In the realm of finance, credit control plays a crucial role in managing and maintaining a healthy cash flow within a business. At the heart of this function lies the credit control clerk, a vital position responsible for ensuring timely payments, minimising bad debt, and safeguarding the financial stability of an organisation. This article explores the role of a credit control clerk and highlights their contributions to the success of businesses across various industries.
1. Managing Credit
One of the primary responsibilities of a credit control clerk is managing credit for the company. This entails assessing creditworthiness, establishing credit limits, and monitoring credit accounts. By carefully evaluating customer credit applications, the credit control clerk helps minimise the risk of potential bad debts and protects the company’s financial interests.
2. Payment & Debt Collection
A credit control clerk serves as the frontline representative for the organisation when it comes to debt collection. They proactively communicate with customers, reminding them of outstanding payments and negotiating suitable payment arrangements. Their persistent efforts help improve cash flow, reduce the average collection period, and ensure that overdue accounts are brought to resolution promptly.
3. Relationship Building
Effective credit control is not solely about numbers; it also relies on building and maintaining strong relationships with customers. A credit control clerk acts as a liaison between the organisation and its clients, fostering positive connections and enhancing customer satisfaction by responding promptly to invoice queries. By nurturing these relationships, they encourage prompt payment and create a favourable credit environment that supports long-term partnerships.
4. Risk Assessment and Reporting
Credit control clerks are responsible for analysing and assessing credit risks within the business. They continuously evaluate the financial stability of customers, monitor credit trends, and identify potential issues that may affect payment performance. Through detailed reporting, credit control clerks provide valuable insights to management, enabling informed decision-making regarding credit policy adjustments, debt write-offs, and risk mitigation strategies.
5. Compliance and Legal Procedures
Maintaining compliance with relevant laws and regulations is vital for any business. Credit control clerks ensure that all debt collection practices adhere to legal guidelines, including fair debt collection practices and data protection laws. They possess a deep understanding of the legal frameworks and work closely with legal departments or external agencies if necessary, protecting the company from legal complications and maintaining a professional and ethical approach to credit management.
The role of a credit control clerk within a business is indispensable. By managing all areas of the credit and debt collection process, they play a crucial part in maintaining a healthy financial ecosystem. Their efforts contribute to sustained cash flow, reduced bad debt, improved customer relationships, and overall business growth. As businesses continue to navigate financial challenges, credit control clerks remain an essential asset, safeguarding the financial stability and success of organisations in various industries.
Invoicing is a critical aspect of running any business. However, it is not uncommon for businesses to experience the pain of unpaid invoices. This can result in finance teams getting stuck in the (what feels like) a never ending loop of invoice chasing. In this article, we will discuss what you as a business can do if you have unpaid invoices from your customers.
Firstly, it is important to understand why customers fail to pay invoices. Some reasons include disputes over the quality of goods or services rendered, customers experiencing financial difficulties, or administrative errors in the invoicing process. Whatever the reason, unpaid invoices can have a significant impact on a business’s cash flow and overall financial health. This is especially true for small businesses that rely on timely payments to stay afloat and manage cash flow.
To avoid the negative impact of unpaid invoices, businesses can take the following steps:
- Communicate clearly with customers
Clear communication is essential when it comes to invoicing. Businesses should clearly communicate their payment terms to customers, including payment due dates and any penalties for late payment. This can be done through email, phone calls, video calls or in-person meetings.
- Set up a system for tracking invoices
Businesses should have a system in place to track their invoices. This will help them identify any unpaid invoices and take action quickly. A system could include an Excel spreadsheet or an invoicing software. Invoicing software will also allow you to automate the process of chasing invoices when they fall overdue.
- Follow up on invoices promptly
It is important for businesses to follow up on invoices promptly. This could involve sending reminders to customers before the payment due date, or contacting them immediately after the due date has passed. This will help to ensure that customers are aware of their payment obligations and are more likely to pay on time. Again, if you are using invoice software then you may be able to automate this process.
- Be polite but firm
When following up on unpaid invoices, businesses should be polite but firm. It is important to maintain a good relationship with customers, but at the same time, businesses should be clear about their expectations and the consequences of non-payment. This could involve sending a polite reminder email or making a phone call to the customer.
- Remove barriers to collecting payment
Ensure it’s as easy as possible for your customers to make payment. Limiting the channels and time windows that customers can make payment can have an impact on your rate of collection. Consider providing your customers with an online card payment facility so that they can log on and make payment in their own time.
- Consider offering payment plans
In some cases, customers may be experiencing financial difficulties and may be unable to pay the full amount owed. In such cases, businesses could consider offering payment plans. This would involve agreeing on a payment schedule that works for both parties, allowing the customer to pay the debt over a longer period of time.
- Consider enlisting the services of a debt collection agency
If all other attempts to collect unpaid invoices have failed, businesses may consider enlisting the services of a debt collection agency. These agencies specialize in recovering unpaid debts and can help businesses recover the money owed to them. However, it is important to note that debt collection agencies charge a fee for their services, which can be significant.
By taking the above steps, you can increase your chances of receiving payment for goods or services rendered and ensure your financial stability.
In today’s fast-paced world, customers expect to make transactions quickly and conveniently. For businesses, having a reliable and efficient payment system is crucial. EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) card machines are an important component of this system. In this article, we will explore what an EPOS card machine is, how it works, and what costs to consider.
What is an EPOS Card Machine?
An EPOS card machine is an electronic device that enables businesses to accept payments from customers using credit or debit cards. These machines are commonly used in retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses where face-to-face transactions take place.
EPOS card machines are designed to be user-friendly, making it easy for customers to enter their payment details and for businesses to process the transaction. They are usually connected to a payment processing network, which verifies the payment and transfers the funds to the merchant’s account.
How do EPOS Card Machines Work?
EPOS card machines work by communicating with the payment processing network to authorize and process transactions. When a customer makes a payment, they will insert their card into the card reader or tap it against the contactless payment terminal. The machine will then connect to the payment processing network to verify the payment details and transfer the funds.
EPOS card machines can be connected to a variety of payment processing networks, including banks, payment service providers, and card payment schemes like Visa and Mastercard.
Many card machines also offer additional features, such as the ability to print receipts or integrate with other business systems like a point of sale (POS) terminal or a cloud software system such as a web portal.
What costs are there to consider when getting an EPOS card machine?
When choosing an EPOS card machine, there are several costs to consider. These include:
- Purchase or Rental Costs – EPOS card machines can be purchased outright or rented on a monthly basis. The cost will depend on the features of the machine, the brand, and the supplier.
- Transaction Fees – Merchant gateway and account providers typically charge a fee for each transaction processed. The fee will vary depending on the network and the type of card used for the transaction. For example, debit card transactions may have lower fees than credit card transactions. International cards also tend to incur higher fees than domestic cards.
- Monthly Fees – Some suppliers may charge a monthly fee for the use of their EPOS card machine. This fee may cover maintenance and support, as well as software updates and other features. There may also be monthly fees payable to your merchant account and gateway providers.
- Installation and Training Costs – If the EPOS card machine requires installation or training, there may be additional costs to consider. Some suppliers may offer installation and training services for a fee.
EPOS card machines are an essential tool for businesses that want to accept electronic face to face payments from customers. They offer a fast, secure, and reliable way to process transactions and can be customized to suit the needs of different businesses. When choosing an EPOS card machine, it’s important to consider the costs involved, including purchase or rental costs, transaction fees, monthly fees, and installation and training costs. By carefully weighing these factors, businesses can choose the right EPOS card machine for their needs and ensure that they are getting the best value for their money.
As a supplier, you rely on timely payment of invoices to keep your business running smoothly. Late payment of commercial debts can cause cash flow problems, which in turn can lead to other issues such as difficulty in paying suppliers or staff, and even risking going out of business. Fortunately, the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Interest Act 1998 (LPCDIA) was introduced to help address this issue.
In this article, we’ll explore what the LPCDIA is, how it works, and how you as a supplier can use it to chase late payments.
What is the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Interest Act 1998?
The LPCDIA is a piece of UK legislation that was introduced to tackle the issue of late payment of commercial debts. The act applies to all commercial contracts, including contracts between businesses and between businesses and public authorities such as councils and government. It provides suppliers with a statutory right to claim interest on late payments, as well as a fixed sum to cover the cost of recovering the debt.
How does the Late Payment Act work?
Under the LPCDIA, if a customer fails to pay an invoice on time, the supplier is entitled to claim interest on the amount owed. The interest rate is currently 8% above the Bank of England base rate, and accrues daily from the day after the payment is due. This means that the longer the payment is overdue, the more interest the supplier is entitled to claim.
In addition to interest, the supplier can also claim a fixed sum to cover the cost of recovering the debt. The amount of the fixed sum depends on the amount owed, as follows:
- £40 for debts up to £1,000
- £70 for debts between £1,000 and £10,000
- £100 for debts over £10,000
These fixed sums are intended to cover the supplier’s reasonable costs in chasing the debt, such as sending reminder letters or engaging a debt recovery agency.
How can suppliers use the LPCDIA as part of their cash collection process?
If you are a supplier who is struggling to collect payment from a customer, the LPCDIA can be a useful tool to help you chase the debt. Here are some steps you can take to use the act as part of your cash collection process:
- Check your payment terms
Before you can use the LPCDIA to claim interest and fixed costs, you need to make sure that your payment terms comply with the act. The act requires payment to be made within 30 days of receipt of an invoice, unless you have agreed different payment terms in writing with your customer.
- Send reminder letters
If a payment is overdue, the first step is to send a reminder letter to the customer. This letter should set out the amount owed, the date the payment was due, and a reminder that interest and fixed costs will be added if the payment is not made within a certain timeframe. You can also use this letter to request payment by a specific date. This doesn’t have to be a written or printed letter, and can be sent via email.
- Engage a debt recovery agency
If the customer still fails to pay, you may need to engage a debt recovery agency to help you chase the debt. The cost of this service can be added to the fixed sum you can claim under the LPCDIA.
- Claim interest and fixed costs
If the debt remains unpaid, you can claim interest and fixed costs under the LPCDIA. This can be done through the courts or by using a debt recovery agency. The interest and fixed costs will be added to the amount owed by the customer.
The Late Payment of Commercial Debts Interest Act 1998 provides suppliers with a valuable tool to help them chase late payments from customers. By claiming interest and fixed costs, suppliers can recover some of the costs associated with chasing a debt, and discourage customers from paying late in future.
Cash collection is usually the responsibility of the accounts or credit control department within a business. However, aged debts can soon mount up if the process of collecting payments is difficult or the ability for customers to make a payment is difficult.
Below are four tips on how you can improve your cash collection and reduce the amount of aged debt within your business.
Remove barriers to making payment
Make it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you. Having too many barriers can cause delays in collecting payments. Telephone numbers where no-one answers or they need to wait on hold are examples of where customers can become impatient and ultimately choose to delay payment.
Increase the payment methods you accept
You may be already taking online payments, but expanding your available payment methods will increase conversion. Do you currently only accept debit card? Could you accept Credit Cards and even Amex cards or Direct Debit. Offer your customers a range of options when it comes to making payment.
Take payments 24/7
Having the ability to pay 24/7 is vital for some businesses, especially for those where their typical customer profile is of those that could potentially make payment any time of day or night. For example, a plumber or electrician out on the tools all day may only have the evenings or weekends available to them to pay their bills to their suppliers. Therefore, providing your customers with a facility to make a payment any time of day will help reduce barriers to payment.
Take payments online
An online payment page, whether standalone or embedded into your website will help your customers as this achieves all of the above. It removes barriers as customers can pay easily without fuss or having to call a number. It increases the payment methods you accept as with online payments, you can offer your customers a range of card types such as debit card, credit card and other such as American Express. Taking online payments also allows your customers to make a payment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, thus removing the limitations of an ‘office hours only’ service.
Online payments are a big part of modern commerce today, from buying products via e-commerce websites to setting up direct debits at the click of a button to initiate regular payments.
There are many ways that online payments can be integrated into your website, and in this article we will briefly outline these and state the advantages of each.
The simplest way to integrate online payments into your website is through a straightforward payment button. This allows you to attach an item, set a price and initiate a payment. This can be done using a service such as PayPal, where you create a button within your account and set the item description and the amount. When the customer clicks the button, they are immediately directed to PayPal to make the payment.
Payment buttons are limited though. You can’t dynamically set amounts and item information, you need to create a button for every item you wish to.
Payment Gateway Integration
A payment gateway is a service that allows card details to be entered and processed by communicating with a bank or merchant to validate and complete the payment. Payment gateways normally need to be provided with some basic information about the transaction, such as the amount to be paid and an email address where a receipt can be sent.
Integrating a payment gateway would normally involve your web developer creating a page on your website that can communicate with your payment gateway to complete the transaction flow. However, if you use e-commerce platforms such as Woocommerce (via WordPress) or Shopify then payment gateway integrations are usually available out of the box.
Customer Payment Page
A customer payment page is a page that integrates into your website where customers can enter the details of a transaction such as the amount they wish to pay, their account number and an invoice number. This then proceeds to a payment gateway page where the customer enters their card details to complete the payment.
A customer payment page is a useful tool to allow businesses to collect payments from their customers 24/7.
What is MOTO?
To put simply, MOTO stands for Mail Order Telephone Order. This is where payments are taken from a customer where the card nor the customer themselves are present. An example of where a MOTO payment would be taken is a customer calling up a supplier to provide card details over the phone to pay for a product or service.
How are MOTO payments taken?
There are two main ways to take MOTO payments. One is via a PDQ terminal, where the person taking the payment would key in the card details into the PDQ terminal as the customer relays them on the call.
Another way is via a Virtual Terminal. This is a browser based web form that allows the person taking the payment to enter the card details into the form and process the payment in real time. Most Payment Gateway providers offer a Virtual terminal service as part of their service, so as well as being able to take MOTO payments, you can also utilise the Payment Gateway account to handle online payments via your website.
Are MOTO payments secure?
The method of card entry itself is usually secure, whether this be via a PDQ terminal or a Virtual Terminal. However, it’s important to consider the method by which card details are relayed, which is via telephone. You may need to consider ensuring that your phone lines are secure and aren’t at risked of being ‘tapped’ so that cyber criminals can intercept the card data being relayed over the call.
What are the drawbacks of MOTO?
Whilst MOTO payments are still a common method of collecting payments, they do still come with their drawbacks. Firstly, it involves a physical human to take the phone call and collect the card details from the customer. Whilst this may be a quick process in the grand scheme of things, it does still involve the time of an employee and the costs associated with that. Compare that with online payments, where a customer can log on and self-serve to make a payment, thus saving the time it would take to collect payment over the phone.
You’re also time limited with MOTO payments. As it involves human interaction over a phone call, the business is usually limited to office hours, which may be an inconvenience to some customers who are unable to call during the day.