5 Tips to Manage Your Accounts Receivable in the Holiday Season
You tend to experience some pressure to end the year on a positive financial note, even as you deal with the fact that you have less working days at the end of the year. You probably have fewer staff members in for work both in the week leading up to Christmas, and the week after, as well, and a sometimes a lack of employee focus that comes from the holiday spirit.
Collecting on your accounts receivable can be particularly stressful around the holidays. There are numbers that you need to reach by New Year’s Day, however. You may need to make efforts on your own. But, how do you collect when it’s the holidays? Here are tips to help you get your invoices paid during the holidays.
1. Be Proactive
The month of December calls for a different approach. You need to plan to focus more closely on collecting your dues than in other months of the year, and take more initiative.
You can begin by going over your receivables outstanding, and make calls right away. It’s important to remember that when a debt stays in collection for an extended period of time, your chances of getting paid tend to drop.
It can help to think of ways to speed up collection. You may send a delivery envelope over, or send a messenger in person to pick up the check. If you start early enough and find that your attempts at collecting do not meet with success, you may still have time to send difficult accounts to a collection agency to get paid before Christmas.
2. Get to Know Your Customers Better
It can help to visit with your customers before you actually send out payment requests. You can use the opportunity to talk to them about what business is like. You may find that they have a hard time collecting from their own customers. Gaining an appreciation of your customers’ financial situation can be an effective way to learn how best to proceed.
3. Don’t Forget the Holiday Spirit
The holiday season can be a tough financial time for many businesses. They may be under financial pressure and find it hard to pay what they owe. When you ask to be paid, it’s important to be aware of the fact that it may grate on your debtors’ sensibilities that you should choose to ask them during the holidays. Sprinkling your request with the season’s greetings also shows your appreciation for the customer relationship.
4. Act Early and Quickly
If your visit to a customer helps you learn that they are in poor financial shape, you need to act immediately. While it may seem like a nice thing to do to wait till January to begin pressing them to pay, it’s important to remember that you go further back in line the longer you wait. Your customers probably have limited funds, and they will use them to pay whoever is the most insistent. It’s important to begin asking to be paid as early as possible.
5. Offer Payment Options
Three out of four people in America put at least some of their holiday debt on credit cards. If customers who owe you payments don’t have money in the bank to pay you with, they may not be able to write checks out to you. It can help to be flexible and to accept credit card payments if such payments are forthcoming.
The Bottom Line
Getting your customers to pay you can be tough during the holidays. You need to make plans for how to go about it, and take steps. Asking for payment doesn’t make you the Grinch, however. If you go about it nicely, it only makes you a responsible business owner who needs to make ends meet.
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