Norwich Residential Management (NRM) manages residential developments (apartment blocks) and estates in East Anglia, including more than 6000 units across 100 developments.
The business looks after communal services for residents, including maintenance and cleaning, as well as managing sustainable drainage for public open spaces.
Collecting payments via Direct Debit, has allowed NRM to stop repeat non- and late- payers by giving those individuals the option to sign up for Direct Debit and pay monthly or settle in full.
NRM owner, Guy Hudson explains: “Previous problem clients are no longer an issue and payments stream in every month.
“GoCardless cuts down admin time and payment errors, and allows us to successfully collect payments easily and securely with the Direct Debit guarantee.”
More time to spend on the business
Before moving to GoCardless for Sage50 in 2015, NRM accepted payments by cheque, standing order and bank transfer.
With so many customers and a range of payment amounts and frequencies, cash collection was burdensome.
NRM owner, Guy Hudson explains: “Collecting payments was a time-consuming, manual process that lent itself to errors, such as residents giving incorrect references or human error on our side, which we then had to spend time rectifying.
“We no longer have to manually reconcile bank statements on a weekly basis,” says Guy. “We save two days a month just on reconciliation alone. That two days a month used to represent a colleague manually tapping data into a computer - not a very engaging job and it’s easy to make a mistake,” adds Guy. “With GoCardless for Sage50, errors don’t happen and we have been able to redeploy members of staff to add value in other areas.”
Automating NRM’s cash collection with GoCardless has also meant that Guy and team no longer have to rely on customers to make the payment on time - or chase them up if they don’t.
On developments we have managed for more than 18 months, we typically only have to send reminder letters to less than 2% of clients. Before Gocardless this was more than 20%. The time we spend chasing customers for payment has dropped dramatically.”
Easy to set up and manage
With the GoCardless payment app plugged into NRM’s billing system, Sage50, Guy and team can easily set up new payments.
“Setting up a mandate through GoCardless for Sage50 is straightforward - it takes just a few clicks,” says Guy. And once set up, managing payments and reconciling them with your accounts is “all fairly instantaneous,” he adds.
The GoCardless app also notifies Guy and team automatically if a payment has failed or a Direct Debit mandate has been cancelled: “This allows us to deal with any issues quickly. We can contacts clients and discuss in real time.
“Using standing order in the past, we wouldn’t know if a payment had failed until we reconciled payments with the bank - and even then, with so many accounts, you don’t always notice a failed payment.
“From a credit control point of view, GoCardless has been excellent.”
Encouraging customers to move to Direct Debit
NRM clients can still opt to pay an annual payment by cheque or bank transfer, but NRM encourages clients to pay by instalments with Direct Debit.
“When we take on new developments, the lease/TP1 usually says to pay in full once a year. However, we offer residents a payment plan, allowing then to spread payments (typically over 10 months) with Direct Debit via GoCardless.
Ultimately, we save on time and costs with Direct Debit, so we can pass on a saving to clients.”
Taking on new developments can sometimes be a challenge, explains Guy, particularly if the development was not well-managed in the past.
“Sometimes residents will make their dissatisfaction known by not paying. In those cases, we work with them to understand their issues and quickly resolve the backlog of maintenance issues or faults across the development. We also explain that we need funds to complete these works - and if they move to Direct Debit, they can make staged payments each month while they see works being completed.”
In some developments, 80% of the clients now pay by Direct Debit - although, says Guy, it has been harder to move over other developments, particularly those with with a higher population of older residents, “who have grown up paying by cheque”. In most cases, Direct Debit has been well-received, says Guy.
Supporting a growing business
As a growing business with a variety of payment needs, NRM needs a payment solution that can flex to its needs. “We have found that,” says Guy. “GoCardless lets us take payments how and when we want, to suit our business needs.”
Using GoCardless has also allowed Guy to keep overheads low, while scaling the business.
With GoCardless for Sage50 in place and our cash collection automated, we have been been able to avoid hiring additional support staff as our business has grown - and the support staff we already have are happily deployed on more interesting activities!”