Jyoti Kerkar, AGM – Credit Controller
India, Agility Global Integrated Systems
Account Receivables (AR) is the most challenging and critical process for any business, Improper AR management will lead to unhealthy cash inflow. Trust me it is not an easy process, there are several challenges that business encounter. Every business has issues with customers not paying in time. Therefore establishing a robust credit control policy is advisable. Managing them in Stages like:
Before Sales: Before selling your products decide what your credit terms will be. The internal customer (Sales/Operation) needs to understand the credit policy. We need to know that credit involves cost and credit cannot be extended to every customer. For a better management we need to have a Credit Application form in which we collect data like Contact Person, Contact Address, email phone number, VAT number, PAN number, business the customer is doing. Having an approved Credit Policy, that clearly states Credit Sales Process. For instance, 30 days credit includes
Day 1 – sending the invoice. Day 10 - checking the receipt of invoice and Day 31 checking why the payment is delayed.
During the Sales: Here we need to check invoices before they are sent to the customers if they are as per the agreement, because the customer may hold the payment till corrected invoice is received. The invoice should include terms of payment, order no, delivery/invoice date, due taxes involved and other important details.
A number of customer delay payment saying they have not received the invoices therefore always confirm receipt of invoice.
Get in touch with your long standing customers well before the due date. So that you know way before if there are any disputes and that payments will come in time.
Give equal importance to late payments and always chase late payments having significant amounts, if need be charge late payment customers nominal extra charges too, be vigilant about dishonoured cheques.
After Sales: Is more of keeping good relation with the customer, who is paying in time, you could thank customers for paying in time by emails, a post note or through phone calls. For difficult customers you need to be assertive and educate the customer, you would stop delivery /supply when you do not receive payment by the set time
With the Credit Control Policies in place, it becomes easier to manage your Account Receivables (AR), There are a few smart steps every business organization can take for overcoming the challenges.
Reducing DSO: DSO is Days S ales Outstanding, it is a quick formula to evaluate how quickly or slowly a company collects on their AR. By reducing your DSO one can effectively improve its cash flow position. There are a few quick steps to be considered.
- Improve Billing: Sending out Invoices in Time, we need to understand the longer it takes to send the invoices to the customer, the longer it will take to get payment, even though you do not get paid immediately, you give the customer time to check and ask question and give you an opportunity to resolve the matter within the estimated due date. With the above an agreed payment policy should be clearly communicated as some companies want to be paid upon receipt of goods or service, while others may require a percentage of receipt and the rest later. In all, the customer needs to know when to pay and how much to pay.
- b. Give Incentives: Offering a discount to customers who are giving good business might result in quicker payments.
- c. Offer different payment methods: Cash/EFT/Direct Debit etc. Always make sure the payment terms and due dates are clearly written on the invoices.
- d. Do away with Bad Clients: Seriously, a customer who always defaults in payment needs no place in the business, as the time and labor spent on these bad customers can be diverted into getting potential new clients. Who might give better business and quick payments?
Improving AR Productivity: It solely depends on using proper accounting systems; it helps in reducing the non-value adding activities for the collectors and focusing on communicating with customers, settling disputes and performing other activities that would expedite payments. Automating the AR process should be the right step towards Improving AR Productivity.
Perform an Analysis: Reviewing your AR on a weekly or fortnightly basis will sure help in reducing default customers or for sure identify the defaulting customers. You could also be able to resolve issues before they become disastrous.
In conclusion, we can say that being time bound, alert and adopting systematic steps can help in overcoming your challenges with your Account Receivables.