How to Collect More Delinquent Accounts In-House
A recent survey conducted by the Credit Research Foundation (CRF) — National Summary of Domestic Trade Receivables — revealed that on average 87% of accounts are current, while 0.4% are over 90 days past due.
Improving Your Chances of Collecting Past Due Receivables In-House
Tip #2 ” Customize your invoice to promote payment. The quality of your invoice has the most impact on whether and when payment will be made. The primary goal of your invoice? Make it easy for the buyer to pay. Here’s how.
- Keep the format consistent so that the buyer knows where to find essential information.
- Provide all information the buyer will require to make payment including:
- The word “Invoice” ” so there can be no question of the purpose of the document
- Your remittance address and contact details
- Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax ID number
- Purchase Order number (if there is a purchase order)
- Date of the Invoice and unique referenced ID #
- Clear description of the products/services provided, including the date of service or date the product was sent or delivered
- Total Amount Due ” itemized, including charges per unit (if applicable)
- Tax Payments, if relevant (GST and VAT)
- Date Payment Due ” statistics show that customers tend to pay on time most often when a specific date for payment is included on the invoice, rather than “Due Upon Receipt” or “Payment Due within 30 Days”.
- Payment terms
Tip #3 ” Follow-up on invoices before they become due. This will not only help avoid delinquencies, it may actually improve rapport with your customers. A call shortly after the products were to arrive or before the invoice due date is an effective customer service contact, as well as a reminder of payment.
Take the opportunity to remind the customer of the terms and the due date. Specifically inquire if they can foresee any reasons why the invoice wouldn’t be paid within terms.
Sample Treatment Plan
|Large Accounts > $xxxx||Small Accounts < $xxxx|
|0-30|| Sales/Customer Service Call
and reminder 5 days after
delivery or 5-7 days prior to
| *Customer Service Survey
and reminder sent 5 days
after delivery or 7-10 days
prior to due date
|35-40|| Reminder Call #1 followed
by letter outlining results of
|Reminder Letter #1|
|45-50|| Reminder Call #2 followed
by letter outlining results of
|Reminder Letter #2|
|55-60|| Escalation Call by creditor
supervisor to debtor
|Reminder Letter #3|
|65-70|| Final Demand Collection
Call followed by Final
| Final Demand Call followed
by Final Demand Letter
|80-85||Refer to collection agency|| Refer to collection agency or
*The Customer Service Survey would ask the same questions that would be asked in the Customer Service call to large accounts. This could be mailed (with a postage-paid return envelope), emailed, or faxed.
Tip #9 ” Know when to let go. Hanging on to delinquent accounts past a certain point isn’t worth your time and effort. There comes a time when you need to increase the pressure to pay by sending the debtor to the professional collection agency. How do you know when to let go?
- If the customer doesn’t return your calls or respond to your contacts, send it to the agency ASAP. They may be in the process of skipping out.
- If the debtor breaks a payment promise, it’s time to move him up the line. He obviously has no respect for you or your company, so your further efforts will result in nothing. Pass it along to your agency.
- The probability of collecting a delinquent account drops dramatically with the length of the delinquency. According to a survey of the members of the Commercial Collection Agency Association (CCAA), the probability of collecting an account 90 days past due drops to just 69.6%. At 6 months past due, there is only a 52.1% chance of collection. If the account ages to 1 year past due, the likelihood of a successful collection is 22.8%. Most sources consider 90 days past due the optimal time for sending your account to a collection agency.
While making the sale can be a heady experience, if the cash isn’t collected you can end up with a huge headache. Planning for delinquencies and developing a proactive, detailed and consistent strategy for handling them ” before they happen ” will help ensure that past due accounts don’t strangle your cash flow and become threats to your very survival.
Check out these other commercial collection tips and articles on our website:
- 6 Tips for Making Collection Calls that Get Results
- 9 Guidelines for Selecting the Right Collection Agency
- 9 Steps to Help Your OCA Help You
- 13 Strategies to Speed Up Collections
- A Career in Collections? Consider the Possibility!
- Collecting by Phone: The Three-Step Process
- Collection Litigation: Court Costs and Suit Fees
- Evaluating Your OCA’s Performance
- Payment Plan Negotiations
- Regulating Commercial Debt Collection
- Using an OCA to Execute Debtor Judgments
- Working with an OCA