As every company knows (or should know), establishing a weekly/daily routine to review your accounts receivables, defines best in class sales operations. Those companies that have a coordinated approach from both sales and accounting staff to encourage adherence to payments terms, routinely have a reduced bad debt experience and increased cash flow. Hoping that your invoices will get paid is a flawed and antiquated business approach. When it comes to A/R, the longer you wait to collect, the more difficult it may become to collect. A payment is delinquent as soon as the due date has passed. Therefore, be ready to deploy established internal outreach efforts by contacting your customer reminding them of the payment terms, and that the account is now past due and must immediately be paid. The best person in your company to make this initial contact with your customer is the salesperson who has the ongoing day-to-day interaction with the customer’s buyer, who presumably is still making daily purchases. Keep in mind that a payment beyond the agreed terms could be a sign of a potential problem. We have a favorite saying here at WG’s Trade Practices; “Slow pay eventually ends up as No pay”. Early and often attention to immediate contact seeking payment consistent with contract payment terms will allow you to make an informed business decision to ongoing selling to that customer. Put another way, you want to be that squeaky wheel that gets the attention.
If you do not receive a prompt response to your payment request, a follow-up call by sales or your accounting staff is now in order. Use precise language that makes clear you require payment, with a date certain expectation. Remember, if your customer is late with payments to you, they are also delinquent on invoices with other suppliers. Do not allow your customer to raise capital for their operations on your balance sheet. Use all available resources to determine if the customer has had a fundamental change in business operations. Do you regularly review Blue Book updates on your customers? Are there other references the customer may have provided you before you started doing business that you can check with?
If a slow or no-pay cannot be resolved in a timely manner, do not hope the check is in the mail. Time is not your friend when it comes to getting paid, in which case you could end up being faced with multiple slow or no-pays. If you are unable to secure the cooperation of your customer after your initial contact(s) don’t let what started out as a small problem turn into a big problem. Please do what many WG shippers do by reaching out to the Western Growers Trade Practices Department for assistance. As a Western Grower regular member, we are here to assist you in securing payment on your behalf. Since 1966, the Trade Practices Department have routinely corresponded on behalf on individual regular members to assist with slow pay and disputed shipments. Our goal, is for a charging a negligible fee, we contact the customer directly with the goal of getting your past due invoice paid, and also at the same time maintaining the established business relationship you have with your customer. The fact that your customer ignored your request may be a warning sign of potential collections issues. After you have exhausted efforts in securing payment, involving Western Growers ensures that your customer is aware that you pay close attention to your accounts receivables and that their payment practices are being regularly monitored.
To conclude a successful sales transaction, collection of the money, that clears banking channels, is the final (and maybe most important) step. Let Western Growers be your outsourced partner in helping your company ensure successful transactions.
Please contact any of the Western Growers Trade Practices team members Ken Gilliland, Bryan Nickerson, and Matt McInerney