Monday, 1 August 2016

As Long as The Price Is Right

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With the gradual move to Universal Credit, we are keen in the sector for all types of payments. Cash is king in some places once again. I was talking to a contact in a handy location near a supermarket and a community library. Cash payments have multiplied for them, providing tenants manage to give the bookies a body swerve, between the supermarket cash machine and their cash office.

A lot of RSLs and Housing Groups I work with, are also dabbling with card payments out in the field, using iZettles and the like, as well as Paypal. I have heard rumours that the 'Rent Collector' might be coming back. I better dust off my 'Gilbert Strip' notes...

However, how much does this all cost?

I was in a demo of a finance system last week and that precise question was asked. Exactly what does all our payment methods cost, which are good value and ones of less value? Are we factoring in the costs of card machines and online portals correctly into our management of income collection?

If we use Paypoint or Allpay, we probably know that x pence per transaction will be our cost, as with Direct Debits. In terms of internet self-service portals, are we attributing the technology costs correctly to those payments? It might cost £40k to set up our online portal, maybe 1/5th of that could be attributed to getting online payments. If we receive 1000 online payments in year one, possibly each may have cost us £8 each.  If we managed to increase that by a factor of 5, over 5 years, we will have reduced our costs to more like 32p per payment, with each extra one becoming cheaper. On that calculation, also factor in your annual maintenance for your self-service.

So, as illustrated above, costs change over time. They may even be dependent on staff FTE and head count. To calculate costs accurately, not getting too anal about the metrics, we do need to take into account how much time these staff spend on each transaction, like we know the cost of a CRM call.

Until we have visibility of those costs, we will find difficulty in directing efficiencies around our payments and help nudge our customers to better, cheaper and more convenient ways to pay. It's better to know, how well do you understand yours?

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Related Post: Get your tenants plumbing. No, Seriously.... ? 


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Dr Feelgood - As Long as The Price Is RightDr Feelgood - As Long as The Price Is Right.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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