With a little under a month before the UK goes to the polls - again - following PM Theresa May’s snap general election call, it is difficult to know on what ‘issues’ the public will be basing their votes.

Such has been the mad scramble caused by the election call, the major political parties have not yet even got round to publishing their manifestos - even the Tories, it seems, were caught on the hop by their leader’s out-of-leftfield decision.

One issue we’re sure all small business owners would like to see feature prominently is so-called late payment culture.

Published in Credit Control

Irish courts are experiencing sharp spike in the number of cases linked to international debt collection. A recent flurry of media coverage has brought attention to the operations of so-called ‘vulture funds’ as they apparently step up debt recovery in Ireland.

Vulture funds are financial organisations such as investment trusts, private equity firms and hedge funds which look for opportunities to make a profit from debt collection. They buy up debts at a discounted rate from organisations which no longer wish to be liable for them and then seek to recover more than they paid.

The scourge of unpaid invoices threatening the survival of small and medium sized businesses is an international problem. In Australia, things have got so bad that some companies are turning to desperate debt collection methods to try to recover money owed to them.

As a new report revealed that the average Australian business is typically owed £23,000 in outstanding invoices, one industry spokesman suggested hard pressed firms are ready to return to an old and infamous solution - biker gangs.

When Tesco was exposed for its long payment delays, it exposed an ugly trend among large businesses: delay, delay and delay some more, until your supplier is on its knees. And while the supermarket provided an extreme example of this unethical practice, a shockingly large percentage of global businesses see late payment to suppliers as a “fact of life”.

Published in Credit Control

When you sign up a new customer or client, it’s tempting to skip the formalities. New customers are always keen and it seems like nothing can go wrong. The last thing you want to do is sour the relationship, or risk losing a client to a competitor. If you ask for a deposit, are you at risk of scaring them away?

In truth, most businesses are used to paying deposits especially if they are dealing with freelancers or micro businesses, and there are plenty of good reasons that you should ask for one.

Published in Credit Control

Where do small businesses turn for help when they suffer due to late payment? Under new government plans, there could soon be a Small Business Conciliation Service tasked with tackling that precise problem.

That's not its official name as yet - and in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking you already know of a 'conciliation service' for small business disputes, in the form of mediation.

Published in Debt Collection

This Saturday December 6th is Small Business Saturday, an annual initiative to support small businesses throughout the UK, and it's not just about visiting your local independent gift shop.

Much of the focus will be on the nation's high streets and town centres, where free parking and special offers will encourage many people to finish off their Christmas shopping at small independent retailers.

Published in Credit Control

The payment practices of the UK's biggest companies have been under scrutiny for a while now, with voluntary efforts such as the Prompt Payment Code attracting criticism for being 'toothless' in terms of enforcement action.

Meanwhile though, nobody really wants to see a situation where it is mandatory to take late payers to court, or to enforce penalties and interest - after all, sometimes you might simply want to extend the deadline as a gesture of good faith to a valued customer.

Published in Credit Control

We all know healthy cash flow is the life blood of any small business, but when your cash flow is interrupted, survival depends on having funds in reserve - and the same is true of your customers.

So it helps to know how many small businesses out there have savings set aside 'for a rainy day', and how many would be unable to pay you if their own income was interrupted.

The figures don't make for encouraging reading - according to a report from British personal and commercial banking providers Aldermore, fewer than one in three businesses have a savings account at all.

Of those that do, 21% have less than £5,000 saved, and 7% have nothing at all.

Published in Credit Control

Safe Collections is proud to announce that we are now the official Debt Recovery partner of Halton Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

 

Published in About Safe Collections

A publicly accessible database of company directorships could soon become a reality, following the conclusion of a consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The proposals outline plans for a central registry of company beneficial ownership information - including details of trustees, where relevant, and of individuals with ownership of more than 25% of the shares in a company, or the equivalent proportion of its voting rights.

Published in Credit Control

Many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the UK are effectively being forced to loan money to large firms interest-free, according to the Federation of Small Businesses.

In one of a pair of landmark reports issued since the beginning of the year, the FSB warns that late payments and unreasonable renegotiation of payment terms is taking money out of the hands of SMEs, and allowing it to languish for longer in the accounts of the nation's largest corporations.

Published in Credit Control

The Experian Late Payment Index published on Monday shows again that the bigger a company is, the later it is likely to pay its suppliers, making for a timely reminder of the true nature of 'brand power' and its potential negative impact on small companies' cash flow.

In the third quarter of 2013, the smallest firms, with just one or two employees, paid an average of 20.62 days beyond agreed terms on overdue invoices - the smallest delay among UK companies of all sizes, and a slight improvement from 20.78 days in the previous quarter.

Published in Credit Control

It's good to know that, when a dodgy dealer makes off with client money and there's no record of where it's gone, they will face prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

New figures from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills show that the BIS Criminal Enforcement Team achieved 198 successful prosecutions in the 2012-13 financial year.

Published in Credit Control

Late payment of invoices is now - for the first time in recent years - the single greatest risk to creditors, even outranking debtor insolvency in a report from credit risk insurer Coface UK.

According to the insurer, 60% of the claims it received in the first nine months of 2013 arose due to "a customer's protracted default" - that is, either late or non-payment.

Published in Credit Control

Britain's small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute some 99.9% to the private sector - but are facing losses of around £3.7 billion due to poor credit control and debt collection processes.

A report from Exact, a provider of business and finance software, tallies up the costs of non-payment to UK SMEs, with some fairly alarming figures for individual examples of unpaid invoices.

Published in Credit Control

The world of credit control brings to mind the infamous Donald Rumsfeld quote:

"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know."

Admittedly he was talking about weapons of mass destruction, but the same applies to your customers' financial situations, and effective credit control eliminates as much of the 'unknown' as possible, and maximises the 'known knowns'.

Published in Credit Control

Whether you're in business on your own, or part of a company, it's essential to protect your income - and one of the greatest areas of risk is when you extend a line of credit to a customer.

Remember, any time you carry out work, or provide goods or services, without taking payment upfront, you effectively become a creditor.

That means you need to think carefully about several different factors, for instance:

Published in Guides

Making sure you get paid promptly every time, without fail, is about more than just issuing invoices promptly (although that can help).

There are several ways to increase your chance of receiving payment in full and on time - and here are some of the main points to consider.

Published in Guides

Business overdrafts have been called the 'hidden credit crunch' following the news that while traditional bank business loans have fallen 9% in the past two years, the banks have called in 23% of overdrafts in the same period.

The figures come from a report by finance providers LDF, who say traditional bank business loans fell from £187 billion to £170 billion in the two years to March 2014, while overdrafts fell from £18.2 billion to £14.1 billion.

Published in Credit Control

When working with clients who are based overseas, there are several things you should take into account - ideally, from the moment you begin working for them, rather than later in the process when you encounter a previously unconsidered obstacle.

Here are some of the main issues at hand, and how you can work around them, or even with them, to make the best possible client relationship.

Published in Guides

Whether you're in business on your own, or part of a company, it's essential to protect your income - and one of the greatest areas of risk is when you extend a line of credit to a customer.

Remember, any time you carry out work, or provide goods or services, without taking payment upfront, you are effectively investing in your customers company.

Published in Guides

The government's much-anticipated Business Bank got a kickstart of its own in the 2013 Budget, with the news that at least some of its measures are due to be introduced ahead of schedule.

But while a £300 million investment programme for SMEs was officially launched on April 10th by business secretary Vince Cable, just how far does it go to give small businesses the boost they need to grease the wheels of the UK's jammed economy?

Published in Credit Control

A married couple and their son have been banned as company directors after failing to pay more than £186,000 in tax.  Heather & Lance Shepherd and their son James Shepherd, who ran a company called Shepherd Security Ltd in Preston have been disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 15 years following an investigation by the insolvency service.

Published in Credit Control

The Institute of Credit Management (ICM) and business minister Michael Fallon have warned that it is "crazy" to fail to credit check new and existing customers.

Each month, the ICM publishes a new top tip to help safeguard small businesses' cash flow, and at the end of January its latest advice, written in collaboration with Mr Fallon, was released.

Published in Credit Control

Cash flow is king. Profit is sanity. Turnover is vanity. Cash flow is the lifeblood of every business and ensuring it flows freely is essential.  Read a sample of our free guide to credit control below, authored by our very own Sid Home MICM and request a copy of the full and unabridged version free.

Published in Credit Control

Many businesses involved in the retail and supply sectors find the run up to the festive period can be the businest and potentially most profitable time of the year.  But it can also be one of the most difficult times of year to keep a healthy cash flow as it's not only legitimate businesses that are gearing up for a bumper holiday period; fraudsters are also busily laying the foundations for a variety of Christmas cons that could leave many already struggling companies out in the cold come January.

Published in Credit Control

We regularly speak to Freelancers and Contractors who are uncertain on how to handle the credit control process after an invoice has been issued.  Credit Control (occasionally called "Dunning") is no black art and it is simply a mix of common sense and a considered approach to ensuring any monies are paid in full and on time.

Below you will find an easy to understand infographic outlining a suggested process for any contractor issuing invoices on 30 day terms.  If your business terms are longer or shorter then just adjust the steps below to suit your client.

Published in Credit Control

Superman is BACK with the cinematic release of Man of Steel, and it got us to thinking about whether or not the Kryptonian comicbook hero would be a worthy addition to the Safe Collections team.

We know he'd be a bit unpredictable - always nipping off into the nearest phone booth or flying off to save the world - but given that he'd be saving our skins in the process, we're willing to make some allowances.

Published in Debt Collection

SMEs in the north-east are stop-gapping their cash flow problems by turning to pawnbrokers, according to a report in local news publication The Journal.

With bank lending hard to come by and many other conventional forms of finance also suffering during the downturn, sole traders and SMEs are taking desperate measures to cover costs.

Published in Debt Collection

Some of the most desirable fashion brands make less desirable customers, due to poor payment practices and frequent late payment, according to an industry news provider.

Business of Fashion spoke to several budding young designers about their experiences of supplying retailers within the UK and abroad - and found widespread unrest about the likelihood of being paid on time, in full and in line with agreed terms.

Published in Debt Collection

Now we know that Debt Collection and Debt Recovery don’t have the best reputation in business markets, this is one of the reasons we take pride in displaying a small selection of the hundreds of client testimonials we have received over the last 30 years over on our testimonials page.

Nothing usual in that you may be thinking, but have you noticed that unlike some other agencies all of our references are clearly attributable to both a named company and an individual within that company?

Published in Debt Collection

When late payment goes beyond the limits of amicable pursuit, and it becomes apparent that the funds will never be willingly forthcoming, the remaining option is to go to court, in order to force the debtor to pay.

Depending on how much you are owed, you may be able to do this in small claims court, or you might have to launch more formal legal proceedings, which are likely to prove more expensive.

Published in Debt Collection
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