Automatic billing

Collect payment via ACH, credit card, and more right after signing, all powered by an integration with Stripe

Mark Frantz avatar
Written by Mark Frantz
Updated over a week ago

Often the next step after signing an agreement is collecting payment from customers. The automatic billing feature allows you to have a Stripe subscription automatically created from the details within an agreement, and have your customer pay for that subscription immediately after signing an agreement.

Note: Stripe supports paying by credit card, ACH or bank transfer, and more. These options can be customized in your Stripe account.

Connecting a Stripe account

In order to connect your Stripe account, click on the Integrations link on the left navigation. Once there, click Connect Stripe.

In the integrations page, you will see an option to "Create or connect a Stripe account for access to automated billing integration features."

This will bring up a Stripe hosted process where you can select which Stripe account to connect, or create a new Stripe account. Once you've finished this process, you'll return to Common Paper and your account will be connected. You can disconnect your Stripe account at any time by returning to Integrations and clicking Disconnect.

Setting up an agreement to bill with Stripe

Note: This feature is currently only available for Cloud Service Agreements.

In order to set up an agreement to use the automatic billing feature, start by creating a new Cloud Service Agreement from one of your templates. Once there, you can turn on the automatic billing functionality by navigating to the bottom of the agreement and toggling on the Include Billing Workflow option.

Stripe Products and Prices

Stripe has a concept of Products, which are essentially what your business offers, whether products or services. Each Product can have multiple Prices, which include both a cost and whether or not it is recurring.

Our automatic billing feature integrates with these core concepts by allowing you to either select an existing Stripe product or create a new one. When the checkout is actually created by your customer, we'll either create the Product or use the existing one you selected, and we'll either match an existing Price or create a new one based on the parameters of your contract.

Once you've turned on the billing workflow, either select an existing product in your Stripe account or select Create new product and provide a name for your product.

NOTE: This product name WILL show on the checkout screen that your customer sees, so keep that in mind.

Bill delivery

You have the option to let Stripe generate an invoice immediately after your recipient signs their agreement. Or, you can generate a draft invoice saved in Stripe. Choosing the draft option means that you will need to finalize this invoice yourself and email it to your customer.

Configuring Subscriptions

Common Paper automatically calculates what subscription should be created in Stripe based on the way that you configure your Cloud Service Agreement.

The automatic billing feature is configured by several different fields:

  1. Subscription Period and Auto-Renewal

    These two fields are used to determine the duration of the subscription in Stripe. If a contract is set to auto-renew, then the subscription does not have an end date set. If auto-renew is turned off, then the end date of the subscription will be set to length of the subscription period.

  2. Cloud Service Fees and Invoice Period

    These two fields are used to determine the cost and recurrence of the subscription in Stripe. The Cloud Service Fee is divided by the invoice period to determine what the subscription costs should be.

    For instance, if the Cloud Service Fee is set to $1,200 per year, and the invoice period is set to monthly, then the subscription that will be created will be $100/month.

    If the Cloud Service Fee is set to $1,200 per year, and the invoice period is set to annual, then the subscription that will be created will be $1,200/year.

    NOTE: There are combinations of these fields that are incompatible with Stripe. In those scenarios, an error message will show. You can either change the variables to ones that are compatible, or switch to our Payment Links feature.

  3. Taxes

    Checking/unchecking the Modifying Section 5.1, fees are inclusive of taxes will update that information accordingly on the contract. If your Stripe account has the tax module, this information is also relayed to Stripe and will determine whether or not the checkout contains additional tax or not.

Billing preview

As you set up the various fields, you'll see a preview of how the system has calculated that subscription in the Cloud Service fees section. You should pay careful attention to this, as it is what Common Paper will ultimately create in Stripe.

http://The automatic billing preview shows you exactly what subscription information will be sent to Stripe.

As mentioned before, there are a number of situations that Common Paper currently can't automatically create subscriptions in Stripe, and in those situations you will see an error message to that effect. In these scenarios, we recommend using Stripe directly to create a Payment Link and switching to our Payment Links feature, or by turning off the Include Billing Workflow entirely.

An example of an automatic billing error message.

Finalizing the Agreement

Assuming that everything looks correct, you can send the agreement as normal, or save as a draft and send later. Once the agreement is sent, the normal agreement workflow occurs.

Changing or turning off automatic billing after sending

Once the agreement has been sent (but before it is signed), you can update the billing configuration for that agreement in the following ways:

  • Turn it off

  • Change it to a Payment Link

  • Change the Stripe Product that will be used

In order to make these changes, navigate to the agreement's history page and click on the change link.

Note that you cannot change the actual subscription information here - in order to make that change, you must Propose Changes on the agreement or Void the agreement and send a new one.

What customers see

Immediately after a recipient signs an agreement that has automatic billing enabled, they will be redirected to a special post-signature success page.

If you've chosen to bill immediately, your recipient will see a screen for verifying their billing information. Clicking on Get your invoice will direct them to a Stripe checkout screen for the subscription that you've configured.

The payment methods you accept can be managed in your Stripe account, but may include credit card payments and ACH payments. Your customer can also download and save a copy of their invoice from this screen.

If you've chosen to save your invoices as drafts in Stripe, your recipient will still be asked to verify their billing information, but will not proceed to a payment screen. They will be directed back to Common Paper and told their information was submitted successfully.

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