Successful credit control may be one of the most difficult aspects of your business, as your company grows it becomes even more difficult to keep track of all of your paying (and non-paying) customers. Our clients come to us because they are struggling with late payments, their customers are avoiding them, and they’re unable to collect payment. We know how much damage late payments can do to your business and so we wanted to help you avoid some of the most common pitfalls of credit control.
The case of the missing invoice. Never has one document gone missing more than an invoice, it is one of the most common excuses that people make to justify a late payment. There will be some circumstances where your invoice gets misplaced, but it is important that you do your part to avoid customers taking advantage. If you send the invoice in the post, make sure that the customer has to sign for it, this means that you can be confident that it has been received. If you are a little more technological, send the invoice by email (for one thing it is a lot quicker!) add a “read receipt” option so that you can check that the customer has received the invoice. In both cases, you should give a courtesy call to the customer to ensure that they have received the invoice and they are happy with all of the details and payment methods.
“The cheque is lost in the post” another cliché, but customers are still trying to get away with it. Many businesses have chosen to refuse cheques as a valid method of payment, eliminating the risk of payment “getting lost”. If you still accept cheques and this excuse gets used on you, ask the client for the cheque number and the postal date to add to your records; this will determine if the client is telling the truth or just trying to delay payment. Encourage your clients to make payment via bank transfer or PayPal, if you are providing a regular service then request that the client set up a direct debit/standing order.
Another common problem is trying to pin down the person responsible for making a payment. They’re constantly “away from their desk” or “unavailable”, and it can be very difficult to get them on the phone. Persistence will eventually pay off, they won’t avoid you forever, where possible follow-up every failed phone call with an email to let them know your reason for calling and that you will call again. If your contact is on an unplanned two-month holiday (we all have those, right?) then they should have someone that is handling their work, ask to speak to the person dealing with payments in their absence.
Your sales team may do business with a bad payer. It’s important for your business to be aware of potential bad payers, that is where a credit report comes in useful. A credit report gives you a deeper understanding of a customer’s payment history and can give you the confidence to trade, or not, with a new client. Share your findings with your team so that they can be aware of bad payers, this will stop them doing business with customers that may damage your cash flow.
Running out of time. There are only so many hours in the day, and there’s always more than one job to get done. It can be difficult to be as effective as you want to be when you’re trying to complete more than one job. Credit control is a time-consuming task and can easily fall to the wayside. Consider outsourcing your credit control to a third party to ease the pressure and allow yourself the time to focus on growing your business.
At Commercial Domestic Investigations, we can help your business to navigate the common pitfalls associated with credit control. If you want to discuss how we can help you, contact us on 08444 159200, use our contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.