Collecting debts from your customers is a task business owners generally don’t enjoy spending their valuable time completing? However, collecting past due accounts is essential to maintain a healthy cash flow while minimizing exposure to bad debts. If you are one of the many business owners currently experiencing issues regarding customer debts, you need to remember several critical items each time you start pursuing a customer for an outstanding account. As every business has its own approach when it comes to establishing contact with customers and chasing debt, it is imperative that every contact or approach be done with caution to ensure the debt collection rules and regulations are being adhered too.
To prevent you from facing unnecessary risks whilst pursuing your customer debts, here are some helpful pointers to always remember prior to doing so.
Calling the Debtor
When contacting your debtors via telephone or SMS, it is important for you to contact only between the hours of 7:30am-9:00pm weekdays and 9:00am-9:00pm on weekends.
Calling debtors during public holidays is not allowed under the current Australian Debt Collection guidelines.
Consider this checklist before and after you make a call:
- Before starting a call
- Check if your invoices are correct together with the appropriate payment terms assigned. Pay attention to vital information such as the number of days until the payment is due, or how many days the invoice is overdue, and also the amount they need to pay.
- Have an e-mail PDF version of your tax invoices and send them accordingly to the correct recipient who pays the bill on behalf of the business.
- Prepare a list of debtors preferably in an excel file. Ensure the list is also updated with payments received, important notes and new accounts to chase.
- Collect or confirm contact details of a debtor – the more the better
- While making a call
- Take notes. Don’t forget to write the name of the person you’re speaking with, the details discussed and also if you have any personal thoughts/feelings regarding the conversation. It is better to write it down for future reference.
- Understand the circumstances of the debtor. While it may be hard on your part as the debt chaser, you must also (at times) place yourself in the shoes of the debtor. No one likes to be chased and told they owe money, especially if it’s an amount is well past the due date. So begin your conversation in a friendly and diplomatic way, as you maintain your level of professionalism to control the conversation.
- Be prepared for a number of excuses the debtor may provide to try and get out of or delay payment. This infographic will provide you with some pointers on how you can properly respond to the most common debtor delaying tactics.
- Prevalence of contact
- As per the Australian Debt Collection guides, contact with debtors should not exceed 3 right party connects each week. Contacts exceeding this may be deemed unnecessary harassment and open you up to fines for non-compliance to debt collection guidelines.
As a rule of thumb, you should call a customer/debtor via telephone a maximum of three times a week and no more that ten times a month.
Protect the debtor’s privacy
Every debtor deserves the right to keep his or her debt information private. Before disclosing any details of a specific debt, make sure that that you identify that the party you are speaking with is the debtor who owes you the money.
Maintain accurate and updated records
Record keeping is crucial for successful debt recovery. Always equip your business with information such as the time and date of every phone call, any face to face meetings as well as the amount of payments made and still owed by the customer. Additionally, have on hand and be ready to present any documents requested by the debtor to not delay payment.
Hire a debt collection agency
Partnering with a debt collection agency is considered the most effective way of dealing with any type of debtor. Professional debt collectors possess all the required tools and expertise to ensure payments are pursued within the current Debt Collection guidelines, thus achieving a more successful debt recovery. Aside from saving a significant amount of your time, improving cash-flow and reducing bad debt exposure, it is also more practical to hire debt collectors as some offer a no collection, no charge policy, which results in the agency only getting a commission if they have success with the recovery. If unsuccessful they have provided your business a free service trying various strategies to try and gain you the business owner a positive outcome. You have nothing to lose by engaging the services of a licensed professional debt collection company.
Remember that even though recovering your money is the main priority, there are still laws that protect anyone from any forms of potentially harmful behaviors such as threats, intimidation or harassment.
Take note of these tips to remain complaint and help improve your debt recovery performance.
Brodie Collection Services is a full-service agency offering a multitude of services and is one of Australia’s leading debt collection firms. Our objective is to provide you with expert debt recovery and advice at a price lower than the market cost. Our recovery approach is simple – we strive to get to the bottom of why you’re not being paid, then implement steps to ensure prompt payment. With 25+ years’ experience in debt recovery, we have undeniable results proving that debtors will pay once we become involved.
With offices in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, we can assist with all your collection & recovery, legal support services, and credit risk management requirements.