Businesses need to spend money in order to make money. But if there’s not enough cash coming in, you won’t be able to hire high-quality employees, take on new jobs, or invest in better equipment.
As a landscaping company, most of your revenue probably comes through accounts receivable. You complete a job, send an invoice, and—eventually—get paid.
The average time it takes your customers to pay an invoice is your days sales outstanding (DSO). The faster your clients pay, the lower your DSO. And the lower your DSO, the healthier your company.
Days sales outstanding is a critical key performance indicator (KPI) because of its impact on cash flow. When weeks—or even months—elapse between job completion and payment, you lose out on valuable time that could be used to grow your business.
If your company struggles to receive payments in a timely fashion, knowing how to fix the problem can prove difficult. After all, once you’ve sent an invoice, what else can you do? While you obviously can’t force customers to pay quicker, reducing DSO isn’t entirely out of your control.
Here are six steps you can take today to get invoices paid faster and increase your cash flow.
Speed up your invoicing process
The first thing to do is evaluate your billing process. How long does it currently take to generate an invoice once a job is finished? You may find you’re losing time before the client even receives their bill.
You can increase efficiency in your accounting department in a variety of ways. For example:
- Standardize workflow processes and train employees on how to use them.
- Look for opportunities to improve interdepartmental relationships and collaboration.
- Set aside blocks of time to handle recurring financial tasks (collecting receipts, managing payroll, etc.) in order to prioritize sending invoices as quickly as possible.
Although it may require an overhaul of existing processes, implementing a software solution is one of the best ways to improve efficiency in billing. And with a fully-integrated business management system, all of your data will be connected—from initial estimates to real-time job costs, upsells, and more.
If your company has limited internal bandwidth, you may also consider outsourcing this aspect of the business to a receivables management service. (Aspire Landscape partners with Altus, a company that offers receivables management and credit reporting.)
Offer multiple payment methods
In today’s online shopping world, your customers expect a seamless digital payment process. Make it as easy as possible for them by offering multiple methods, including credit card and automatic (ACH) payment options.
In addition to pleasing clients, the ability to receive electronic payments also reduces your wait time as funds can be distributed immediately.
Evaluate new customers based on their credit history
When the majority of your revenue comes through accounts receivable, it’s critical to perform credit checks on all new customers.
After all, when you complete work before getting paid, you’re essentially extending credit to your customer. And like anyone in the loan-giving business, you only want to take on an acceptable amount of risk.
A partner credit and collections solution like Altus can help by providing high-level insights from leading credit reporting agencies. You can also run a more comprehensive check on a customer using a service like Experian.
Whatever solution you choose, creating a system for regularly monitoring customers’ credit status can help you stay on top of potential problems before they occur.
Make sure payment terms are clear
When it comes to payment terms, clarity is key. Make sure your customers know when payment is due, how to pay, and the process they should follow if issues arise.
When you tell new clients what to expect long before the first invoice is ever sent, you’re far less likely to get stuck with frustrating delays later on.
Monitor and follow up
What happens once you’ve submitted an invoice? If you haven’t already, create a schedule for following up with clients if their bill goes unpaid. This kind of policy will give your employees the confidence and accountability they need to actively monitor payment statuses.
Maintaining regular, consistent communication presents an organized, professional front to your customers—and gives them an opportunity to share concerns or questions that could be slowing down the process.
If, despite regular follow-ups, non-payment continues, you’ll want to have guidelines in place so your accounting staff knows how and when to escalate the situation.
Make a plan for collections
Occasionally, you may have the unpleasant task of transitioning from follow-up calls to an official collections process.
When this happens, it’s important to have appropriate policies in place. If you plan to handle collection internally, make sure your team has received adequate training and feels equipped to manage the process.
Another benefit to using a receivables management service like Altus is offloading the burden of first- and third-party collection services from your staff. If collection is an issue for your company, having a partner to deal with the headache can be a significant relief for your finance office.
Cash flow is crucial in the fast-paced world of landscaping. If money isn’t coming in, you can’t pay your employees, repair broken equipment, or take on new clients.
With these six strategies, you can cut down on the time it takes to get paid for work you’ve already done—and get on with your day.
Interested in how landscape business management software can help address your DSO woes? Learn how Aspire Landscape’s partnership with Altus Receivables Management can reduce risk and increase cash flow for your business.