Debt Prevention is the Best Cure

We live in a golden age of access to information, thanks to the internet you can find pretty-much anything you want to know using your computer, tablet, or smart phone. What’s really nice is the ability to find people that can help you achieve your goal.

Equipped with the answers to your debt problem, what does the average manager / owners do with the information?

In most cases they do the same as they did last month, last year and the year before that, hope the customer pops in and pays.

It happens because the average manager / owner believe the following reasons are somehow valid when it comes to collecting what’s owed to them.

  1. They seem nice, they will pay eventually
  2. I haven’t got time to chase customers, I’m too busy
  3. We don’t want to upset the customer
  4. They may move to another practice
  5. We phoned and sent letters, what more can we do?

The excuses detailed above are by no means complete, managers and owners tell themselves that engaging the services of a collection professional is too risky, too expensive, too time consuming and most of all to its uncomfortable to deal with. Somehow it seems easier to ask the bank to increase facilities rather than collect what’s owed to them.

What Can I Do? Answer – Introduce clear guidelines

One of your first jobs as a business owner should be to set in place a set of clear guidelines for the issue and recovery of invoices. All customers and staff should be made aware of the process of issuing and chasing invoices and this should be adhered to consistently – without fail. Don’t give second, third or fourth chances to customers – they’ll come to expect it and could end up taking advantage.

Writing your guidelines

When thinking about these rules, think carefully about your particular business. If you run a veterinary practice, for instance, you will have a number of different income streams – those who are regular customers, those who are emergencies and those who are ‘commercial’. As each type of customer arrives with entirely different sets of circumstances, each of these may be dealt with differently.

 Get your procedures right from the outset.

An example of your guidelines could be:

Emergency customers must pay in advance / at the time of treatment
• Regular on-going treatment may be completed under payment/credit terms
• All credit customers must undergo credit checks first
• All invoices must be paid within one month
• One reminder will be sent before further action is sought

Use a good T&C specialist solicitor

You should set up your terms and conditions with a specialist to ensure that they meet all the correct legal requirements. We are lucky to work with a firm who we recommend to our clients to ensure that your procedures are watertight – preventing any confusion or issues in the future. Contact dsl for further details. www.dsluk.net

Make everyone accountable

Charge one staff member with the job of looking after accounts and invoices. Having a clear person who can be the point of contact for all clients and customers is vital for giving your accounts department a “human face”. This makes it harder for there to be instances of any miscommunication or misunderstandings – as there is one person who has dealt with the entire procedure.
The ‘right’ person should be friendly and understanding, but also willing to be hard when called on to do so. If problems arise internally and you’ve followed your own procedures, there should be no issue with passing on debt to a collection agency – after all your customers know what is expected of them from the outset.

As you can see, the point we are trying to make is that everything should be laid out; clear for all to see and that it works for your business type. Hopefully this should mean fewer instances of unpaid bills.

Should you want to find out more about correct procedures or, to find out more on how we can help you, please feel free to contact us on 01527 543672 or via email mike.brooks@desluk.net

 

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