Your company is expanding and the number of delinquent accounts is on the rise. Do you:
a) Give stubborn customers another week to pay;
b) Try yet another call or certified letter; or
c) Hire a professional collection consultant?
If you answered a) or b), think again.
If you have an invoice that’s more than 30 days past due, the chances of collecting on it drop down to 89.9%. That’s according to the Commercial Collection Agency Association. After six months, your shot at getting paid gets even worse – 52.1%.
Are you willing to gamble with your company’s bottom line?
As the accounts receivable manager, it’s up to you to ensure a positive cash flow. But time is of the essence when it comes to collections. So when you don’t have the time to pursue and manage collections – or aren’t getting good results through in-house efforts – you need to call in back up.
Using a professional collection consultant will save time and likely yield better results than you can achieve on your own. Your previously dismal chances of receiving payment start to seem much more possible.
Here are some questions you may have about the process:
When should I place an account with a professional collection consultant?
The earlier the better. Some companies place accounts at 60 days, while others wait a year. But the longer an unpaid account sits on the books, the lower your chances of getting paid.
Also, if there are any red flags, such as a customer writing a bad check, it’s important to turn over the account to collections immediately.
How long do collections take?
Experienced collection consultants can often collect in a matter of days or weeks. However, if they aren’t able to collect within approximately 30 days, they'll generally advise you as to whether litigation is an appropriate next step.
How much will a collections consultant charge me?
There are a variety of factors that dictate fees, such as the size of the debt, the age of the account, and the type of work required to collect. However, the contingency fee is typically around 20 – 25% of the collected amount.
That means collection consultants only collect a fee if they succeed in settling your bad debt. You don't risk spending money on unsuccessful efforts.
Are there consultants that charge lower fees?
When shopping around for collection consultants, it’s tempting to seek out the lowest rate vendor. But keep in mind: This company or individual will be representing your business on sensitive financial matters. Therefore, bargain shopping can be a risky strategy.
Moreover, lower fees generally don’t translate into better results. "You get what you pay for" became a cliche for a reason. A lower priced consultant might give you a lower chance of collecting those long overdue payments.
What information does a collection consultant need from me to get started?
To improve the collections process, it’s important to provide as much information as possible about the delinquent account, including:
The correct spelling of the debtor’s name
Their address, phone, cell phone, fax and email
Contract / sales agreement
Summary of the dispute
Date of the last order and payment
Nicknames, aliases and/or maiden name
What should I look for in a professional collection consultant?
It’s important to seek a partner, not just another vendor. You want a professional collection consultant that's experienced and effective, provides good value for the money and fits well with your company and team.
When searching for consultants, look for those who place a priority on communication. They should have a process in place for keeping you in the loop – about the good, the bad, and the ugly – throughout the engagement.
Get more tips on choosing a professional collection consultant.