02/10/2020 DENVER, CO
Automated billing is one of Scout’s flagship features. As successful as it’s been saving people time and improving cash flow, there was room for improvement. We hope our most recent update will provide more flexibility and improved user experience overall. In addition to the flashy features, which we’ll talk more about below, we’ve also implemented an infrastructure that will allow us to build more robust automation into upcoming releases.
How Automated Billing Works
Returning customers feel free to read-on or skip to the next section. If you’re new to Scout, here is a basic run-through of how our automated billing works. We’ll add some links at the bottom of the article so you can take a more detailed look. The description below includes the updates we’ve made.
1. Choose a billing frequency.
Scout’s automated billing keeps pet service businesses organized and improves cash flow by operating on a predictable cycle. You have the option to bill for services weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
2. Start Appointments from the App.
The day your billing period starts blank invoices are generated for all customers. As you and/or your staff check into appointments using the app, transactions are created and added to the pet parent’s invoice. You can review and edit invoices as needed throughout the billing period.
3. Review Your Invoices.
Invoices are held for 24 hours after your billing period ends. This gives administrators a chance to review invoices once all the appointments for the billing period have been checked-in.
5. Get Paid.
At the end of the 24-hour review period, account credits and prepayments are applied to the invoice balance. Next, credit cards are processed and the invoices are closed automatically. Pet parents receive a detailed receipt so they know exactly what they’ve paid for. When you accept credit cards, payments are totally hands-free so you don’t have to wait for someone to “remember” to pay you.
If you choose to accept cash, check or other off system payment methods, an invoice is sent. When payment is received you can manually mark an invoice as paid. At that time Scout will automatically send a receipt to confirm payment was received.
As you can see, Scout’s billing system requires very little manual intervention. Processing payments, sending invoices, and closing billing periods automatically keeps your business well organized, predictable and, most importantly, funded.
What’s New in Billing Part Deux?
Now that you’re familiar with how Scout’s automated billing process works, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the awesome invoicing updates we’ve made.
Real-time invoice updates... No more waiting for Monday to review invoices! Charges are added to invoices as soon as a service is started. View and edit anytime.
Edit invoices with ease... say goodbye to credits and adjustments. Simply add or remove items anytime for a cleaner, more professional-looking invoice. When you add or remove a line item from an invoice you can also add or remove the associated payroll transaction.
Make payroll adjustments from the invoice... keep your reporting accurate. When you remove an invoice line item, you will be prompted to either leave the associated payroll transaction or remove it. When adding an invoice line item, you can now specify if a corresponding payroll transaction should be created.
Issue refunds directly from Scout... no more logging into Braintree to issue a refund! Refund and notify customers easily from their invoice or pre-payment account.
Email and Print invoices... you can send a 2nd copy via email, keep records offline or passive-aggressively leave a copy of the invoice on your clients counter.
As you can see we have a ton of great new features and improvements to the invoicing system, but we didn’t stop there. We’ve also made a lot of improvements to help make managing your customer accounts easier too!
How Has Account Management Improved?
We’ve made some design and functionality changes to the customer profile pages. Now there’s less navigating away from Scout and more flexibility to manage accounts.
Issue account credits... want to reward a customer for a referral? Made an “oopsie” and want to make it right without a refund? Issue an account credit and it’ll automatically be applied to their next invoice.
Edit invoices from the account profile... it’s always been easy to view a pet parent’s entire invoice history in one place, but now you can edit them too. Editing invoices are no longer limited to the billing area of the site.
Remove a Payment Method... you don’t need to leave Scout. You can delete a customer’s payment method without having to log into the Braintree Payments portal.
Override sales tax for a specific customer... do you provide services in multiple locations that charge different sales tax rates? You can now set sales tax on a customer-by-customer basis. There’s also a sales tax report to make your accountant happy.
User experience is something we take seriously. Years of feedback and discussions have allowed us to take a major step forward in functionality and ease of use. This is just the beginning. This update will also lay the foundation for the next year of billing updates. One of the major infrastructure updates we’ve made is the addition of prepaid credits.
What are Prepaid Credits?
Prepaid credits are the first step toward a fully automated and mobile app integrated prepay system. We’ve opted to release this in the form of what’s called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This status is more than a beta, it’s fully functional and tested. We are using this label to encourage feedback with the knowledge we are currently building out additional features like packages, quantity discounts, subscriptions and the ability to send quotes.
How do prepaid credits work?
Prepaid credits work similarly to account credits. When you add prepaid credits to a customer’s account, their payment method is billed immediately. A credit in the amount of the charge is created, and the credits are applied to the customer’s invoice(s) as the services are started. At the end of the billing period, invoices are automatically updated to reflect the credits.
What if the final invoice exceeds the prepaid credit? That’s where the automated invoicing comes in. At the end of the billing period, credits are automatically applied to the invoice and if there is an overage, Scout will bill their payment method for the difference.
We’re really excited to introduce these major upgrades to the Scout system and look forward to your feedback. We have even more billing enhancements coming later this year and if you leave your email address in the chat, we’ll keep you posted as we make progress.