The changing landscape of Credit Control in Menzies LLP post Covid – Guest Blog
10 September 2020
Just as we have all had to adjust in our personal lives so has the way we credit manage our clients here at Menzies LLP.
It has long been said that “cash is king”, and it most certainly is. In the first week of lockdown, with all our offices closed due to the impact of COVID-19, the spotlight had never shined so brightly on our department – cash collection was high on the agenda and rightly so.
Extended goodwill has helped to maintain our relationships with clients, they have really appreciated the support we have offered and this has been validated by clients making good on their settlement promises.
Our objective is to obtain settlement in a timely manner, however, in these trying times, this has been a challenge. You cannot help but empathise with your client’s predicaments, however, you do also need to be mindful that some people may use these circumstances as an opportunity to not pay when they are perfectly able to do so. Knowing your clients and their supply chain offers you some valuable insight.
With things gradually calming, and people slowly returning to the workplace, our approach has adapted once again. Extended terms do have their limitations. As a business ourselves, we too need to manage our cashflow. We have become more expectant of firm commitments to settle our fees. Where a client has been unresponsive to our contact and completely disengaged, we are taking firmer action. It is also more common lately that clients are scrutinising all their charges.
We have seen evidence in house that issuing Letter’s Before Action have had a positive impact for the business. 75% of letters issued have resulted in full settlement within the 7-day deadline and we have received a 100% response rate. These letters act as a valuable tool which provide a much-needed nudge to prompt clients to engage. As common courtesy, prior to issuing any letters, we do make clients aware that further action will be the next stage, so it does not come as a total surprise.
What has assisted us with securing settlement?
- Resolving disputes promptly. Disputes are too often used as an excuse for non-payment. It’s crucial that if you do take further action that all disputes are resolved, otherwise you run the risk of incurring legal fees you cannot recoup.
- Being commercially aware. We pay attention to news features and external factors so that we can act quickly and minimise our risk.
- Payment plans have increased by at least 40%. There is some comfort knowing you are receiving a contribution in the interim.
- Discussing collection strategies with the relationship partners and working collaboratively.
- Taking a firmer approach when all other avenues have been exhausted.
The future is hard to predict but we do know there is more uncertainty ahead. Once the Government support measures end, businesses will be re-evaluating their position and restructuring may be the only option. Credit Management remains an important activity in any business, adapting to change will enhance your collection skills and in turn minimise bad debts.
Author: Orla Lynch, Senior Credit Controller, Menzies LLP
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