Your Virtual Office: Paying Bills

Maybe you had an office for your small business. You kept the office thinking your employees would return after COVID but decided that working remotely is great, so why pay the rent? Or you kept the office for some employees who want to come back, but others would rather work from home.

How do you adjust your business’ financial systems to accommodate the new setup?

I’ll answer that question with a case study.

The case is a small business of five employees plus the owner. They worked in an office pre-COVID with a bookkeeping service visiting weekly to handle financial tasks, including printing checks to pay bills.

All of the employees began working remotely in March of 2020. However, the bookkeeper was still visiting the office to print checks and deliver them to the owner’s home office as he was the only signer on the business’ bank account. This system was a bit cumbersome but viewed as temporary. But temporary became a year on, and the lease on the office space was up for renewal. The only regular user to the office space was the bookkeeper toiling away in solitude. The owner decided not to renew the lease on the office. But what about printing checks?

Enter the online bill pay service. I’m not talking about the bill pay service through the business’ bank. These services don’t provide enough financial controls for a business that has multiple people involved.

The solution for this business was an online service that allows multiple users to access the system for different purposes. The bookkeeper can enter bills and set up recurring payments, but the payments are not distributed until the owner approves them. The payment is directly debited from the business’ bank account and sent via paper check or electronic transfer.

For this business, they chose Melio for their bill pay services. The owner is happy with the new system since the approval process is simple and allows the bookkeeper to continue handling the administrative side of paying bills.

There are other stand-alone online services. The bells and whistles vary with each service, as do the costs. Additionally, some accounting software already includes an online bill pay feature – for example, is offered as part of a QuickBooks Online license.

I would suggest not looking at these services as temporary alternatives. Even if your business decides to move back to an office, these new systems can stay as part of a more flexible, streamlined financial management system.

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