Simplifying Multifamily Utility Billing – Traits to Look for in a Resident Billing Partner
If you have a resident utility billing program in place, you already understand the benefits of recouping your utility expenses by billing back to your residents. You already know the difference between RUBS (Ratio Utility Billing Systems – allocating charges based on a mathematical formula) and submetering. You already know that the regulatory environment is complex. So why would you change billing providers? It all boils down to one core question – how can you make this easier?
Better Resident Bills – Easier to Understand, Easier to Pay
It all starts with the resident experience. Are the bills calculated correctly? Are they delivered in a timely fashion? Can my residents understand the charges, how they were calculated and what they owe? Can my residents easily pay their bill? If the answer to any of those questions is NO, then it is time to consider a change.
Compliance is also a critical factor. Are you billing everything that you can? Ensuring that you are within the regulatory guidelines is essential for your peace of mind. You want to bill as much as you possibly can without ever billing too much. It is an artful game of ‘the price is right’ and you want a partner that is walking side-by-side with you to maximize your return.
Then it moves to flexibility. Do you have access to a variety of billing methods to cover every possible scenario? If your billing provider has you locked into a handful of choices – or too many choices – then administering your program can be time-consuming and exhausting. You want and deserve a provider who understands your environment, your goals, and your residents in a way to offer the best options, specific to your situation.
The next considerations are reliability and clarity. Are the bills accurate, timely and defensible? If you are struggling to explain why charges were calculated a certain way or why the bill arrived late, it is time to entertain options. Your provider should care about every bill they deliver and working towards a zero error target. You also want to make sure that your residents understand each charge on their bill. No confusion, no guess-work. Just a clearly itemized list of charges backed up with the appropriate information.
Finally, you need ease of payment. The best providers are the ones that offer online payments so the resident can receive their bill (electronically) and immediately pay it. Even better if they can set up an automatic payment so they don’t have to take action every month.
Creating a better resident experience can be worth the effort to move to a better partner.
Better Technology – Easier to Approve, Easier to Reconcile
Your staff’s time is money. It is a cliché but it is true. If your current provider has dated technology, then switching can make a real difference in how your team spends their time. What is your current pre-bill process? Can you easily audit what has been calculated and make adjustments on the fly? How about variance reporting? Can you see where usage has fluctuated or charges are materially different month-to-month? If not, it is time to look at options.
Your provider should have state-of-the-art automation around the monthly billing and approval processes. Sophisticated programs that improve exception awareness and handling can literally return hours to your day.
Finally, how is reconciliation handled with your accounting software? Imagine a situation where the resident lists are pulled in, billing is calculated (including consideration for move-ins and move-outs), property charges are added and the whole charge file is automatically uploaded into your accounting software. In this scenario reconciliation becomes a breeze and you can spend your time on more value-added activities for your company.
Better Support – Easier to Manage Residents, Easier to Get Answers
Could there be a scenario where the number of questions you get around resident bills is dramatically reduced and the ones that remain get answered quickly? Does such a support nirvana exist? The answer is yes. Your billing provider should offer a resident call center where your residents can get immediate and knowledgeable help about how their bill was calculated and what information was used to substantiate the charges. And if that billing provider can also take a payment over the phone, even better!
Resident support is one thing but what about support for you and your staff? That can be a dream come true also. Your provider should have an expert staff available to answer questions not only about your bills but also about the integrations with your accounting software. You care about your residents and their experience. Your billing provider should also care about you and your experience.
If all of these things sound too good to be true, then you need to take a hard look at who you are calling a partner. If they aren’t giving you fantastic bills, technology and support, then you should consider RUBbing them out of the picture. We would love to chat with you about how our re-imagined software is revolutionizing the industry and how our customer-driven support model continues to set the standard of excellence when it comes to caring for our property managers and their residents.