Sales and debt collection process
Avoiding bad debts is helped by a systematic professional process in your company’s actions. Sales and debt collection process are connected. All of your sales process elements need being vetted. As a comparison, let’s say that the fastest Porsche will not bring you 100 meters away if it lacks one of its four wheels. It’s the same with your company: if you have the best product, excellent salesforce and good accounting but lack delivery and credit management competence, your company will suffer and your profits will be regrettably tarnished.
Debt collection starts with your sales conditions. The sales and delivery process is the second step to analyse. Thereafter, you need to spot the past due invoices and send appropriate reminders. If still unpaid after your internal efforts, it is better to outsource these claims (unpaid invoices) and concentrate on your main business and new sales.
General Sales Conditions
The first step is to have a contract and/or or General Sales Conditions agreed by your client. General sales conditions include many aspects of your trade. They also include a provision that describes what will happen if your client doesn’t fulfil his part of the job: the payment. Wording it could read like: <>. Please read more about interests and the fixed charge.
Sales and delivery
Before you deliver, make sure that you will be able to prove that your client ordered what you will deliver to him and agreed to the sales conditions above.
Moreover, you might one day need a proof that you have delivered the agreed goods and services. Can you do that?
These general basic elements of a professional sales process can vary from trade to trade.
Follow payments up
Don’t let your clients feel that you are slow on reminding them. Send them a payment reminder just the day after the payment was due. Now, to be able to do that, you need a system to list the past due invoices, including the amount due and the days overdue.
You could do it all in-house. However, this might divert your resource from other tasks: the tasks nobody else can do for you because these are your core business. Hence the need for outsourcing most if not all of your receivables that are over a month overdue. To whom? An attorney, a bailiff or a debt collector. You can call on these professionals at any time.
A debt collector will start with a letter to your client: the debtor. This letter will carry the message that the tasks of getting this invoice paid is now in professional hands. Such letter is statistically sufficient for 25% of the claims to pay dues.
If unpaid after some time (15 days by law for consumers; a few days for business to business debts), the debt collection process varies from one to another company.
At TCM, we will usually start phoning your debtor at that time. Thereafter, depending on the debtor’s reaction, we will combine phone calls, letters, emails, SMS and on-site visits.
Summons to courts
That was for the so called amicable deb recovery process. If no amicable efforts seem to trigger the expected payment, we can go to courts.
This is done only after you (the creditor) agree to it. And it is important to bear in mind that at this stage, any dispute or other possible problem is known and has been taken care of. That saves a lot of useless costs and efforts. It also makes the process much quicker as too many a case is brought to courts only to discover that there was an underlying problem. Before to go to courts, it is also essential to check if your debtor seems solvent, otherwise you will have an executory title with no money to satisfy it. At TCM, less than 1% of the claims we handle end up in courts.
The appropriate attitude
It is easy to be irritated by a non-performing client. You delivered according to the agreement and made efforts and, like any reasonable person, you get frustrated if not upset by some debtors’ attitudes. During the whole process, we at TCM keep a professional attitude. As it is our daily job, not our own money and not our own client that defaults, we can keep distance with irritation and other emotions. This is essential for success. We analyse facts and make rational decisions. When the decision should be yours, we provide you with the rationale and follow your instructions.
The payment comes in
Private persons owing 5 000 EUR to 50 000 EUR to a bank do not compare well, in terms of statistics, with parents owing 150 EUR to a school. In the same way, Belgian company owing 1 000 EUR to an electricity provider does not compare easily to an Indian company owing 150 000 EUR to a Belgian supplier. Thus it is hard to provide general statistics. However, you’ll find some figures on our statistics page.
The fact is that, at TCM, we book payments for our clients. Even up to <<109% of our total claims amounts where 9% are interests and collection charges)>> as one of our clients testified.
This money is then promptly remitted to you (see the bottom of our “Data Processing” page).
We collect in Belgium and in more than 100 countries around 5 continents.
Definitions provided under this section refer to the Belgian situation; unless specified otherwise. The texts are meant to summarize concepts in daily language and should not be considered as comprehensive or definite. We welcome suggestions for modifications or additions at firstname.lastname@example.org.