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Meet the UK small businesses who have cracked the productivity problem

Fast-growth start-ups including YourParkingSpace and VIA have transformed their businesses using automated Direct Debit. Find out how your small business can do the same

The pressure of running a small business means that there's often not enough time in the day to get everything done.

Daily admin such as chasing down invoices, sending emails and dealing with paperwork can come at a cost – a cost on time and resources that your business could do without.

This productivity problem is felt by entrepreneurs up and down the country with recent research highlighting how 26% of businesses spend at least two to five days each month chasing invoices, while 10%  waste a staggering six to 10 days every month chasing up payments from clients.

But what if there was another way? A way that could ultimately make your business more efficient and productive – so much so that you could gain back one day a week to spend on growing your business instead?

The answer lies in automation. And, with cashflow issues rife among start-ups and small businesses, automated payments processes in particular.

To show you how to crack your business productivity problems, we've rounded up three fast-growth start-ups who have done just that; using automated Direct Debit through GoCardless to improve their cashflow, customer and client relationships…

How YourParkingSpace provides better customer service thanks to automation

YourParkingSpace is one business which has benefited greatly from automating many of its business processes.

The London-based start-up is an online parking marketplace which enables users to rent parking spaces, driveways or garages, or to make money by renting out those same spaces.

With over 250,000 parking spaces available to book hourly, daily and weekly across the UK, the business has a huge number of potential customers to deal with and hefty amounts of payments to process.

Charles Cridland, technical director and co-founder of YourParkingSpace, explains how automation transformed his business:“We were previously using a traditional Direct Debit provider.

“As we grew, the administrative burden was becoming excessive, the time taken submitting CSV documents each month and reconciling payments was incredibly time consuming. GoCardless streamlined this, with the added bonus of having very competitive pricing.”

Additionally, the time saved has allowed Cridland's team to spend more time with customers and provide better responses and assistance:

“The consequence of stretched customer service teams is inevitably unhappy customers, which is why our goal is to streamline every possible area of the business that we can, freeing up the customer service team’s time to go above and beyond when assisting customers.”

And it wasn’t a complicated process, explains Cridland: “There’s always the requirement to contact all the customers about the switch-over and respond to the questions that then come in, but GoCardless couldn’t have been more helpful throughout with guiding us through the process”.

How Norwich Residential Management solved problem clients with  automated Direct Debit

25-strong Norwich Residential Management (NRM) is an organisation that manages residential developments and estates across East Anglia, looking after communal services such as maintenance and cleaning for residents, and sustainable drainage for public open spaces.

Responsible for more than 6,000 units across 100 developments and collecting more than £5m in service charges and ground rent annually, it’s not hard to see why the company introduced automated processes – especially for payments.

Guy Hudson, the owner of NRM, commented: “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.”

Since automating their payments systems Hudson asserts that “previous problem clients are no longer an issue and payments stream in every month.

“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 Hudson.

“Now, errors don’t happen and we have been able to redeploy members of staff to add value in other areas.

“We've cut down admin time and payment errors, and now successfully collect payments easily and securely with the Direct Debit guarantee.”

How automation helped VIA take control of its cashflow

VIA is a hosted Skype for Business platform for both large and small organisations.

It works on a subscription model, collecting payments by invoice every month in the range of £20 to £15,000.

It used to collect payments by Bacs transfers, but as the company got bigger and bigger the administrative burden of this method became too great for its 15 staff.

Iain Worthington, VIA’s finance director, explains: “Many customers paid on time but a subset would always require cajoling, so we began to look for an automated solution.”

The team first approached their bank directly. “The bank made it difficult for us to proceed,” explains Iain. “Then we found GoCardless.” VIA claims to now save one day a month using GoCardless, with 65% of its customers paying using Direct Debit.

And it’s had a big impact on cashflow:

“VIA’s debtor days have halved. Our debtor days are around eight to nine which is low for a business like ours – if you’re providing 30 days of credit, having debtor days of nine is very good.”