Advantage Services is a business software reseller and a Sage Platinum Business Partner of the Year, based in the Midlands. They’ve partnered with Sage, Exact, Act! and Zoho to provide software for a variety of business needs, as well as offering training, support, consultancy and software development services to their customers.
We sat down with Michael Allan, from their finance team, and marketing coordinator Neelam Nazir, to find out how GoCardless has allowed them to embrace Direct Debit as a payment solution for customers, and has helped make their financial admin far more efficient.
Helping customers build their perfect business software system
Advantage Services works with a cross-section of customers to supply the software tools they need to get that extra element of efficiency out of their business systems.
As Michael points out, selling the main finance and accounting software is their core business, but support services are also a big part of the mix. “We’re a reseller for Sage, Exact, Act! and Zoho, but we also offer some great support and training services as well.”
And, as Neelam explains, the company also works with their business clients on a consultancy basis to find the right bespoke apps and custom tools for their particular needs or industry requirements.
“We also do a lot of add-ons and software development, so we have a team of in-house developers. So if a customer requires additional functionality from their software, we can customise things or build a new product so they can use the software more efficiently.”
Using the best payment option for the job
When it came to longer support and development contracts, where there’s a yearly fee to pay, Advantage Services knew they needed to offer a Direct Debit option to customers – helping to split the total cost across the year for the client.
Giving customers the ability to pay a monthly invoice, rather than a lump sum, was a key selling point for the business, according to Michael:
“If someone’s on the support or development service, they can pay that over 12 months as a fixed contract. Customers want to pay in instalments by Direct Debit, mainly because of the cash flow angle – they’d rather pay over 12 months than up front.
Whether we offer Direct Debit could be a make or break thing for a customer. Offering this allows us to be flexible for our customers.”
And having Direct Debit as part of their payment mix allows them to offer the right payment option for the right customer. With long-term customer contracts, GoCardless automatically takes care of the monthly payments, whereas with one-off software purchases it’s better for the business to be paid at the time of purchase, as Neelam explains:
“When we have software and training invoices to pay, we prefer to be paid up front for those, and we use SagePay for that, or just bank transfers. We also use SagePay for our online orders and if we’re taking payment for one-off orders etc.”
How GoCardless has streamlined monthly payments
So, with GoCardless taking care of monthly cash collection, how has this helped Michael and the rest of the finance team to streamline and automate their financial admin tasks?
“For the finance team, the main reason we moved to GoCardless was because of the integration with Sage50 and the way it automatically updates Sage and pulls the Direct Debit transactions in.
The automatic reconciliation is what’s so great about GoCardless and saves us so much time.
It’s very reliable: I know it will take the money, and it will let me know if it can’t take the money for any reason too.”
“Direct Debit is very useful for renewals too – customers don’t have to put too much effort in. With GoCardless, customers can just say yes to the renewal and it will take the next lot of payments.”
Michael is also a big fan of the automation angle of GoCardless, allowing the finance team to set up 12 monthly invoices and then let the software do all the rest of the work.
“If I have payments that are for a few months in the future, it’s possible I’ll forget about that. But with GoCardless I can set the payments up for three months down the line and then forget about it – I know it will automatically take that money on the due dates.”
GoCardless: the standard for anyone working in accounts
With a steady flow of monthly payments coming into the business for their support and development work, Advantage Services can be confident about their cash flow position. And the automatic cash collection and reconciliation functions of GoCardless make it easier for Michael and the rest of the finance function to get their financial admin done and dusted.
“The key benefit of GoCardless for us is that it updates Sage50 automatically, which saves a lot of manual time and means we don’t have to update our accounts program.”
“And if payment options ever comes up as a question on the phone, we do recommend GoCardless to customers. I’m so used to using GoCardless for Direct Debit, that I feel it’s the standard now for anyone who works in accounts.”