Cycle billing – should we or shouldn’t we…?
Has your utility grown to the point where you’re wondering if you should move from billing all your customers at one time to cycle billing?
Traditionally, utilities have made the move to cycle billing for one of three reasons. Let’s examine each of these reasons…
More balanced workload
Perhaps the most common reason for moving to cycle billing is an attempt to balance the office and staff workload.
Does your office get slammed with customers coming in to pay on the due date and cut-off date? If you’ve done all you can to reduce walk-in payments and the number of customers in your lobby on the due date is more than your office can manage, it’s probably time to consider cycle billing.
Billing twice a month, as compared to once a month, means half the volume on each due date and half the cut-offs on cut-off day. This is extremely helpful for smaller utilities with limited field staff to perform cut-offs and reconnects.
Length of time it takes to read meters
Another frequent reason for moving to cycle billing is the number of days it takes to read meters. In an attempt to minimize the days of exposure, many utilities have realized that billing more frequently than once a month makes sense.
However, as automated meter reading systems become increasingly popular, and more meters can be read in less time, this makes a less compelling case for cycle billing.
Improved cash flow
The third reason for moving to cycle billing is improved cash flow. The more frequently you bill, the more spread out your influx of cash will be.
This is especially true for utilities that bill less frequently than monthly. For example, utilities that bill bi-monthly often bill half their customers one month and the other half the next month. This provides a steadier cash flow from month to month.