June 15, 2016
Running a small business can be very complex and there are many distractions for the owner. Frequently, I see cash flow management become a secondary duty when business is booming and there is a perception that it will continue forever. I also know that pushing your customers for payment is uncomfortable. Unfortunately, employing cash flow controls and strategies are even more important when the times are good. Here are some great accounts receivable cash flow strategies ideas for business owners to use to keep your checking account full.
Review Your Entire AR Process – Most small businesses have a haphazard process. I highly recommend that you draw out a strict timeline and process to use and create a series of increasingly urgent letters that you can email to ensure that you get paid quickly. The squeaky wheel get’s the grease.
Send out Invoices as Soon as the Work is Complete – The faster you get the invoice to the customer, the faster you get paid. Most business owners are usually slow to get invoices out when they are concentrating on the operations of the business.
Hire a Part-timer to Manage the Accounts Receivable – If someone is accountable for the timely management of AR, cash flow improves dramatically. If the leader solely owns the execution it always gets deferred.
Run your AR Report Every Week – Run the AR aging report and study what is happening. Pay particular attention to the aging of invoices. Work on the >90 days first, then >60 days, and then >30 days. Once a week, make some calls to the laggards and your cash flow will improve.
Learn your Customer’s Pay Cycle – Many of your clients bill on different cycles. Once you know what they are, you can shoot the gap and make the call just before the bill is due.
Develop Relationships with your Customer’s Account’s Payable Department – This sounds crazy but developing the relationship with the person that can move your invoice to the top of the stack is well worth the effort. I have a client that sends candy bars to their contact. It works.
Use your Sales People to Push for Timely Payment – Usually the strongest client relationship is your sales person and their counterpart at your client. Many sales people don’t like to do this, the effect can be powerful.
Hire a Quality Collection Agency for the Last Resort – There are always a few client’s that force you to use this method. This customer should immediately be put into the never-do-business again column. I have seem some very effective and respectful collection agencies that can collect on old receivables and keep your customer if you decide to do that.
These are my top cash flow strategies for managing your accounts receivables. Your business does quality work and you deserve to get paid on time for it. Please don’t shy away from collecting the cash that you have earned.
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