ensuring prompt delivery and reducing the chances of lost or misplaced invoices.
- Payment Options: AR automation platforms often offer multiple payment options, including ACH transfers, credit cards, online payment gateways, Direct Debits, and Standing orders. This provides customers with convenient ways to settle their dues.
- Payment Reminders: The automation system can be set to send automated payment reminders to customers before the due date and follow-up notifications for overdue payments. These reminders encourage timely payments.
- Payment Processing: When customers make payments, the automation system records and reconciles them in real time, updating the accounting system simultaneously. This integration eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces the risk of errors.
- Reporting and Analytics: AR automation platforms often come with real-time analytics dashboards that provide insights into cash flow, outstanding invoices, customer payment trends, and other critical financial data. These reports aid in informed decision-making and financial management.
How would automation help me?
Essentially, it's a fancy way of saying we're using technology to make our lives easier. By automating business processes, we can take all the tedious and repetitive tasks and let computers securely handle them.
With A/R automation, you will bring invoicing into the digital age. The system handles everything from creating invoices based on your company's data to sending them electronically on set dates and even following up with reminders. Plus, it can handle multiple types of payments like ACH, credit card, and PayPal. And the best part? It reconciles all payments with your accounting systems, so you don't have to worry about a thing.
Challenges in Automating Accounts Receivable and How to Overcome Them
While AR automation offers numerous benefits, it may also present some challenges during implementation. Here are common challenges and ways to overcome them:
Integration Complexity: Integrating AR automation with existing systems, such as accounting software or CRM for accountant, can be challenging. Choose a solution that offers seamless integration or work with experienced consultants to ensure smooth integration.
Resistance to Change: Employees may initially resist automation due to fear of job loss or unfamiliarity with new technology. Provide comprehensive training and emphasize the benefits of automation to gain employee buy-in.
Data Security Concerns: Automation involves handling sensitive financial data, raising concerns about data security. Opt for a reputable and secure AR automation provider that follows industry best practices for data protection.
AR Automation Best Practices
To maximize the effectiveness of AR automation, consider implementing these best practices:
- Clean and Accurate Data: Ensure your business data is clean and accurate before implementing automation. This helps prevent errors and ensures the automation system functions correctly.
- Personalized Communication: While automation streamlines communication, ensure customer interactions feel personalized and human. Customize email templates and messages to maintain a positive customer experience.
- Regular Updates: Keep the automation system up-to-date with the latest software versions and security patches to safeguard against vulnerabilities.
- Monitor and Analyze: Continuously monitor the automation system's performance and analyze the data provided by the analytics dashboard to identify areas for improvement and optimize the process.
Benefits of AR Automation
Time and Cost Savings = Increased Productivity
Manually managing invoices and billing is time-consuming and error-prone. With automation tools, create and send invoices, receive payments, and manage your accounts receivable with just a few clicks.
Reduced Errors = Improved Accuracy
Manually managing invoices and billing can also lead to errors and inaccuracies. Automation tools will automatically calculate taxes, discounts, and late fees, ensuring accurate invoices and billing, even when they are too many. This can help you avoid costly mistakes that can hurt your bottom line.
Improved Cash Flow = Efficient Operations
Late payments can significantly challenge your business. Automation tools can send reminders to customers when payments are due and follow up with them if they are late. It never misses a Client follow-up, even if you do. This can help you get paid faster and improve your cash flow.
Enhanced Customer Experience = Positive Customer Relationships
Automating your business tasks can also enhance the customer experience. Send professional-looking invoices and receipts branded with your business logo. This will create a positive impression on your customers and improve their overall experience with your business.
By embracing AR automation, businesses can streamline their accounts receivable processes, reduce administrative burdens, and boost their bottom line, ultimately positioning themselves for long-term success in a competitive market.
How does Cone Proposal-to-Payment help automate Accounts Receivable?
We help our customers automate from the proposal to the payment process. We believe one of the biggest gaps in business process automation is solving for complete business workflows. Let me explain. It is easy to find tools or software for invoicing, billing, sending proposals, email communications, and CRM - but is it possible to do all of this on one software? Nope. You will still end up using multiple tools and trying to align your tools to work efficiently and definitely not being cost-effective.
Cone Proposal-to-Payment streamlines and automates from creating proposals to getting paid in one platform.
Business benefits from automating Accounts Receivable
- Save Time and Improve Efficiency Manually managing invoices and billing is time-consuming and error-prone. With automation tools, create and send invoices, receive payments, and manage your accounts receivable with just a few clicks.
- Reduce Errors and Improve Accuracy Manually managing invoices and billing can also lead to errors and inaccuracies. Automation tools will automatically calculate taxes, discounts, and late fees, ensuring accurate invoices and billing, even when they are too many. This can help you avoid costly mistakes that can hurt your bottom line.
- Improve Cash Flow Late payments can significantly challenge your business. Automation tools can send reminders to customers when payments are due and follow up with them if they are late. It never misses a Client follow-up, even if you do. This can help you get paid faster and improve your cash flow.
- Enhance Customer Experience Automating your business tasks can also enhance the customer experience. Send professional-looking invoices and receipts branded with your business logo. This will create a positive impression on your customers and improve their overall experience with your business.
The future of doing business and receiving payments
As technology evolves, automating business tasks becomes increasingly important. Discover the benefits of automation tools! By simplifying complex tasks, reducing errors, and enhancing customer satisfaction, you can stay competitive in a constantly changing business environment. By automating your workflow, you can free up time to focus on core tasks such as business expansion and enhancing service quality. Take action now and automate your business processes!
To witness how automation can benefit your business, check out our product Cone Proposal-to-Payment a free software, which provides end-to-end proposals to payment automation.