Maintaining an effective accounts receivables department can be a challenge. Implementing proper policies and procedures is the most important factor, but is often overlooked by many small to medium size businesses. Everything from your credit application to the length of terms will affect the numbers on your aging report. Working with a collections agency that will provide you commercial credit reports really help you know your client plus help you make an informed decision when extending terms to new customers which limits your risk.
A time sensitive program should always be the foundation of your accounts receivables program. If at 30 days you send off the first letter, this along with late fees, should be policy across the board. The list of procedures followed for delinquent accounts by your company should always be consistent. Your customers should know what to expect. Always follow a detailed time-line consisting of phone calls and letters from day 60 – 90.
Depending on your industry, 90 days is generally the optimal time to send your delinquent accounts to your collection agency. The debt is usually fresh on the debtor’s mind. If the company is experiencing hardship, it will make your company a priority over the other debtors. Also, a collections agency will have a psychological advantage when dealing with a debt over a receivables manager or clerk.
If you wait until you see red flags before you turn over the account to your collection agency, you will possibly be too late. As an example, if your customer’s phone is disconnected, he is, most likely, pretty far along on the process of closing his doors. If he already stopped answering your phone calls you most likely are no longer a priority and does not have the best intentions. If your customer is opening another line of credit, it could be because he is ready to burn down a bridge with you.
If you are waiting for tell tale signs then you are waiting too long. Get your collection agency involved at 90 days, not only will your aging report improve but you will probably be charged a lower rate for debt recovery.