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Optimizing Your Cash Flow With Proper Accounts Receivable Management

Businesses miss on growth opportunities and even close their doors every day, not because they aren’t profitable enough, but because they are strangled by poor cash flow. The problem is that while their profit and loss statement shows success, their bank account cries poor. Excessive money tied up in delinquent receivables, bad checks, and bad debt write-offs, rob businesses of valuable cash flow, handcuffing their ability to grow or even stay in business at all.

It doesn’t take long for a business to get caught up in a spiraling trend of increasingly late receivables, only needing a few additional delinquent accounts to start the process. Most companies lack the expertise and manpower needed to handle a spike in delinquent accounts. Soon, their staff is doing more work chasing late receivables, and they end up neglecting the easier to collect, more current accounts. Eventually, a higher and higher percentage of accounts become delinquent and more and more accounts become uncollectible, forcing companies to employ expensive collection agencies to recover at least some of their money at a big loss or they write off the debt completely. The end result is a loss in profitability and a serious strain on cash flow.

There are some more obvious, common sense practices that companies can employee to maintain a healthy accounts receivable portfolio. A few examples include:

1. Perform a credit history check before extending credit.

2. Set and adhere to credit limits.

3. Establish your credit terms in writing on statements and invoices

4. Require all sales and money management staff to know and follow credit policies.

As for maintaining or restoring a healthy accounts receivable portfolio, companies may need to invest in additional personnel or outside services with expertise in delinquent debt collection. If a company’s receivables are large enough and they have a budget which allows them to add experienced, full-time debt collectors to their staff, they should make the investment in additional personnel. If a company can’t afford it or their delinquent receivables don’t require full-time attention, outsourcing would be a better alternative. Which ever method is best for you, cash flow maintenance is critical to maintaining your company's financial health. Make sure that you have a comprehensive plan in place to keep your company going in the right direction.

Marc Eskew is business consultant located in the Tampa Bay area. For more information on preventative maintenance approach to accounts receivable management or to contact Mr. Eskew, please visit

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