If desk time is a rarity in your line of business, you’ll know the growing frustration of watching your invoices to customers fatten the overdue columns in your books, while you remain knee-deep in the trenches (maybe literally). But bills need to be paid. And you need to be paid. So how can busy business owners release the handbrake of late paying customers and push the accelerator on payments, when they’re never hands-free?

Technology is the obvious answer here. In particular, automation solutions that take the pain out of processing tasks are making a big difference to business owners who are time poor, and simply need to get paid. Here are 6 technology tips to help your invoicing and collections processes:

1.Accept online payments

Installing an online payment gateway has never been quicker or cheaper, with plenty of banks and non-banks competing for your business.Collecting money online makes it easy for customers to pay you:

  • Customers can pay by credit card; they don’t need to rely on having cash on hand in order to settle their invoice.
  • You can innovate your payment solutions to customers by offering BPAY or direct options.
  • Your customer can pay at the moment they are engaged with your invoice or even your video—Pay Now buttons means they are one-click away from transacting with you.

2. Automate Payment Reminders

One of the most laborious (if not hated) tasks in accounts receivable management is sending payment reminders. Even 100 overdue invoices per month, requiring two follow-ups each, is 200 reminders that need to be written, sent, replied to and recorded.

A system-generated schedule of reminders basically cuts out this task, even recording the complete history of communications with debtors, collating all overdue invoices into one statement, as well as telling you what debtor actions are coming up. Solutions like ezyCollect report that customers are saving the equivalent  cost of a part-time collections officer by putting reminders on auto-pilot.

3. Slice and dice A/R data

Technology is now presenting your 30, 60 and 90 day overdue columns in your aged receivables report as sexy pie graphs and charts so you can instantly visualise the total amount owing and overdue in your business. Dynamic filters let you slice and dice data so you can find your largest debtor, oldest debtor, all debtors who owe you over $20, 000 etc. In seconds. This is the kind of data that is taking the cloak off hidden debtors and making them visible, so business owners can finally take decisive action.

4. Credit monitoring

Unless you’re spending endless hours at your desk reading reports from ASIC or the financial papers, you’re unlikely to learn about the warning signs of credit default in your customers. Credit monitoring services from national credit reporting bureaus give you real-time alerts when your customer registers a negative activity in the marketplace. You get early warning and can take proactive steps to recover payment, instead of joining the long line of creditors in the administrator’s queue.

5. Use multi-modal communications

If you’re not reaching your overdue customer by every available means…you’re not reaching your customer. Think about all the available modes to communicate with your customer: email, phone, SMS, post, even fax.  Your debtor management system should record all these customer details for you, so when you send your automated reminders, you are utilising every communications technology (perhaps not all at once!) to remind your customer about outstanding payments.

Technology is benefitting business owners who are rarely hands-free by giving them the tools and data to get paid plus the freedom to get on with doing what they do best. And customers win too, with more options to pay, and more face-to-face time with suppliers who are finally free of the desk chains holding them back.