Submeter reading and billing, can be a tedious monthly task. Walking around with a clipboard to write down meter readings that then go into a confusing spreadsheet takes valuable time and opens your team up to costly mistakes. But it’s difficult to see a reasonable solution. Replacing all of your meters with networked meters seems like a solution. However, it’s unrealistically costly to do that all at once, especially when so many higher priorities exist for your budget. Even with networked meters, you will still need to manage the billing side of the process. So, how can you make your submeter billback less painful without a total overhaul? Here are a few things to consider as you evaluate your options.
Identify the Easy Wins in Your Tenant Submetering Process
Many steps are involved in manually reading and/or billing your submeters. First, identify the aspects that are the most problematic. For most building teams, the issues causing the most confusion are clipboards and spreadsheets. Handwritten notes are problematic due to illegible handwriting or the recording of incorrect values. Spreadsheets pose problems as they are usually outdated.
By identifying the most troublesome parts of your submetering process, it is easier to determine the most essential changes. Additionally, this will help you evaluate the right vendors or software to improve your process.
Look for a Tenant Submetering Software that Works with Existing Hardware
When it comes to completely overhauling a submeter system, hardware and installation expense quickly add up. Ideally, you want to work with something that supports your existing hardware ecosystem. But you also want your investment to support future hardware (e.g., smart meters).
Identifying a hardware-agnostic solution (i.e., software that does not depend on proprietary hardware to function) will both remove the need for a massive hardware investment and allow you to implement a tool that will work with your changing submeter environment over time.
Don’t Expect Perfection
With a process as involved as submeter reading and billing, there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle. Without committing to a massive and pricey overhaul, you might not eliminate every single friction point in the process. Maybe you still need to physically walk around to get those readings, but the readings are being collected in a software platform that’s more accurate and reliable than your old clipboard.
By focusing on the easy wins you identified up front, you can improve the parts of your process that are most problematic, and compromise on the parts that aren’t deal breakers. This will allow you to implement an impactful solution without an excessive price tag.
Pass the Cost to Your Tenants
Finding room in the budget for new initiatives is tough. So consider if you can pass through the cost of the improvements to your tenants. If you were completely overhauling your submeters, you likely wouldn’t be able to pass that cost through. However, if you use IT dollars when a new tenant moves in to replace their manual meter with a smart meter, you can improve your ecosystem over time without a massive addition to your operating budget. As long as you have a software solution in place that supports mixed environments, this can be a great option.
You can also often pass the cost of submeter reading and billing software to your tenants (i.e., submeter billback). While you cannot profit from selling utilities, in most cases you can charge an administrative fee to tenants for the submeter management. Submeter billback allows you to ensure that the tenants benefiting from the software will bear the cost.
Hopefully these ideas inspire you to assess and improve your submeter reading and billing process. Implementing practical technology in your building can make a significant difference in your operations and free up critical time to focus on other priorities.
If you’d like to learn more about Genea’s Submeter Billing service, schedule a demo with our team. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and even provide a free audit of your submeter spreadsheet to see if we can help with your specific scenario!