Integrated Payments: How Architects Streamline Business Processes
Unlike many professional businesses, the architecture industry has been quick to adapt to the modern world. From 3D blueprinting software to project management solutions, today’s architects have enjoyed many technology revolutions that have made their efforts faster and more in-depth than ever before. However, many firms have focused their attention on more powerful design technology, and as a result have ignored technologies and philosophies that can streamline their business processes.
Here, we’ll break down what it means to streamline your business processes, including arguably the most important aspect of your business—your billing.
What is a streamlined business process?
Simply put, streamlining any aspect of your business is to make it faster, more efficient, and operate more effectively overall. In the modern age, this is often accomplished through the use of software solutions to automate certain tasks, as well as work in tandem together to give you a bird’s eye view of your business to make informed decisions throughout the year.
Streamlining can be applied to several aspects of your business—streamlining your client intake process could help you weed out clients whose projects are beyond the scope of your firm or potentially impossible to accomplish properly with their budget or deadline. Updating your project management tools could increase productivity amongst your teammates. Implementing new communication tools could help resolve sudden project issues faster.
This is especially true in the midst of a global pandemic, when remote work is the norm. A recent study suggested that 51 percent of employees found their current work technologies inadequate for performing their jobs remotely. In times like these, upgrading your business process ensures your firm can continue to deliver peak performance and will future proof your firm in the event of another world-changing event.
Benefits of streamlining your payments process
Increasing profitability has also been a major goal among architecture firms in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with as much as 29 percent of them listing profitability as one of the biggest concerns going into 2021. Naturally, as 2020 resulted in less design and architectural work overall, many firms wonder how they can continue to drum up business with less in-person interactions.
Thankfully, streamlining your payments process can have a positive impact on your bottom line. By adopting payments software into your, accepting payments from clients becomes significantly faster. Speaking to the impact online payments has had on their business, designers AESTHETIC by Nick and Richie noted, “Getting paid faster has helped start up our business with increased cash flow. Not to mention the convenience for our clients.”
Gone are the days where you must wait for a check to arrive, and then deposit it into your bank. Online payments allow you to accept client payments electronically via credit cards, debit cards, and even electronic checks (or eChecks). And with no physical mail delivery necessary, these payments can begin processing immediately.
Plus, all transactions with online payments are automatically recorded into the software, which means less time spent tracking down paid invoices, as well as simplicity when it comes to reporting and reconciliation. When it comes to tax season, the best online payment solutions allow you to export your transaction data to your accounting software, saving you time in the process.
Advantages of integrating an online payment solution
Implementing online payments into your firm can both streamline your business and provide additional benefits. Let’s break down some of the key benefits below.
Speaking of automation, the best online payment solutions offer you the ability to set up automated recurring payments with your clients, where you can schedule a payment to occur at regular intervals. This opens both you and your client up to focus on your projects and business rather than worrying about the bill, as it will be taken care of and paid on time with little to no intervention from either of you.
Taking advantage of an online payment solution equips your firm with better protection against fraud and security breaches. The best online payment solutions are bolstered by advanced data security features to ensure your client’s payment data is safeguarded as much as possible.
Plus, with online payment solutions, you no longer have to write down sensitive card information from your clients, which by itself is already a large security risk. Instead, your clients enter their own information into the software, and it's on the payment solution to safeguard this information, removing the liability from you.
When accepting credit card payments, your firm must follow guidelines set in place by major credit card brands to ensure that payment data is kept safe. These guidelines are known as The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS. Part of adhering to these guidelines is ensuring your firm maintains compliance each year.
Your best bet is to look for an online payment solution that is already PCI compliant, as this demonstrates their commitment to data security. The best online payment solutions will also assist your firm in becoming PCI compliant by offering tips and step-by-step instructions for completing your assessments each year.
Implementing an online payment solution also grants you access to a billing support system. If there is ever an issue with payments, you can reach out to your online payment solution’s support center to resolve any issues you may have. The best among these solutions have dedicated support teams—real live human beings who you can actually speak to via phone or live chat, or email at your convenience, to answer your questions.
Why handle payments all on your own? Taking advantage of an online payment solution means you’re putting your billing in the hands of payment experts. These solutions will know how to handle events such as chargebacks, data breaches, and fraud should they ever come up while accepting payments online. Look for a solution that has years of experience for the best possible protection from these events.
Finally, using an online payment solution will increase your client’s satisfaction with your firm. Most modern consumers would strongly prefer to pay their invoices online using a credit card rather than write a check to send in the mail. A study conducted by ACI Worldwide in 2017 showed that as much as 61 percent of consumer bills were paid online.
Furthermore, clients want to work with professionals who offer online payments. For example, data in the 2018 Clio Legal Trends report showed that as much as 50 percent of clients preferred to hire a legal professional who accepted online payments.
By using online payments, you’ll present your firm as a modern business that can make payments easy and convenient. As an added bonus, clients will feel safer paying you with an online payment solution that is backed by security measures, as opposed to sending a check that can get lost in the mail.
How to integrate an online payment solution
With all of this in mind, how do you integrate an online payment solution into your firm so you can start streamlining your billing process? Simple! All you have to do is open an account with the online payment solution of your choice.
From there, your firm will be evaluated via an underwriting process, though with a specialized payments solution, this process can happen much faster, as they’ll be tailor made for a specific type of business/industry. Once finalized, you’ll link the bank account of your choice (for payment deposits) and be ready to process payments within 1-2 business days.
Some online payment solutions can even integrate with other software solutions, allowing you to process payments without leaving the apps you use everyday to conduct business. For example, ClientPay can integrate with BQE Core and Deltek Costpoint, allowing you to process payments directly within a powerful practice management and accounting solution.
Between faster, more reliable operations and enhanced client satisfaction, your firm can only benefit from a streamlined process. And with online payments, you can streamline both your billing and your revenue, while offering your clients the payment options they want. It’s a win-win.