Thursday, May 22, 2014

Collecting Foreign Receivables

Expanding your business into foreign markets is exciting, gut wrenching, heartbreaking, and exhilarating.  Sometimes all at the same time.

When selling into foreign markets, most Canadian businesses do not ship goods until the purchaser has provided a Letter of Credit. Another option to ensure payment is trade credit insurance. Trade credit insurance pays you for your receivable in the event your foreign customer fails to remit. Some trade credit insurers include:

Euler Hermes

At Priority Credit, we work with clients who have foreign receivables not covered by insurance. And we work for the insurance companies themselves.

Recently a client from Montreal retained our services to collect a receivable from a customer based in Portugal. After several attempts through our Portuguese- speaking collectors, it became obvious that the Portuguese debtor was not willing to negotiate in good faith.

Through our active involvement with the International Association of Commercial Collectors (IACC), our firm was able to transfer our client’s receivable to a trusted IACC business partner in Portugal. Our Portuguese agent was able to “bring the fight” to the foreign customers doorstep and successfully negotiated a repayment schedule which recently resulted in the account being paid. 

Our agent wire transferred EURO to our trust account and Priority Credit converted the payment to Canadian dollars and remitted to our client.

If your firm has slow-paying international accounts receivables and you are not sure what to do, we recommend retaining an IACC member agency. IACC member agencies are carefully vetted for their strict compliance to local laws and bonding requirements. In addition to IACC membership, we further recommend retaining an agency that employs IACC Certified Collectors

Agency employees that maintain their professional designation are very serious about their careers- and your money. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cash Flow is King

The number one mandate of any business is to survive. This mandate supersedes any other.  An organization must generate enough cash flow to meet its obligation such as payroll, taxes, and payment to trade suppliers and avoid being insolvent.

During negotiations with many debtor companies, the #1 response we typically hear is “We had tons of orders- I don’t understand why I’m in trouble”.  These “successful” business people become insolvent because they simply didn't have enough cash to meet operating expenses, including the added cash requirement that increased sales generates. Without adequate cash planning these debtor companies were not capable of meeting payroll and the purchase of raw materials to meet the sales demand.

With any business the cash cycle looks like this:

Cash is used to buy raw materials or pay for services rendered in the production of the final product or service. The sale of the goods or services produces cash and accounts receivables. When customers pay their bills, the accounts receivable goes down and the bank balance increases. Unfortunately the cash doesn't usually come in the same month as the sales generates.

If a business finds itself short of cash, the options are:

  •       The owner can inject more cash into the business.
  •       The business can use a pre-existing bank line of credit.
  •       The business can slow its payments to trade suppliers.
  •       Sale of fixed assets.
  •             Sale of non-current inventory.
  •             Issuance of company stock.

One of the easiest methods of raising some fast cash flow is to ensure you are collecting money from your credit customers in a timely matter. Your collection efforts should include a systematic and consistent follow-up. This is vital to the establishment in the credibility of your credit terms in the minds of your customers. Time is of the essence when credit and collections are concerned. To be effective one must follow-up diligently. An accurate, timely report of your aged trial balances is crucial to the efficient control of collections and release of new orders.

Putting a customer’s order on credit hold is an excellent way to get their attention. Prompt contact with your customer in a professional, tactful manner usually produces the desired effect. Make sure you respond quickly when your customer pays his account to make sure there are no delays with their next order.