Especially if you have a smaller team, or just one person, managing in-house debt collection, it can feel like you’re playing a constant game of catch-up. You’re reaching out to hundreds of customers a day and keeping track of how much each owes, often to still have invoices go beyond terms or sending the invoices off to a debt collection agency. There are a lot of moving pieces and parts of in-house debt collections, from sending reminders to customers who are not yet due, to following up with those who have gone past due and dealing with invoice dispute escalations. However, it doesn’t all have to be complicated, confusing and frustrating. There are some simple steps you can take to start managing in-house debt collection effectively.
SENDING THE INVOICE
In order to keep your average days to pay as low as possible, send the invoice as soon as possible. As soon as the customer receives the product or service, send an invoice. If you take too long to get the invoice out, this gives the customer less time to make a payment. Imagine if you have NET 30 terms from the time the customer receives the product. Then, you send the invoice out a week later. Finally, they receive the invoice in the mail 5 days later. Now, the customer only has 18 days to pay the invoice on time, as opposed to sending the invoice via email as soon as the product was delivered and giving them the full 30 days to make a payment. Ensuring the invoice is correct, easy to read and includes the proper supporting documents can help you get paid faster, as well.
If you’re only following up with customers once their invoice has gone past due, you’re not following up enough. There’s a chance that your customer will forget about the invoice once it comes across their desk, so if you don’t follow up before hand then it WILL go past due. You’re not the only company they need to pay, so you need to stay at the front of their mind. There are three main times you can email or call to follow up:
- Reach out to make sure the customer received the invoice
- Follow up to see if their were any questions or problems with the invoice
- Give one last reminder of the due date and their payment options
If, even after these reminders, the customer still goes past due, reach out often to find out why the payment has gone past due and when you can expect to receive the payment.
When you’re using aging reports on spreadsheets and highlighters, sending all the invoices out immediately and following up once a week can seem like a daunting task. You only have so many hours in a day to barely get the work you’re doing now completed. For this reason, we recommend using automated debt collection software. This really is the secret of effectively managing in-house debt collection. Sending invoices as soon as the product is delivered can be completely automated. Weekly reminders to pay the invoice can be completely automated. By automating these processes, you’re increasing the number of customers who are paying on time, while giving yourself more time to reach out to those who need the extra push.
Those who have used an automated debt collection software have saved up to 600 hours a month that was previously spent on manual tasks, they’ve eliminated bad debt and decreased their average days to pay. This is because the debt collection software is prioritizing who they need to call next for them, has all the customer information in one place on how much is owed, what has been paid and when and sends out reminders and alerts continually without having to do any extra work.