Your Debt Recovery Experts

Cash Flow Checklist

Cash Flow Checklist

When the holidays are over and we return to work, one of the first things we need to get on top of is the status of our accounts receivable.

Whether you’ve been really busy or closed over the holidays, this will inevitably be on your ‘to do’ list.

For many businesses, getting through the holidays and keeping the bank balance positive has taken some work. Some won’t have been so fortunate and need to collect their unpaid invoices … yesterday!

Then there’s the businesses who have been so busy over the holidays that they need to catch up on their invoicing and administration. Sales have been great, however now the cash needs to be collected.

Cash Flow Checklist

Here’s a handy checklist to run through in the new year, to assist in prioritising the tasks when you’re working on your cash flow.

1. Ensure orders are completed & invoiced promptly

Firstly, invoice for the orders that have been completed. Make sure any orders that have not yet been fulfilled are completed promptly, so you can invoice for these also.

2. Ensure Invoice Queries Are Resolved

Get onto any invoices queries straight away, the sooner they can be authorised, the sooner they will be paid.

3. Follow Up Outstanding Invoices

Start contacting your overdue customers. You will soon get a handle on who is back at work, so be first in best dressed, and have your invoices pushed to the top of the pile for payment.

4. Send Reminders

Send customers advance reminders of when payments are due.

5. Can your sales team assist you?

For many industries, January can be the time when the sales team are encouraged to take annual leave. Can any of your sales team who are back at work assist with chasing up overdue accounts for you? These colleagues may have some good relationships that they can reach out to, and assist in getting a commitment to pay.

6. Can you assist the sales team?

It may be really useful to assist the sales team in generating new sales at this time of year. They may be grateful for a list of historical sales by customer from you to see which customers were ordering last year.

7. Review your credit limits

Are there any customers who have reached their credit limit with you? Think about whether you need to review these and ask for payment up front or a deposit invoice instead of extending further credit.

8. Make It Really Easy For Customers To Pay

Have all payment options on the face of your invoices, and think about what an early settlement discount could do for your cash flow if you offered it for payment before the end of January.

We Can Help

Remember, when we chase your customers for payment, we ask them to pay you directly, meaning your bank balance gets an immediate boost.

If you need a hand chasing up unpaid accounts, send them to us as soon as you can, so we can work on them for you.

Let’s follow up those slow payers and get your cash flow flowing again! Call us on 03 9629 8777.

Chasing for payment? Recognise these characters?

‘Our Favourites’

We all love our customers who pay to terms, we don’t need to remind them, payment comes through before or on the due date and we all want more of these customers, these are our favourites.

‘The Busy Guys’

We’ve all learnt to manage the customers who ‘thought they’d paid’, ‘meant to pay’ or ‘forgot to pay’, these guys are busy people, and we know they’ll pay. We schedule our phone calls every month, following the same process and the arrangement works, we know the routine.

‘The Delayers’

Yes, they’re the ones, they say they didn’t receive an invoice or they want a copy of a delivery docket, but they only tell you when chased for payment. We manage these guys like the busy guys, we know the routine!

‘The Jugglers’

Then we’ve got our customers who can have cash flow issues. These guys intend to pay and they take some chasing, the timing of payment varies but generally speaking we get there in the end. But sometimes these guys are too embarrassed to let you know the issues they have. Let’s face it, juggling cash flow happens to the best of us, but sometimes these guys can go silent, and when payments get too far overdue, the situation becomes awkward, for everyone. This is when we wish someone else would deal with the matter, right?

‘The Avoiders’

Another character we wish someone else would take off our hands is the ‘I avoid paying’ or ‘I won’t pay in full’ type of character. These are the guys you reflect upon and wish you had asked for payment up front or not been so keen to accept their urgent request. It may have been the first time you supplied to them and you were keen to take on a new customer. The excitement of a new account has now turned to regret at giving them credit terms.

We’re here to help

Don’t forget, we’re here to make it easier to reopen lines of communication with cash flow juggling customers, even if sometimes it means entering into a payment arrangement on your behalf.

For customers who are refusing to pay, we can have the difficult conversations so you don’t have to. We are used to managing these types of characters and we can have success where you may not have.

Debts aren’t just bad for business, they’re stressful.

Collecting Debt from Individuals

We are often asked, as a mercantile agency, how we approach collecting debt from individuals.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) have produced a guideline. This guideline helps us to understand how the Commonwealth consumer protection laws apply to debt collectors, as well as in house collection departments within businesses. The guideline is online: https://www.accc.gov.au/publications/debt-collection-guideline-for-collectors-creditors

How may contact be made with a debtor?

If an individual owes you money and will not pay, you are entitled to contact them to ask for payment. You can contact them:

  • by phone
  • in writing (includes emailing, texting and social media contact)
  • in person.

 Am I restricted to when I can make contact?

Contact with a debtor must be made at reasonable hours, taking into account their circumstances and reasonable wishes. The following can be considered appropriate times and are the local times in the debtor’s state or territory:

  • phone contact between the hours of 7:30am–9:00pm on weekdays; and
  • 9:00am–9:00pm on weekends
  • No contact recommended on National public holidays

Face to face contact should be an option of last resort. Generally, face to face contact should only be made if reasonable attempts to contact a debtor by less intrusive means such as phone calls, emails or letters have failed, and face to face contact is considered appropriate and necessary. Reasonable hours of contact for face to face contact are:

  • 9:00am–9:00pm on weekdays and weekends
  • No contact recommended on National public holiday

How often can I make contact?

Debtors are entitled to be free from excessive communication or undue harassment. As a guide, contact should be limited (unless requested or agreed otherwise) to a maximum of 3 phone calls or letters per week (or 10 per month).

Generally, visits to the debtors home (or another agreed location) is not recommended and should only take place if there is no other way to make effective contact with the debtor, or if asked (or agreed) to a visit.

If repayment arrangements can be worked out over the phone or by letter, then face-to-face contact should not be necessary.

You must not:

  • threaten
  • harass
  • physically intimidate the debtor.

Debtor Management & cash flow solutions

Cash flow is the most important part of any business. Without it you simply cannot operate. One of the biggest hurdles with debtor management is ensuring your debtors pay you in a timely manner.

Cash Flow Finance, or Invoice Finance as it is also known, can speed up the cash flow of a business if it sells to other businesses.

How it works

Invoice finance is where a business’s accounts receivable ledger, (or part thereof) can be used as collateral against obtaining finance. The debtors ledger is sent to the finance company and they can remit funds to the business. The amount of the ledger which is financed varies depending on the debtors involved. When debtors begin paying the invoices, this repays the finance company.

Benefits of the solution

Kearley Lewis works with a handful of reputable invoice finance providers. The benefits of using an invoice finance company are:

·         You speed up your cash flow and get paid more quickly by your debtors

·         You can reduce your chances of having bad debts

·         You can obtain finance without providing real estate as security

·         Your costs for finance can be factored into your pricing

·         You can obtain debtor insurance as part of your invoice finance package

·         You get access to your funds immediately, while your competition wait until their debtors pay

Contact us

If your debtors are putting pressure on your cash flow and you’d like to talk about your potential invoice finance options, call Julie Lamers on 0406 744842.

Legal Action or Mercantile Agent?

When your business is not being paid for work that’s been completed or goods that have been delivered, do you think the next step is legal action?

Do the costs of potential legal action mean that you are reluctant to engage a Lawyer?

You don’t need to go to a Lawyer when you are in this situation. A mercantile agent will usually work on a commission only basis, meaning if you don’t get paid, you won’t get a bill. These days, the rates charged are competitive and with the right terms and conditions, you may even find that the commission costs can be claimed from your delinquent debtor.

A mercantile agent is an expert in recovering unpaid debt and specialises in talking with debtors and negotiating payment. If they can’t collect your debt, they will advise you of this and in conjunction with their Lawyers can advise you on whether legal action is recommended and the potential costs of this course of action.

At Kearley Lewis we have in house lawyers that we work closely with, and if we believe you need to speak with them we’ll let you know. Our Lawyers can work through more complex situations, including contract disputes and the breakdown of business partnerships. Read more about our in house Lawyer, Su-Ann Loh and her insights into debt recovery here.

If you would like to know more about how we could assist you, call us today on 03 9629 8777 or click here for more information on why you may wish to engage us.

 

Debt Collection: Top 3 Tips

Debt Collection: Top 3 Tips

Debt Collection: Top 3 Tips

 

1. Know your customer

Always ask new customers for a signed credit application, and ensure they have provided you with an ABN. Undertake a credit check and cross check the details to the credit application. You want to make sure you know who you are dealing with and avoid extending credit to the wrong customer.

2. Accurate and prompt invoicing

If you invoice promptly and all the information is accurate (including a reference to the purchase order) it will make it easier for your customer to approve and pay your invoice.  Attaching supporting documentation will prevent your customer from requesting any further information from you. Do everything you can to prevent unnecessary delays.

3. Collect payment from your customers promptly

Follow your credit policy and ensure you chase your debts promptly.  Gain the reputation with your customers that you will follow up payment. There’s nothing wrong with calling customers before the due date to check that payment will be made.

 

If you have some challenging customers and would rather not make the difficult calls, Kearley Lewis would be happy to assist you with your debt collection needs. 

It may be that you are spending too much time chasing customers and you need to focus on other areas of your business.  In which case, let us undertake your debt collection activities. 

We source and retain the best people to work with our clients and our people do everything they can to protect every client’s brand and reputation.

All our relationships are important to us and we strive to ensure that the values we demonstrate support and promote positively our clients, our staff and our business partners.

Call us today on 03 9629 8777.

Debt recovery: keep your cash flow healthy

Debt recovery: keep your cash flow healthy

We’re nearing the end of the first quarter of this financial year, and many of our business customers may have recently reviewed their debt recovery processes and procedures, to ensure they maintain a healthy cash flow and minimise potential bad debts throughout this year.

When your business is winning new business, it’s great for your P&L but if you don’t follow up your invoices and get paid, it’s not great for your cash flow.

Do you need to review your credit terms or invoice frequency?

You may or may not have standard credit terms that you offer your customers.  How promptly do your customers pay against their credit terms and does this payment cycle work for the cash flow of your business?

It may be that you need to think about having shorter credit terms so that you are paid more quickly.

Similarly, you may also wish to look at how frequently you invoice. If you invoice monthly, would it be beneficial to your business to invoice weekly? The sooner you invoice for the goods or services you have provided, the sooner you will get paid.

Follow up your sales invoices

Follow up your customers by calling them to confirm delivery or satisfaction with the goods or services you have provided; if there are any reasons that could give rise to a dispute, find out early and not when payment is overdue.  The sooner you resolve any issues, the sooner you will recover the debt.

Stay close to your customers, ensure they are aware of your terms of trade and from the start, ensure they know that you chase up your invoices promptly. Those who shout loudest get paid first!

Do you need to review your terms of trade?

Do you have a clause in your terms & conditions that will allow you to recover your debt recovery costs back from your debtor in the unlikely event that they do not pay?

If you do incur costs, you want peace of mind that you can recover these as well as the debt.

There are many clauses that can assist in the speedy recovery of your debts, they include some of the following:

  • Caveat / charging clause
  • Jurisdiction clause
  • Cost clause
  • PPS (Personal Property Security)

 

Kearley Lewis specialises in providing ‘business to business’ debt recovery services directly to Businesses.  They have an in-house Law firm, Lewis Holdway Lawyers which provides commercial legal services and experienced Law Clerks undertaking their collection services.

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