There is no denying it, with Bill.com paying bills has never been easier. But first, why is setting our vendors up for ePayments so important, besides the fact that it’s the environmentally friendly thing to do? Well, the first reason that comes to mind is the cost savings. At only forty-nine cents each, Bill.com ePayments are a third the cost of check payments. Next, ePayments are much quicker and more reliable than paper checks. On average, ePayments arrive 1-2 days faster than paper checks and never get lost in the mail. And finally, this payment method is more secure and convenient for your vendors, since it eliminates the potential for lost or stolen payments and provides the convenience of direct deposit.
Getting vendors set up to receive ePayments isn’t difficult, but it takes a little bit of time and some patience. In this article I will break down the different methods for getting vendors set up to receive ePayments, discuss what type of vendor each method is best suited for, and offer some valuable tips to ensure a smooth transition and a high adoption rate.
The Bill.com Network feature was officially introduced in early 2014 but has actually been around for many years. Before its public debut, companies had to manually connect to each other by sharing their Payment Network IDs. Throughout the last several years, Bill.com has continued to make enhancements including Network Invites and Network Recommendations, which automate the process of sharing your Payment Network ID. In addition, users are prompted to populate a few key fields when adding a new vendor from the vendor list and Bill.com will automatically search the Network for potential matches.
Your first glimpse of the Network might be on your Bill.com Home Page. If one of your vendors already uses Bill.com to receive payments, a notification with the option to connect will be displayed on the home page. Bill.com compares the name and zip code to find potential matches. You can click on the review box to review and confirm the information prior to completing the connection.
If you think your vendor might use Bill.com but they didn’t show up as a recommendation, you can run a search using a key word and refine it by adding their zip code. Once you find them in the Network listing, click their name to review and then click on the Connect button to indicate how you want to connect: either link to an existing vendor on your list or create a new vendor. Once the connection invitation is accepted, your vendor will automatically begin receiving ePayments.
The Network, over 1 million strong, is comprised of companies that have a paid subscription as well as those that use the free account to get paid. One of the great features of the free account is that your vendor has the ability to create and send e-invoices directly to your Bill.com inbox. This is a terrific feature for those who deal with subcontractors or handymen who do not have a formal invoicing system. It ensures that you receive an invoice with all the required details you need to process and remit payment.
Companies in the Bill.com Network range in size from major corporations – such as Facebook and LinkedIn – to sole proprietors, so it is worth searching the network regardless of business size.
Searching the Directory
In addition to the Network, Bill.com has a directory of over 6,000 major billers throughout the United States. These are the companies we have an account number with and from which we receive statements at regular intervals. Here are some examples of the types of companies found when you search the directory for matches:
- Financial institutions (i.e. banks, credit card companies and mortgage lenders)
- Utility companies (i.e. gas, electric, communications and cable/broadband)
- Insurance companies
You can connect directly with these vendors from their Vendor Details screen. A banner will be displayed above the Vendor Details box alerting you of potential matches. When you click the Review & Connect Now link, Bill.com returns potential matches to your existing vendor. It’s important to understand that Bill.com will only suggest matches for vendors that include a complete account number in the vendor details. Payments made to vendors linked by the Directory are automatically credited to the account number indicated during the setup. For this reason, if you have multiple accounts with the vendor it will be necessary to set up a separate vendor for each account number. For easy identification, you can add the last 4 digits of the account number to the end of the vendor name.
Sending Email Invites
This method of ePayment setup is usually best suited for vendors with which you have an ongoing relationship. They may be local companies, professionals, contractors or even employees to whom you pay expense reimbursements. Chances are pretty slim that AT&T or even a regional distributor is going to accept a Bill.com email invite. Even if you had an email address for their A/R Department, they most likely follow a standard procedure for receiving payments and are not able to deviate from it to accommodate a single customer.
In the past, many Bill.com users did not see great success with this method but with recent improvements to the default email template the adoption rate has become much higher.
To send an invitation to an existing vendor, click on the Set Up Payments button in the vendor details screen. You will have the option to review and edit the email message before sending. There is also the option to select a different sender from which the invitation will be emailed. Choosing a user that the vendor may be more familiar with will increase the chances of acceptance.
Here are a few other tips to help increase your vendor ePayment adoption:
- Invite yourself – Set yourself up as a vendor (use a different email address), then send and accept the invite so that you understand the experience. If a vendor calls with questions or needs help, you will better prepared to assist.
- Provide advance notice – If you know you have a valid email address for the vendor, send a message in advance introducing your new A/P process. Let them know they will soon be receiving an invitation to get paid electronically. This is also an opportunity to include your Bill.com inbox email address and fax number, along with a request that they send bills directly to your inbox. Remember to let your vendors know that this new process will not only benefit you, but them as well.
- Branding – If you add your company logo to your Bill.com account (Settings > Overview > Your Company > Logo), the logo will appear at the top of the email invitations.
- Customize the invitation email – I would not recommend a complete rewrite, but sometimes a personal message can make all the difference. This can be done either at the global level, by changing the default invite, or on a vendor-by-vendor basis.
Adding Their Bank Information Manually
If for some reason all other methods fail (or you are just a control freak), there is still the option of entering your vendor bank account information manually. There are, however, several disadvantages to this method.
- Waiting period – Bill.com sends a test payment to the vendor bank account. It is recommended, but not required, that you confirm with your vendor that the payment was received. There is a required 2-day waiting period before you can confirm the vendor for ePayments, so this is not a good option if you need to get payment out quickly.
- No vendor access to free account – Because you set up the account on your own, the vendor will not have access to the free account. This means they will not have access to send you e-invoices or manage their bank account details on their own. In the event they change banks or open a new account they will need to contact you to request that you update their information. In my experience, most vendors do not remember to do this until an expected payment is not received, which creates more work on your end and delayed payments for them.
If your Bill.com Network Profile, shown in figure 4, is set to Public, an invitation to get paid via ePayments will be printed on the check stub for all checks you send from Bill.com. Each message contains a URL that is unique to that vendor. Making sure your Network Profile is public so that the message is displayed on the check stub can provide vendors with a greater sense of security, so they’ll be more likely to sign up for the service.
It’s Worth the Effort
As the balance shifts from checks to ePayments you will begin to see your Bill.com monthly fees start to decrease. In addition, you will notice that you spend less time dealing with payment exceptions such as returned, lost or uncashed checks. By investing a little bit of time on the front end you will save both time and money in the long run.
Updated and republished with permission from The Sleeter Group’s Blog Accountex Report