When it comes to streamlining how you collect regular payments, Direct Debit is hard to beat for simplicity.
But while you’re delving deeper into the world of Direct Debit management, you’ll probably come across some terminology that’s unfamiliar to you.
Phrases like ‘facility management bureau’, ‘service user number’ and ‘Bacs-approved’ may not feature in your current business vocabulary.
But once you’ve decided to access the power of Direct Debit, you’ll quickly get to grips with the lingo and realise it’s not at all complicated.
Here we’re going to focus on what a facility management bureau is and explore the differences between the two main Direct Debit management services available.
How to Access Direct Debit
Before the advent of Direct Debit bureau, the only way for businesses to incorporate Direct Debit into their accounting systems was via their bank.
Today this remains a difficult arrangement to secure for all but the very biggest players. It requires a complex sponsorship application process, along with ongoing staff training needs and expensive software updates.
These hurdles used to mean that unless you were a large corporation with turnover in the millions, the doors to the transformational benefits of Direct Debit were closed.
Now they’re open to all: sole traders, partnerships, limited companies, SMEs, charities and any other organisation that needs to collect regular payments from customers.
For your office equipment leasing business, it’s the perfect solution for keeping control over clients’ monthly fees whether they need a single photocopier or multiple desks.
Direct Debit bureaux have made this possible. Put simply, they do everything so you don’t have to.
What Services Do a Facility Management Bureau Offer?
Choose a Direct Debit bureau like FastPay and you’ll be reassured that they’re qualified and accredited to manage a scheme on your behalf.
They’ve done the training, got the software and have the experience to make introducing Direct Debit to your business easy, secure and reliable.
Every bureau has to be approved by Bacs, the organisation that oversees all Direct Debits, and approved by a sponsoring bank. Once they’ve ticked these two boxes, they have to be vetted every three years to ensure they’re maintaining standards.
Typically, a bureau will offer two distinct types of service: facilities management and commercial. At FastPay, these are called their Managed Service and Bureau Service respectively.
What Is A Managed Service?
The FastPay Managed Service is perfect for smaller businesses who need to collect regular payments. Recurring fees, such as those charged by your office equipment leasing company, along with service charges, rents and donations can all be managed reliably.
It’s ideal for businesses that want to get up and running quickly without getting bank approval, enjoy low fees and set-up costs, and can’t access their own service user number (SUN).
SUNs are another member of the Direct Debit dictionary. They’re a unique number allocated to a business as a form of ID to record all corresponding transactions, vital to the overall system of Direct Debit management.
If your business is large enough to obtain an SUN from your bank, you can then choose to either manage a Direct Debit scheme through them or opt for a commercial bureau service.
For smaller businesses, the only option is to get an SUN from a bureau. FastPay use unique SUNs for each Managed Service client, meaning that your business’ name and logo, rather than the impersonal name of your bureau, will appear on all documents. They can also personalise your paperwork to consistently reflect your brand.
And the personal approach doesn’t stop there. You’ll receive exceptional customer service to guide you through the process every step of the way.
How Does It Work?
Sign up to FastPay and you’ll be given your own personalised SUN number. You then ask your customers to complete a Direct Debit instruction form online, over the phone or on a paper mandate.
If you’re unsure what details you need to get, FastPay can provide branded templates and scripts to make the job even easier.
Then simply send those account details, the amounts you wish to debit from your customers and the nominated collection date to FastPay. They’ll take care of the rest.
They’ll prepare and submit everything to Bacs for collection and your customer’s account will be debited. The money is then credited to a Client Trust Account held in your name before being paid into your account once the funds have cleared.
Then all you need to do is check your account and be instantly reassured that payments have been made successfully.
Once in possession of your SUN you’ll be able to start the collection process straightaway. With FastPay, you can be up and running within just 24 hours of signing up.
What Is A Bureau Service?
The FastPay Bureau Service is for corporate businesses who can obtain their own SUN from their bank.
Bureau clients receive their funds quicker than via a Managed Service as they’re directly transferred from customers’ accounts to yours without sitting in a client trust account until they are cleared.
It’s also more economical to outsource your Direct Debit management to a bureau compared to completing the work in-house.
Fees start from as little as 3p per collection when you sign up to FastPay’s Bureau Service, with no minimum monthly or annual fees and no long-term contract. It’s an affordable option that avoids the initial outlay and ongoing training and upgrade fees for Bacs-approved software.
And it will free your accounts team from the admin and time burden of processing numerous payments: time that can be better spent on building customer relationships and developing new skills.
How Does It Work?
First, you need to apply for an SUN from your bank after which they’ll link it to your bureau number.
Next, simply collect your Direct Debit instructions using branded templates and documentation and forward all the information to FastPay. They’ll then prepare and submit all your Bacs AUDDIS collection and payment files with instructions to process them on your preferred date.
Bacs will then directly transfer Direct Debit collections from your customer’s bank account into your business account on the same day.
In exchange for minimum input, you’ll see the correct amount arrive on the expected day. Peace of mind, convenience and cashflow reassurance for you and your business.
What’s Included In Both Services?
Now you know the differences between the services offered by a facility management bureau, what about their similarities?
Both FastPay’s Managed and Bureau Service offer the same time-saving, professional features:
Simple sign-up for customers
Fully integrated, professionally-designed and Bacs-approved paperless sign-up pages if you want to accept Direct Debit instructions online. Or, guidance notes and a Bacs-approved script if you prefer to take instructions over the phone. Even old-fashioned paper mandates can be branded with your name and logo.
FastPay’s leading-edge software is always up-to-date with Bacs and banking legislation. It can be fully integrated into your accounting systems using a bespoke API or via Xero and Sage to boost efficiency and simplify processes.
A comprehensive online dashboard provides impressive functionality in the office and on the go, including a real-time overview of your account status to save time and reduce reconciliation tasks.
A key element of Direct Debit management is the regular reports sent to all users detailing all payments and non-payments.
This helpful information will land in your inbox each day, allowing you to deal with issues such as bounces and cancellations swiftly and professionally.
Analysing and acting upon this data will become the norm instead of spending time chasing late payments.
Transparent pricing structure
With FastPay, there are no hidden costs. You’ll pay a set-up fee and are then signed up to a flexible pay as you go system with no monthly or annual fees. You’ll also be able to take advantage of volume discounts and free phone and email support from friendly, knowledgeable experts.
Whichever route you take towards accepting Direct Debit for recurring payments, you’ll enjoy numerous business-boosting benefits.
Because you can set the most convenient collection dates for your business, your cashflow becomes assured. No more waiting around for cheques in the post or a client call to pay with their credit card, instead money will arrive in your account on the day you expect.
Your accounts team will spend significantly less time chasing late payments and manually reconciling fees paid by a combination of Standing Orders, cheques and cards. While they’re spared awkward client conversations about outstanding invoices, they can concentrate on providing an even better service.
Your customers will thank you for offering them the convenience, flexibility and security of paying by Direct Debit. They’ll be able to relax and enjoy your service knowing that the payment is taken care of, bolstering your reputation as a helpful company who respects their time.
Choose Direct Debit via a facility management bureau and you’ll soon be reaping the rewards: improved cashflow, increased growth, happy staff and satisfied clients.