Trade receivables always have a risk factor associated with them. If the stipulated credit period extends to more than the desired days, then the company may even lose on its prospective suppliers and eventually its sales.
Further, the fortunes for a company can overturn in as little as 30 days. If the buyerâ€™s business fails, the seller could end up losing the money due on the trade receivables and in such a case there would always be a risk of an asset becoming a bad debt.
Ways to improve trade receivables
One of the key contributors towards cash flow problems faced by many small businesses is management of Trade receivables. Proper attention needs to be given to policy decisions which revolve around Trade Receivables in order to improve the sales and the related cash flows.
Given below are some of the ways in which cash flow can be improved in an organization:
Establish a Credit Check Process:
Have a good knowledge of the payment reputation of your potential customers. Set credit limit policies:
This will ensure that the company does not extend its credit limit to customers who are most likely to become bad debts. Putting a threshold on the credit limit will also help the sales department in knowing where not to put in their sales efforts.
Setting contract terms and avoid handshake deals:
Specify the contract payment terms such as method of payment, late payment penalty or credit period. Also handshake deals must be avoided as they become difficult to enforce.
Receiving down payment is a must:
A minimum amount of down payment can be made mandatory for a given order threshold. This will help the company in covering the cost of its inventory.
Standardizing the Invoicing Process:
A standardized invoicing process should be brought into action.
Base the invoice on milestones:
While undertaking large projects, work completion dates can act as invoice dates. Set milestones at 25%, 50%, etc. and as and when work is completed up to that milestone an invoice is raised for the proportionate amount. This will help the company receive payments while the project is running, also by doing this the customer is paying for the value that they receive.
Introducing a Customer Relationship Management System:
Using a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) that can track credit limits, customer information, payment terms, policies, etc ensures that all the departments in the company are communicating effectively and have the same information.
Outsourcing trade receivables to an outside agency:
In case of medium and large companies, outsourcing trade receivable process can be a better option. Professional accounting organizations can deal with it better.
Writing off Bad Debt:
Based on how long the balances remain outstanding, the company can write them off. This will give the company an additional tax benefit.
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