Good credit management is an important business strategy to maintain cash flow and stable finances.
A cornerstone of managing credit is not only making sure an invoice gets paid, but gets paid on time. Before a debt recovery process commences (which may delay payment further and damage a relationship with a customer), it is worthwhile for businesses to put a few processes in place to avoid customer debt in the first place.
Prepare your customers
Making sure the customers understand their payment terms from the start is the first step in training them to keep track of outstanding invoices and payment due dates.
Keep detailed records
Businesses should keep all customer records such as payment term agreements, customer limits and outstanding sales to date.
Follow up regularly
Starting following up procedures once a payment becomes overdue will help speed up the process. It is also very important to know exactly who to speak to about payment matters, it may be different to the person you had been dealing with during the transaction process. Being consistent when following up debts will help businesses maintain good customer relationships.
Implement payment in full
Most businesses adopt this policy in regards to payment procedures. This way the customer has a full amount to pay by a concrete due date. Sometimes ‘making it easier’ for the customer by staggering payments and due dates can confuse and delay payments even further. If there are ongoing problems of overdue payments, businesses can consider mediation or debt collection services.
For labour and time intensive work, some businesses ask for a part payment or deposit up front. This works as a way of showing that the customer is financially committed to the project. It also allows a business to better manage cash flow, knowing that there won’t be months at a time when there are no payments coming in because of works in progress.
Legal action is very expensive and should be considered as a last resort.