January 19, 2022
‘White Glove’ Utility Billing: The Synergy Difference
If you are a multifamily property owner or manager looking for a utility billing partner, you’ve likely come across quite a few options. It’s no secret that there are many, many read-bill-collect (RBC) providers in the market. In our experience, the vast majority are made up of good, hard-working people – and many provide solid service.
That said, we believe there is a difference between a solid utility billing company and one that truly excels. With that in mind, we believe there is a case to be made for an entirely new category of RBC: what we call a “white glove” provider. This is a partner, an expert consultant, a trust advisor and a service liaison, rolled up into one. And we believe it’s the future of the utility billing space. Here’s why.
What Is a ‘White Glove’ RBC?
Look up “white glove” in Merriam-Webster, and you’ll find a simple definition: “marked by special care or attention.” What, exactly, does that mean in the context of utility billing?
Think about it this way. Whether you’re retrofitting an existing building with new submeters, implementing RUBS or simply seeking a new billing provider, chances are that you need more of two things: NOI and time. Put simply, a white glove provider is one dedicated to providing the care and attention needed to create more of both for you.
At Synergy, we believe the entire utility billing spectrum – from system design and optimization through reading, billing, tenant service and collection – should be absolutely seamless for the owner or manager. In other words, the landlord should be empowered to spend less time making more money.
This all sounds intuitive, but it is actually rather complex to achieve. Care and attention – white glove service – doesn’t just happen. It needs to be deeply engrained in an RBC’s culture, from the widest strategic view down to the most routine day-to-day operations. And we would argue that it extends well beyond just utility expertise.
Hallmarks of a White Glove RBC
At Synergy, we believe that this unique category of utility billing provider can be defined by three core tenets.
There’s a reason this is our first hallmark of a white glove utility billing provider. Great companies are built on trust and honesty – even before expertise. Value-driven organizations are singularly capable of providing the care and attention you need and deserve.
Why? Because to them, serving clients becomes more than just a means to a paycheck. It’s part of a greater commitment – one engrained in the very fiber of the company. An RBC that treats its clients (and even its competitors) the way it would want to be treated is one you want to work with.
From the outside looking in, utility billing and submetering can seem relatively simple. And in fact, the concept is. The execution is something very different.
Providing white glove service – allowing property owners and managers to confidently hand over billing and focus on core competencies – requires a high degree of experience. This is something that only comes with years in the industry. Every property is different. Every type of utility is different. Every state is different. The ability to solve for corner cases doesn’t come from a book – it comes from having done it … again and again and again.
“Out of the box” utility billing solutions can work on some level. RUBS equations, for instance, can be as simple as (Total Cost) / (Units) = (Each Unit’s Bill). Sources of waste (e.g., leaks or inefficient electric usage in common areas) can be ignored and chalked up to the “cost of doing business.” We don’t believe a true white glove provider can accept situations like that. Care and attention needs to be paid to each and every property, with eyes on squeezing out every drop of NOI that can be ethically had. That means going the extra mile to deliver bespoke solutions.
A white glove RBC is built upon trust, honesty and ethics. It deploys submetering and billing solutions based on the needs of the individual owner and property. And – just as important – it follows through.
At the end of the day, a utility billing company’s success comes down to the experience it delivers. That starts with the quoting and sales process – the ability to efficiently unpack and meet the property’s needs. It moves on to system design and deployment. Finally, it’s about reporting, analytics, remittance and tenant service.
From Day 1, someone should always be there on the other end of the phone, whether it’s the property owner or a new renter on the line. Questions should be answered fast and correctly. Issues should be resolved quickly. Every little piece matters, and a true white glove utility billing company understands that.
Conclusion: A New Category
We hope that this piece has not come across like an extended sales pitch. (Though of course, if you’re a multifamily property owner or manager, we’d love to chat.) Instead, we want to lay out a vision for truly exceptional utility billing can be like in 2022 and beyond.
Properties are increasingly complex. Tenants are increasingly sophisticated. And owners and managers are increasingly pulled in 10,000 different directions at once. Handling all that – while maximizing NOI – requires a new type of RBC. A white glove RBC. One that provides the care, attention, values, experience and service that you, your property and your renters deserve.