Getting paid seamlessly, online
WITHOUT SOUND CREDIT management processes, any business can come asunder.
Credit management, in a nutshell, is the process of ensuring your customers pay you on time, every time, of which technology has played a big part.
Cloud accounting, for example, has sped up the time it takes a business owner to create and send invoices to their customers, which smartphone and tablet accounting apps has further aided too.
But the next frontier, and it’s one that QuickBooks is already pushing with its PayPal partnership, is seamless online payments.
Businesses have been able to set up payment gateways in their accounting software for sometime, using PayPal (or Stripe or Braintree or many more in the US), for sometime. The downside, of course, is that you’re charged a fee each time your customer uses one of these services.
This is fine if you run an online shop, because you can incorporate the fee into the price of your products. It’s not so great if you offer professional or other services that may vary in price customer-to-customer, project-to-project. Hence, the PayPal-QuickBooks partnership was such a game changer.
Again, this option has been around for a while, with Xero and QuickBooks especially, but was only recently added to MYOB. It’s not dissimilar to the payment gateways feature we mentioned above, only it enables customers to pay your invoice securely and quickly directly from your invoice, with just the click of a button.
According to QuickBooks, this option has seen businesses paid two times faster than if they had to manually, by logging onto their internet banking and creating the payment themselves.
These are the latest players in seamless payments, and they specifically relate to payments made by tapping or waving mobiles devices (smartphones, tablets, smartwatches) at a EFTPOS machine.
Currently, the Apple Pay is only available to AMEX customers, while Android Pay is available to customers of the ANZ, Bendigo Bank, Macquarie Bank and most credit unions.
If you accept credit card payments in person, and you’re EFTPOS terminal has the option for customers to tap or wave their cards to make a payment, you can also accept them from connected smart devices.
Getting paid by your customers as quickly as possible is a crucial component of maintaining a healthy cash flow for your business.
This also forms the basis of any good credit management system.
If you need help with your credit management, ask your bookkeeper if they also provide this as a service, or search the National Bookkeeping directory to find a bookkeeper who does.
Do You Have to Drop a Client Because of a Bad Credit Check?
A Credit Check is one of the most important first steps of good credit and debt management but you can still do business if the check comes back negative.
In our previous post on credit and debt management, we recommended that all businesses — regardless of whether they offer credit to customers on a 30-day account or not — perform a credit check on any new client who will spend more than $1000 on goods or services in one sale, on an ongoing basis. But what should you do if the credit check comes back negative, and shows that the potential customer is guilty of late payments, pending legal action or already carries a significant level of debt?
It may not be a case of having to turn a potential customer away. You may still be able to offer services to the customer without the risk that they won’t pay by trying the following approach, before refusing them entirely:
Advise the Client of the Bad Credit Rating
If the client filled out your credit application or work authorisation form, which should have stated that you were collecting their information for the purpose of credit check, there may be a good chance they filled it out in good faith and they’re unaware of their bad credit rating. There may be a reason for the rating, like, for instance, that the business was recently sold. It may even, potentially, stem from an ongoing dispute with another supplier over the standard of their goods or services (although proceed with caution here, as this, too, throws up a few red flags).
Look a Little Closer
When you search deeper, you might discover that the customer experiences predictable fluctuations in trading conditions which render them more vulnerable to being cash flow poor at certain times of the year. You may be able to accommodate this in how you design your credit terms with this customer. You might also ask for a list of suppliers (ensure you get a complete list, not one that has been hand-picked by the customer to only show them in a positive light) who you can call and verify as to their likely credit risk for future.
Request Payment in Advance
This said, a bad credit rating is a bad credit rating, even if the client has a perfectly good and reasonable explanation for you. You have the upper hand here, so you’re well within your rights to only agree to do business with this client so long as they pay for your goods or services in advance.
If you’re a supplier, say, of goods and your delivery driver has the capacity to accept cash payments on delivery, you may accept COD, however it’s not recommended. If the client is unwilling to prepay for your goods or services, then there’s a good chance they’re not acting in good faith, and so you’re best to avoid doing business with them.
Need a Bookkeeper? Sydney’s North Shore
If you’re in need of some help with your own business’ credit and debt management and are seeking a reliable bookkeeper to manage your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts, either remotely or in-person, we are pleased to recommend Roz, a qualified bookkeeper based at St Ives, with tertiary qualifications in accounting. She is a National Bookkeeping member and comes to us with the practical experience of having operated her own business and proficient in the day-to-day accounting functions of a small business. Visit her profile page and Request a Quote for Bookkeeping Services.
Our National Bookkeeping website has recently gone through a significant upgrade so keep a look out for more stories about featured bookkeepers in forthcoming blogs. If you’re a bookkeeper why not join and we can feature YOU in our articles too.
It’s Good Business to Set Out Your Credit Management Policy at the Outset
CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESS OF ANY BUSINESS is the ability to maintain a healthy cash flow. But doing so requires effective credit management processes.
Unfortunately, too many business owners feel uncomfortable talking about credit and debt management upfront with new clients.
They (falsely) believe it begins if, and when, a customer doesn’t pay a bill. But, in fact, credit management starts much, much earlier than that — long before the two businesses even agree to work with each other, to be precise.
The 3 Stages of Credit Management
Credit management falls, generally, into 3 broad stages, beginning with how new customers are assessed before you do business with them.
If you extend a line of credit to your customers, payable on a 30-day account, then a credit check is an imperative first step. But even if you don’t offer credit, a credit check should be a routine part of the new customer set-up process.
If you provide services to customers that aren’t paid for in advance or upon receipt, and you allow that customer between 14 and 30 days to pay your invoice, you’ve essentially just extended them a line of credit.
Indeed, it’s recommended that any business, whether they’re a sole trader, freelancer or independent contractor, carry out credit checks on any new, ongoing customer for jobs over the value of $1000.
Stage 1: Assessment
The assessment stage of good credit management involves taking the following steps:
- Create credit application or work authorisation form
- Establish terms of trade
- Obtain a credit check
As long as the credit check doesn’t raise any issues of concern in relation to the business’ previous track record with paying suppliers on time, you can then decide to take them on as a client. From here you move to the next stage of credit management.
Stage 2: Management
This is the most involved stage of the credit management process, as it requires diligence to ensure your processes don’t slip. Some aspects of the management stage may require a phone call to your client to find out why they haven’t paid.
However, for the most part, cloud-accounting software has made it a lot easier to stay on top of your debtors. Ensure your process includes the following:
- Prompt invoicing (as soon as goods / services have been provided)
- Establish payment reminders, either by email or text
- Send regular statements (if customer is on a 30-day credit account)
- As soon as payment is overdue and in breach of terms of trade
- Send to debt collection.
If you speak to your client twice about an overdue invoice / account, and they still don’t make payment within an agreed time, refer them to your debt collection agency, however harsh that may seem.
Stage 3: Enforcement
Although debt collection agencies can chase a debt that’s as much as 5 years old, the older the debt, the harder it is to collect payment.
As soon as a client is in breach of your terms of trade, and your other attempts to collect payment have failed, refer the debt to your collection agency.
If debt collection is unsuccessful, you should speak to your accountant or financial advisor about writing the debt off in your next tax return.
Good Credit Management Should Mean Few Phone Calls
So the upshot of all this is a big part of a good credit management process is properly vetting all new customers before you do business with them. If this is the case, you should rarely have to pick up the phone to chase them for payment.
In that sense, credit management is not about getting on the phone. Rather, it’s about implementing a range of procedures for managing your debtors, and it begins before you even do any work for them.
We Can Help You Set Up Your Credit Management and Much More
Is your business yet to set up proper credit management systems?
Having the assistance of a reliable, experienced professional to help you do so may cost a lot less than you think. We have thoroughly-vetted, reliable bookkeepers across Australia, capable of setting up your systems so you can continue to do your bookkeeping yourself, or able to keep managing your daily or weekly bookkeeping and accounts.
In your office or in the Cloud
This can be done remotely or in person, with most of our bookkeepers tertiary qualified and able to assist in basic bookkeeping to more complex accounting tasks. These might include accounts receivable and payable and payroll, or financial strategising.
We also have registered BAS agents in our national directory. See our newly upgraded website, National Bookkeeping for more information.
Credit Management is an Extra Job
I’ve always believed that as soon as you offer credit you’ve got yourself another business – a credit management business. When we first created our MYOB Daily Transactions course we designed it to take students through the cashflow process of where money goes when it first leaves your bank account and these are the main steps:
- Money in the bank (cash asset)
- Buy stock (inventory asset)
- Products sold on account (accounts receivable asset – Trade Debtors)
- Customer pays their account (cash asset)
The interesting part of this business process to me is the marketing (choosing the products, pricing, marketing message and advertising) and the credit management to get the money back. Each of these stages and their tasks carry a certain amount of risk but the credit risk part is actually something you can manage to try to eliminate altogether, but it takes work and a system.
Well the good news is that we’ve created a Credit Management Training Guide that goes through the different parts of your business where you can put measures in place to reduce this risk significantly – even if you are in the trades or building industry.
Credit Management is a Job for Contractors
Many tasks in businesses these days is actually contracted out to independent contractors because of the flexibility and credit management is a great example because it can be performed a day a week (for smaller businesses) and it can even be performed by a remote contractor (virtual assistant) working from their own home office. See Credit Management Services at Natbooks!
Since we’ve started working with local bookkeepers at National Bookkeeping we’ve realised that credit management and daily transactions type work is by far the most common form of task performed by a bookkeeper. The rate of pay for bookkeepers performing this work is generally lower, but it’s a great option for people like working mums or dads who want to fit their work into their children’s school schedules as well as corporate accountants who want to make a start on their own bookkeeping business in their local area.
The corporate accountants or accounts managers we speak with often start performing this work in their new bookkeeping business but as their business grows they fill this position with a contractor of their own. Pre Qualify to join National Bookkeeping
Paypal and Quickbooks
Last year I wrote about the joint venture between Quickbooks (Intuit) and Paypal and how they want to help businesses get paid faster. They commissioned a study last year found that Australian small businesses are owed a collective $26 million in unpaid invoices. That’s roughly $13,200 owed to each business at any given time, for which business owners will spend an average of 12 days chasing them each year.
It’s a lot of time and effort to earn that kind of money particularly if you’ve actually already earned it by supplying your products and services!
Check out our Credit Management information page and watch out for the announcement when we include it as a student inclusion for ALL students. We created this guide to help businesses use their accounting software to better manage the credit risk in their business. We’ve included information for builders and contractors about the Security of Payments Act.