Commercial Collections: Business Finance Booster Shot

By: Jas

If you're in the business-to-business field, or even if you're a consumer products business that works through third-party distribution channels, you probably know what it's like to check your mail anxiously each day, sifting through all the bills for that payment that was supposed to have been in months ago.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. If you were a good, honest businessperson who dealt with other good, honest businesspeople, "commercial collections" wasn't supposed to be part of your vocabulary.

Back in the good old days, an invoice or purchase order that had an established company listed in the "bill to" field was almost as good as a cashier's check. Nowadays, if you're in the business of serving other businesses you may find that your cash flow is less reliable than a small-time bookie's.

Commercial Collections: A Personal Story
This past April I finally got the $2,000 a client owed me for work done in December, after spending almost as much money's worth of my time reminding them to pay.
No, this wasn't one of those hand-shake deals-we had a 5-page contract specifying net-30 payment terms. Nor was this some guy with a lemonade stand. It was the media division of one of the largest retailers in the United States.

The worst part was, I trusted this client based on my experience working with them a few years before. I actually spent the money on Christmas presents, fully expecting the payment to come in before my credit card statement.

Avoiding Outstanding Invoices
Of course, you can nip this problem in the bud by cultivating strong relationships with clients who pay on time. But those clients are getting few and far between-and, as I found, the good can go pretty bad pretty fast.
Worse, it seems that the larger the business, the less likely they are to pay on time. "Net 10 days" might as well be a foreign language in Fortune 500 land. The long-standing advice given to B2B businesses and self-employed people is that the money is in big corporations. But good luck getting it from them before your rent is due.

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