Taking a few safeguards can improve your success when collecting on your receivables.
The case managers at Brown & Joseph have found that basic strategies are usually the most effective for improving collection rates.
In order to increase the effectiveness of your collection process, follow these basic guidelines:
Have a written credit policy.
Have a written credit policy and follow it on a consistent basis.
Know your customer.
Is your customer an individual, a sole proprietor, a partnership, or a corporation?
Businesses often use fictitious names and acronyms for their businesses. It is important to clearly establish who is responsible for the obligation.
Plan for collection problems before they happen.
Your credit agreement or application should provide for provisions for attorney’s fees, interest at the highest rate allowable and late charges for a delinquent account.
In order to recover attorney’s fees, most courts require a written agreement signed by an authorized representative of the customer.
Use personal guarantees.
especially when you are dealing with new companies that do not have a credit history and will try to escape personal liability by creating a corporate account.
Have a detailed credit application.
All of the above and more should be contained in a comprehensive credit application.
Obtain a security agreement.
Keep all correspondence between you and your customer.
Letters or emails received from your customers may admit the liability in question. Phone conversations should be followed up with a letter or email confirming the conversation.
A letter or email received from your customer that you do not agree with should be responded to delineating the reasons for the dispute.
Most importantly, once an account is in dispute and the customer has defaulted you must act quickly. The age of the account will be one of the main factors that will impact your ability to be able to collect.
Statistics show that 90 days after the account is past due, you have less than a 75% chance of collecting it. The percentage quickly shrinks every passing month and after 12 months, there is only a 25% possibility of collection.
It is essential that accounts are closely monitored during the first three months of aging and an evaluation is made without delay whether an account should be sent out for collection.
Almost always, debtors will ask and creditors will afford a debtor a final opportunity to remit, hopeful that payment will be received the next day, or next week, or next month. This tactic is used by all debtors. Your most effective tool is acting promptly.
The strategies discussed above will assist you in managing your accounts receivable and provide for increased collection rates if and when the account is sent out for collection.
Information in this article is provided as a matter of information and education only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or counsel. Do not take action in specific cases without the full knowledge of the facts, and competent legal advice from your attorney.