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Melio’s efficiency-boosting features: A comprehensive guide for SMBs

A florist using a laptop to pay multiple bills at once.
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In this day and age, every small business owner wears many hats and is in charge of many tasks. Thus, one of the most important things in the success of the business is the ability of the business owner to be productive. Alas, it’s not always easy to maintain a certain level of efficiency. You may have a to-do list that’s been set weeks in advance, yet when the moment of truth comes, you find yourself dealing with unexpected issues that need your full attention.

But worry not, there are ways to boost efficiency on a daily and monthly basis so that tedious tasks won’t take up too much of your time, leaving room to deal with the things that really matter. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the things you can do to boost your efficiency—in general, and especially in the bill payBill payBill pay refers to the process of paying bills, such as rent, utilities, or credit card payments, through an online or mobile payment service. process.

Part 1: Why efficiency is so important

When we discuss improving business and payment efficiency, what we need to ask is how well a company produces goods and services compared to the time and resources it invests. Efficient businesses skillfully manage their resources—such as labor, materials, and capital—to create profitable offerings. Conversely, disorganized operations often result in slower processes, leading to wasted time and money that ultimately affect the company’s overall profit.

Implementing standard efficiency measurements and adopting strategies to refine operational effectiveness can substantially minimize waste across your business. This typically leads to increased profits, a more content and productive workforce, and heightened customer satisfaction.

Businesses consistently strive to trim expenses while boosting revenue streams. Key among these efforts are two primary objectives: increasing production without inflating costs and enhancing productivity.

Business owners can become deeply entrenched in day-to-day responsibilities, sometimes overlooking the need to refine larger operational processes. For instance, a seemingly minor delay in fulfilling a customer order due to an inefficient system might not immediately appear problematic.

However, when these delays accumulate, especially during periods of high demand, they can create bottlenecks. Even if the company continues to make sales and fulfill orders, persistent delays can ruin customer satisfaction, potentially driving customers toward competitors.

Even when a business seems to be running smoothly, there’s often room for enhancement. As technologies advance, new employees join the team, or supplier terms evolve, businesses can identify areas within their operations ready for improvement.

External factors, such as environmental repercussions from ineffective waste management or challenges in attracting employees in a competitive job market, may also prompt operational adjustments.

The ROI of saving time

As the owner of a small or medium-sized business (SMB), you often don’t have a team and you have to be everything at once: your company’s bookkeeper, social media manager, marketing expert, and customer service representative. All of which takes time. And a lot of it. Imagine what you could achieve if you were able to reclaim some time from working on these tasks. 

Saving a few minutes on each task every week can add up to hours each month, freeing you to focus on your craft—or even enjoy some free time

The concept of ROI (Return on Investment) serves as a crucial measure in assessing the effectiveness of a particular investment, whether it involves money, time, or any other resource. This metric enables comparisons between different investments, shedding light on their worth and impact.

To calculate ROI, you divide the benefit gained from the investment by its cost. When tasks are completed more efficiently, maintaining the benefit while reducing the cost, the return on each task improves.

ROI = benefit gained from investment / cost 

This surplus time can be allocated to strategic business growth, exploring avenues to enhance revenue. It also offers an opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers and vendors, potentially leading to increased sales and more favorable deals. Thus, each saved hour can significantly influence the overall profitability of your business.

An efficient back office is key to SMB Success

One of the easiest ways to save time is by using digital tools to manage your back-office tasks. Using accounting software to manage your books and an online bill pay solution to manage vendor payments can save you several hours each month, which can be tremendous. 

Cloud-based accounting software allows detailed tracking and instant analysis of financial transactions. It saves time by reducing manual errors as it captures information directly from the source (for example your bank account or bill pay tool). It also prevents data loss due to missing documents. 

Many business owners still manage their accounts payable (AP) manually. This includes bringing stacks of papers (such as invoices) to the proper desks. Waiting days or even weeks for the right people to sign off on these papers. It can be tedious and highly inefficient. 

AP software makes it possible to streamline the entire approval process. In addition, saving time on actually paying vendors, no need to handwrite checks, and doing everything in a few clicks—all of that helps keep the AP process seamless, speeds up payment processing, and improves business relationships.

Part 2: How to improve your efficiency with Melio

Melio is the simplest payment solution for small businesses. It offers multiple tools that can help you and your team save time by paying all of your monthly bills quickly. Below are our main tips to shorten the time you spend in the back office, managing your AP.

Do multiple actions at once

Except for those in the accounting and bookkeeping field, most SMBs don’t find themselves dealing with outgoing payments on a daily basis. Although this might seem inconsequential, our brains aren’t wired for swift transitions between various tasks. Each shift in focus often consumes a significant amount of time, and for small business owners, time is a precious and limited resource.

To streamline this process, it’s beneficial to organize specific days, such as the first and 15th of each month, dedicated solely to handling all outgoing payments at once.

However, managing multiple invoices can become a repetitive task. But with Melio, you can select multiple bills and pay them at once, in a few clicks. You can also mark bills as paid, approve or decline, and delete multiple bills at once. All you have to do is select the bills you want to work on, and continue to schedule or any other action. That way, you can do all your monthly bills in one short sitting.

Combine bills to the same vendor

Combined payment is a capability that simplifies the process of paying multiple bills to the same vendor. This allows you to select multiple bills intended for a single vendor and pay them all together in a unified transaction. Essentially, your vendor will receive a solitary ACH transfer or a single check encompassing all the bills you’ve combined. Similarly, on your end, these merged bills will display and be accounted for as a singular transaction.

How will this save you time? When you handle numerous small bills from the same vendor through a single payment you can, again, minimize the time you spend on each separate bill. 

Simply select the unpaid bills associated with the same vendor for which you want to schedule a payment. By default, unpaid bills are automatically grouped into a single payment for convenience. For a more comprehensive guide, refer to the complete help center article.

Set up recurring payments

If you’re dealing with recurring payments, such as rent or lease expenses which repeat every month, you probably don’t want to deal with them every single time. But there’s actually a fast way to handle them. Set up automatic payments to vendors you pay the same amount regularly to ensure you never miss a payment. This is once a year or quarter and it’ll save you a lot of time and give you peace of mind.

Create approval workflows

Approval workflows are predefined rules dictating the approval of payments by someone other than the business owner. In simpler terms, these rules govern who within the company needs to review and authorize payments, serving as a structured process for handling invoices.

Business owners can tailor payment approval workflows to balance efficiency and control. These workflows determine who reviews payments, the amounts requiring approval, and the trigger for approval actions—such as invoice addition or readiness for payment.

When deciding on your payment approval workflow, first you need to answer these three questions: 

  • Who? Decide on who should be involved in the process. It can be an office manager, the person in charge of purchasing, your in-house bookkeeper, or an external accountant. 
  • How much? What amounts will I allow each person to approve?
  • When? What type of action will trigger the approval workflow? When an invoice is added or when it’s ready to be paid?
  • Not all payments have to go through the same process. You can decide, for example, that certain purchases (like supplies) will go through your warehouse manager, and office purchases will go through your office manager. 

Approval workflows is another tool that allows business owners to streamline their bill payment processes.

Easily upload bills

Transitioning from manual payments to online bill management is crucial for accurate and prompt invoice handling. But often, you receive your invoices manually, and uploading them one by one to Melio is time-consuming. But there are multiple faster ways to upload bills automatically. 

  1. Scan bills with the Melio app: You can scan paper invoices with the Melio app. The bill details will be taken from the scanned image and you’ll need to fill in any details that are missing. 
  2. Upload multiple bill documents at once: If your invoices are already saved on your computer, you can upload them to Melio. When choosing to upload a bill from a file, you can multi-select as many bills as you need, and the details will appear. 
  3. Sync with accounting software: When you sync with QuickBooks Online, Xero, or other accounting software that works with Melio, every invoice you upload there, will be automatically updated in Melio. 
  4. Email invoices to Melio: You can get invoices sent directly to your Pay inbox. Melio scans and automatically adds your bill for you to review and pay.

All of these methods allow users to save valuable time on manually uploading bills and invoices, plus reduce the chances for errors which can save you a lot of back and forth.

Pay without a bill

In the world of SMBs, the standard process for handling your AP involves receiving an invoice, adding it to your accounting software, syncing it with your bill pay tool, and then making the payment.

The usual process of bill pay for small businesses.

But what if your vendor wants to attach a receipt to your delivery, and will send the supply only after you pay. Or what if there’s a pile of bills on your desk and your vendor is on the phone, asking you to pay now. Luckily, you don’t have to add a bill or invoice to pay a vendor through Melio. Enter the amount owed, and pay. Easily pay without a bill on your phone or desktop.

Boost your efficiency with Melio

Being a small business owner, your productivity has a huge impact on the success of your business and ultimately on your revenue and profit. But looking to become more efficient can quickly become something you add to the list of “things to do,” adding stress instead of clearing up time.

But by looking at it as shortening the time it takes to do your usual process, you can actually start saving small chunks of time that add up throughout the month. By doing your bill pay through Melio, you can take advantage of multiple features that make the entire process quicker and more efficient, clearing up time for other aspects of your business that require your attention.

*This guide is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice, and you should consult with a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.