HERE ARE THREE dedicated software solutions for billing clients, marking pipe, and managing contacts.
The first is a billing solution that eliminates the risk of any payment “getting lost” in the mail because it intentionally bypasses the mail altogether. Targeted to small- to medium-sized companies that bill customers on a regular basis, EZ Payment Services.com’s new online system (www.ezpaymentservices.com, 800/220-0468) replaces the traditional mailing of monthly and other invoices to customers with electronic invoicing and payment acceptance.
The system is set up to e-mail customers their invoices and offer them the opportunity to instantly pay them online, with payment going directly into the contractor’s account. The process uses true 128-bit SSL encryption to funnel electronic funds from one pocket to another via processing through the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. As soon as the electronic payment is made, contractor and customer both receive e-mails confirming the transaction.
The solution, which carries fees for each invoice amounting to 52 cents per invoice (there is also a one-time $295 bank fee to sign up for the service), eliminates presumably higher costs associated with sending paper bills and processing manual checks, and it also speeds cash flow. Funds are available to the contractor four days after the customer makes the online payment, which is, presumably, shorter than the typical lag time for a mailed check to be received, processed, deposited and cleared by a bank.
As the company notes, online payment with electronic funds also eliminates any credit card company discount rate (though companies also have the option of establishing a merchant account that lets customers pay with a credit card at a cost of 8 cents per transaction plus the average discount rate of approximately 2.29% of total invoice for the merchant account).
Clients reluctant to pay electronically can print the invoice and still mail a check.
Companies can also review their customer transaction history and receivable balances at any time. Software users can e-mail messages to a single customer, all customers that meet certain criteria or all their customers. This makes it easy, for example, to automatically send gentle reminder messages to clients whose balances exceed 30 days and to send a sterner notice to those with outstanding balances of more than 60 days.
If they like, clients can automate the process of paying regular invoices.
The program accepts an imported flat file database containing customers and invoices from the existing accounting system and allows users to add a logo and descriptive files to any invoice.
Print tags and markers
K-Sun Corp.’s PipeMarkerV2 system (www.ksun.com or www.maxisoft.com, 800/622-6312, ext. 208) offers facilities or organizations the ability to produce their own safety compliant signs, labels, markers or tags for marking piping systems, valves, tags, conduit, hoses and cables. The solution, which includes MaxiSoft PipeMarkerV2 Windows-based software, a thermal transfer printer and all-weather PolyDurable pressure-sensitive materials matched to the ANSI color standards, allows maintenance personnel or others to create standard or custom identification.
The software features more than 500 pre-defined, ready-to-print pipe markers or tags that comply with OSHA, ANSI, and several other safety regulations and standards. The product also supports custom design to accommodate additional specific identification applications not addressed by the preformatted database, enabling users to use customized text, pictographs, directional flow arrows, safety signal word headers, serial numbers and ISO-compliant symbols to create other markers and tags.
Designed to meet information tracking needs of businesses with up to 20 employees, QuickBooks Customer Manager (www.customermanager.com) is a stand-alone desktop software package that consolidates client information, allows users to schedule appointments and link them to clients and offers instant access to accumulated data through a single interface.
Users can organize contacts by groups and categories (clients, vendors, projects, etc.) and filter and sort contact list, to-do list, project list or communications history. The program can hold up to 10 different addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses per contact.
The solution can import from and synchronize with QuickBooks 2003 and 2004 and Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, eliminating double entry of related data and streamlining review of open balances or other client records and the sending of e-mail to contacts. Some other applications may also be imported.
Key client data appear on a single screen, making it easy for staff in the office to access any data needed to respond to a phone call from a client, a vendor or an employee in the field.
Users can attach letters, faxes, e-mails, spreadsheets, appointments, notes and other relevant document files to client records, for quick retrieval and reference.
Text-enhanced pop-ups remind users of important to-dos and appointments for in-office reference or for instant re-routing by e-mail to others.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content and write for magazines, trade associations, manufacturers and other companies. They can be reached at [email protected].