The best way to prevent overdue accounts is to avoid doing business with customers who have bad credit histories. I have seen one too many small business owners fail because of poor cash flow that resulted from high accounts receivable.
Here are five steps that can help your cash flow.
1. Watch for new customers with a bad credit history.
You can’t expect that a company or a person with a history of bouncing checks or paying their bills late will change their ways when dealing with you. If you must do business with the chronically late, lay down your credit rules early and firmly and start the relationship off slowly. Keep the amount of product or services you offer a company with an iffy credit record to a minimum until they’ve proven themselves worthy. And no matter how much you need the business, never start doing business with another person or company until you have a signed contract clearly stating and agreeing to payment terms.
2. Once you begin doing business with someone, make sure you stamp your invoices with the date that payment is due to you.
Don’t rely on the customer to look at the invoice date and add 30 days – or whatever your payment terms are – to determine the pay date.
3. Offer discounts for early payment and add interest to late payments.
A typical discount is two percent to three percent off the total if the bill is paid within 10 days of the invoice date. The maximum amount of interest that can be charged varies by state.
4. Phone customers and start trying to collect the day after a payment is due.
Never wait – let them know that you keep close track of your accounts receivable.
5. Until a customer pays their bills, don’t do any more business with them.
Do not bend on this rule – you’ll only cause yourself more problems and scuttle any chance of collecting what you’re owed. If you really want to keep doing business with a customer who owes you, insist that any new products or services they receive from you are c.o.d. – cash on delivery.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you review your Aging Accounts Receivable Report at least quarterly, preferable monthly.
After you have integrated the advice I have shared here to your collection process, you will find the days of high Accounts Receivables a thing of the past.
if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Salim@Omargroupcpa.com or visit my website at www.OmarGroupCPA.com. We are an entrepreneurial CPA firm that helps New Jersey small business owners and professional practices with maximizing their profitability and cash flow.