How to Help Your Clients Improve Their Collections Process
As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor®, we often are searching for new and innovative ways we can use to help streamline our clients or even strengthen our own processes. But, let’s face it: when it comes to collections, this often falls below the wayside.
Last month while I was at one of my clients doing the typical review of the company’s QuickBooks® file, the client was expressing that money was tight. Typically, cash flow was never an issue, but due to the changing economy, he was seeing a drastic change in his Accounts Receivable. He approached me to implement some new procedures to streamline his collection process. He felt as if he was not using the full functionality of the QuickBooks program.
As I began the assessment of the client’s procedures, it was important to understand their system versus how they were using QuickBooks. During the interview process, I inquired as to how they were collecting money, how often they invoiced, what their payment terms were, when they were reviewing collection reports, how frequently they were making collection calls and what their documentation process was. What I concluded from the answers I received was that the client needed to fully use QuickBooks in order to improve his overall Accounts Receivable process.
As I dug deeper into my investigation, I discovered that the client was already using QuickBooks Merchant Services, but had not set up the recurring payments to automatically process through Intuit® Merchant Services in order to get the money in more quickly. I recommended implementing the Billing Solutions Feature in order to simplify their billing process and get invoicing out quicker. It is a resourceful way to handle the invoicing, and allows the client to get paid faster. Since they were already using QuickBooks Merchant Services, adding in the Billing Solutions Feature simplified the process because all the online payments downloading directly into QuickBooks and automatically matched to the appropriate invoices.
In reviewing their current collection process, I noticed that there wasn’t any consistency; they seemed to make calls when they had the time. In 2011 and up, QuickBooks and Enterprise Solutions includes a “Collection Center.” This was ideally what the client was looking for to handle its collection issue.
The Collection Center allows the client to send bulk emails to its customers with overdue or almost overdue invoices. I demonstrated this feature to the client by opening the customer center and then clicking the link at the top of the window. There are two tabs, one that shows overdue Customers and the other tab that shows the ones that are almost due.
This demonstration impressed upon the client that the company was not limited in who it could send bulk emails to because it could send emails from either the Overdue or Almost due list. They had the ability to sort the list by the Customer Name, Customer Balance or Days Overdue. The Collection Center is in a centralized location where you can access the customers Contact information, as well as document phone conversations by writing notes about the collection calls and date stamping them.
The feature that the client liked most in the Collection Center was the fact they could select which customers received an email by clicking the checkbox to the left of the invoice number. Selected invoices are then attached as PDF files to email and a customized email message is already in template form. No more saving invoices one by one to a PDF and inserting it into an email.
Taking the time to review the client’s current Accounts Receivable process helped them realize areas where they could strengthen their processes and improve collections through QuickBooks. By showing them what the software was capable of, and then implementing just a few small changes within their daily use of QuickBooks – such as changing the use of the recurring payments transactions, implementing Billing Solutions and using the Collection Center – helped to put a simplified process in place to be able to collect the money they needed to run the organization and reduced their Accounts Receivable, significantly!