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Unlocking the Potential of WMS Billing Strategies

Operations of all sizes search for ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies. And nowadays, with rising costs, fluctuating inventory levels, and customer turnover, 3PLs are asking themselves whether they are accidentally leaving money on the table or missing any opportunities for generating additional revenue. One critical point in the process to investigate is an operation’s 3PL billing software capabilities and practices. 

In a recent IWLA Webinar, Maximize Your Revenue: Unlocking the Potential of WMS Billing Strategies, Errol Gonzales, Account Executive with Made4net, and Jamie Stancyk,  Director of Account Management Services with Made4net discussed what 3PLs should have when it comes to WMS billing capabilities and processes. Read the article below for the main takeaways, or watch a recording here.

Know Your System’s Capabilities and Billing Methods:
The first step in maximizing revenue starts with understanding what your system can and cannot do with billing. Start by examining whether your system can bill by different units of measure (UOM) such as eaches, cases, or pallets. Just as important is knowing what your system cannot do, like accepting faxed or emailed documentation, for example. Once you know your system’s capabilities, you will have the necessary information to set up automation that works well within your parameters. You can utilize different billing methods like units of measure, task activity, or time-based. Flexibility is key here, your decision will likely depend on the customer you’re serving. 

Setting up a catch-all for situations outside standard billing methods is also important. This may include billing hourly rates for services not outlined in the contract; project-based fees for complex projects that fall outside the usual scope; cost-plus billing where required resources weren’t determined ahead of time; and custom billing solutions for customers that don’t fit neatly into a single category.

Automate Charges:
Capturing charges as close to the activity as possible, or in real-time, is the simplest way 3PLs can ensure money isn’t falling through the cracks. This will help ensure accuracy because determining what service or goods were provided days later may be challenging. Memory is fallible, so automating the process is best when it comes to billing. 

Streamline the Onboarding Process:
The more seamlessly you can onboard a new customer into your system, the more satisfied your customer will be, and the quicker you’ll get paid, too. Once you have a certain number of accounts set up into your WMS system, it’s easy to use those as a base to make future onboarding a breeze. Cloning existing account setups means less manual input and more time for focusing on your new customer’s needs.

You can also use a WMS to configure different rates and terms for customers and items, ensuring every customer is billed appropriately. Take advantage of the onboarding period to establish different renewal schedules based on the contract cycle. Every customer will have different needs, so you want to account for that whenever possible. This is a simple step that shows clients you’re attentive to their needs, and reassures them that they are not receiving a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Engage in Continuous Communication:
Facilitating open lines of communication between sales, operations, warehouse staff, and accounting will ensure all team members are on the same page at all times. Communicating is more than keeping team members appraised of where an order stands, it involves:

  • Data sharing: Ensure all departments have access to relevant billing data, including customer contracts, service rates, and activity logs. Transparency helps identify potential discrepancies and facilitate collaboration.
  • Problem-solving: Encourage open communication about billing challenges and errors. Collaborative problem-solving can lead to faster resolution and improved processes.
  • Proactive updates: Inform all departments about any billing policies changes, rates, or procedures. This helps everyone stay informed and avoid confusion. 

Communication should not be limited to internal teams only. Regular communication with customers is just as imperative, especially when it comes to contract interpretation and expectations, this builds trust and strengthens relationships. 

  • Contract clarity: Ensure contracts define billing terms and conditions, including rates, charges, and payment schedules. Open communication during contract negotiations can minimize misunderstandings and disputes.
  • Early notification: Inform customers about upcoming invoices and any changes to their billing statements. This allows them to prepare for payment and identify any potential issues early on.
  • Proactive resolution: Address customer concerns promptly and professionally. This demonstrates responsiveness and prioritizes customer satisfaction.

Minimize Human Input and Errors:
As much as we hate to admit it, humans make mistakes, and when it comes to billing data, those errors can be costly. A WMS will allow 3PLs to automate billing functions to eliminate human error. Reduce manual data entry wherever possible and leverage system capabilities for accuracy and efficiency. Your bottom line will thank you.

Enhance Customer Service:
Making the most of WMS billing strategies is an excellent way to protect your revenue stream. But that’s not all, it can also empower you to provide your customers with better service offerings too, including:

  • Increased use of value-added services
  • Growth of e-commerce fulfillment
  • Tiered and aged renewal storage billing
  • Peak storage billing

Conclusion:

The benefits of implementing these WMS billing capabilities and best practice processes extend beyond the financial, they help improve accuracy and efficiency, reduce costs and errors, increase customer satisfaction, and lead to faster payment cycles. Automating functions, billing, and the tasks associated with charges will minimize the areas of lost revenue. This is how you can turn your contracts into cash, and fast. For more information, watch a recording of the webinar. Or if you have any questions, we are always here to help, simply reach out