Accounts Receivable Collections

Updated on January 2, 2024
Article byGayatri Ailani
Edited byShreeya Jain
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is Accounts Receivable Collections?

Accounts receivable collections involve retrieving overdue payments from customers or clients who have made purchases on credit. When someone sells its products/services on credit, it creates accounts receivable, which represent the money owed to the business by its customers.

Accounts Receivable Collection

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The accounts receivable collection process involves several systematic steps to ensure timely customer payment while maintaining strong financial stability. These steps include sending customer invoices or statements, following up with reminders or payment notices, and contacting customers to discuss outstanding balances. It helps optimize cash flow, reduce financial risk, maintain customer relationships, and provide crucial financial information for decision-making.

Key Takeaways

  • Accounts receivable collections involve collecting payments from customers or clients who owe money to a business for goods or services they have received but have not paid for. 
  • It includes managing and tracking outstanding balances and taking steps to ensure timely payment. The goal is to convert accounts receivable into cash in the business’s bank account.
  • The process involves sending invoices, following up on late or unpaid bills, and employing strategies to encourage prompt payment.
  • It helps maintain a healthy cash flow and ensures businesses receive the money they are owed.

Accounts Receivable Collections Explained

Accounts receivable collection involves various activities and strategies to ensure customers fulfill their payment obligations within the agreed-upon terms. The goal is to convert accounts receivable into cash, which helps improve cash flow and overall financial stability for the business. Effective accounts receivable collection practices are essential for maintaining healthy working capital, reducing bad debt, and ensuring the company’s financial viability.

It involves a series of steps to collect outstanding payments from customers who have purchased goods or services on credit. When a sale is made on credit, an account receivable represents the amount the customer owes to the business. Promptly and efficiently collecting these outstanding balances is essential for maintaining a positive cash flow and financial stability.

The process begins with establishing clear credit terms with customers. These terms outline the payment due date, any applicable discounts or penalties, and other conditions related to the credit transaction. Once a sale is made, the business generates and sends an invoice to the customer detailing the products/services offered, the amount owed, and the payment due date.

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Examples

Let us look at the accounts receivable collections examples to understand the concept better –

Example #1

Let’s assume Furniture Co., a small-scale furniture manufacturer, supplied a wholesale order to Retail Mart for $8,000. The payment terms specified that the amount should be paid within 45 days.

Furniture Co. sent a friendly reminder as the payment due date approached but received no response. They followed up with a phone call where it was discovered that there was an administrative oversight causing a delay in processing the invoice. Understanding the situation, Furniture Co. worked collaboratively with Retail Mart to expedite payment.

Working together, they agreed to split the payment into two installments, which Retail Mart promptly fulfilled. The swift resolution helped maintain a positive business relationship between Furniture Co. and Retail Mart.

Example #2

SameDay Auto Finance partnered with Skit.ai to revolutionize its collections process. By deploying Skit.ai’s Voice AI solution, they automated 100,000 collection calls, achieving a 36% Right Party Contact (RPC) rate and over 4% Promise-to-Pay (PTP) rate. With increased outreach capabilities and 24/7 campaigns, they bridged the gap between output and agent scarcity.

The solution empowered customers to make payments on their terms, resulting in improved engagement and timely debt resolution. SameDay Auto Finance’s CEO, Russell Warden, praised the impact on revenue recovery and customer experience. Skit.ai’s Augmented Voice Intelligence Platform enabled compliant communications, scalability, and successful engagement with delinquent customers. It showcases how AI optimizes accounts receivable collections, streamlining processes and delivering impressive results.

Best Practices

Compelling accounts receivable collection strategies are crucial for optimizing cash flow and ensuring timely payment. Here are some best practices in accounts receivable collection:

  1. Clear and concise Invoicing: Implementing clear and well-structured invoices with detailed payment terms and due dates is a best practice in accounts receivable collection. It helps minimize confusion and potential payment delays.
  2. Timely and persistent follow-ups: Establishing a systematic follow-up process for overdue payments is crucial. Consistent and polite reminders through various channels, such as email or phone calls, ensure prompt attention to outstanding balances.
  3. Open and effective communication: Maintaining open lines of communication with customers regarding their payment status is essential. Businesses can foster positive relationships and encourage timely payments by proactively addressing concerns and working collaboratively to find solutions.
  4. Establish credit policies: Implementing clear credit policies outlining credit limits, payment terms, and consequences for late payments is recommended. Consistent enforcement of these policies helps promote timely payments and mitigates credit risks.
  5. Regularly monitor aging reports: Reviewing and analyzing accounts receivable aging reports is crucial. It allows businesses to identify delinquent accounts and prioritize collection efforts based on urgency.

How To Improve?

Here are some additional ways to improve accounts receivable collections:

  1. Implement a clear credit policy: Establish a clear credit policy that outlines credit limits, payment terms, and consequences for late or non-payment. Ensure that your customers know these policies from the beginning of the business relationship.
  2. Carry out credit checks: Perform credit checks before providing credit to new customers to evaluate their financial stability and capacity to repay. This practice enables businesses to make well-informed decisions and minimize potential credit risks.
  3. Offer discounts for early payment: Incentivize prompt payment by offering discounts or other benefits for customers who pay their invoices before the due date. It encourages timely payment and improves cash flow.
  4. Set up payment reminders: Use automated systems or software to send payment reminders to customers a few days before the due date. It gives a gentle nudge and helps customers prioritize their payment obligations.
  5. Implement a collection timeline: Create a structured collection timeline that outlines the steps to be taken at specific intervals for overdue accounts. It ensures consistent and timely follow-up with customers who have outstanding balances.
  6. Establish relationships with key accounts: Build strong relationships with key customers by maintaining open lines of communication, understanding their business needs, and addressing any concerns. It fosters goodwill and increases the likelihood of timely payments.
  7. Utilize collection agencies: If internal efforts are not yielding results, consider partnering with professional collection agencies as a last resort. These agencies specialize in debt recovery and have the expertise to handle complex collection cases.
  8. Regularly monitor and analyze accounts receivable: Keep a close eye on the accounts receivable aging report to identify patterns and trends in payment behavior. Analyze the data patterns to identify areas for improvement and take proactive measures to address issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the difference between accounts receivable vs. collections?

Accounts receivable represents the outstanding amounts owed to a business, while collections collect those amounts from customers who have not yet made the required payments. Accounts receivable is a financial metric, while collections are the operational process to manage and collect those receivables.

2. What is the average accounts receivable collection period formula?

The average accounts receivable collection period formula calculates the days a business takes to collect payment from its customers. It helps measure the efficiency of the accounts receivable collection process. The formula is as follows:
Average Accounts Receivable Collection Period = (Average Accounts Receivable / Net Credit Sales) * Number of Days

3. What role does technology play in accounts receivable collections?

Technology plays a significant role in current accounts receivable collections. It enables businesses to automate processes, track and manage receivables efficiently, send electronic invoices, and implement online customer payment options. Advanced analytics and reporting tools provide valuable insights into collection performance and help businesses make data-driven decisions.

This article has been a guide to What Is Accounts Receivable Collections. We explain the concept along with its examples, best practices, and how to improve it. You may also find some useful articles here –

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