Starting a round-up program?

I’m not sure where ideas for this newsletter would originate were it not for the listservs I belong to! This week, it was a question about starting a round-up program to assist customers who have difficulty paying their bills.

Since I wrote a round-up routine for a billing program (many years ago!) and I’ve worked with utilities who implemented such a program, I had a few insights.

What is a round-up program?

Round-up programs allow your customers to sign up to have their bills rounded up to the next whole dollar. The amount of the round-up then goes into a fund to assist customers having difficulty paying their bills. This is similar to what some grocery stores offer with the round-up going to the local food bank or other non-profits.

Does your software support it?

If you are considering offering a round-up program, your first step should be to inquire if your billing software supports it. Without your billing software automatically calculating the round-up amount, implementing this would be practically impossible.

Additional contributions

if you decide to offer a round-up program, I would encourage you to also set up a voluntary, non-metered service so customers can also contribute an additional fixed amount. Some portion of your customers who sign up for the round-up program will also want to be able to contribute a few additional dollars each month.

Who administers the program?

Finally, if you do decide to start any kind of program to assist customers who are unable to pay, I would advise you to partner with social services or a non-profit in your community that already administers assistance payments. This relieves your staff from being in the uncomfortable position of deciding who gets assistance and who doesn’t. It also avoids any accusations of playing favorites with your customers.

Implementing a new program?

Are you considering offering a round-up program or implementing some other new program? If so, please give me a call at 919-673-4050, or email me at to learn more about how a business review could assist you in the process.

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© 2024 Gary Sanders


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