5 tips for small business Facebook marketing

facebook marketing small business

As of March 2013 Facebook had 1.11 billion users. No matter how you slice it, that’s a whole lot of people who use Facebook. Honestly, it’s a number that’s hard to wrap your brain around. With a platform like Facebook having that many users it only makes sense to market your business there. There are so many articles about how to market on Facebook, but below are 5 simple tips that will help you start bringing fans to your Facebook page.

Facebook is a wonderful tool to market your business. Even though creating a Facebook page for your business doesn’t cost money, managing it certainly isn’t entirely free. It takes time, effort and possibly a little cash here and there to build a successful fan page on Facebook.

1. Post content regularly:

Just like cleaning the dishes at your house, posting content on Facebook is something you need to do every day. Engagement from your fans is your #1 priority. The key to getting people to visit your Facebook page is to always have new content. From my experience, your daily posts don’t have to be the end all and be all of Facebook posts; they just have to engage the reader. Remember, people are looking for a reason to visit your page. If you don’t have fresh content they will forget about you and move on.

However, there is such a thing as posting too much. Whilst the goal is to have fresh content to show, too many posts will start to seem like spam – both to your followers, and Facebook. Posting multiple times a day could cause Facebook to see you as a spam page, which can result in your page being unpublished. To avoid any potential dramas, try and keep to a schedule of posting regular, engaging content. Striking a happy medium between posting too frequently and too inconsistently is key.

2. Ask questions from your Audience:

This point goes back to reader engagement. Your goal is to open up “two-way” communication. To do this, you want to try and ask some questions that are related to your business that people will also engage with.

For example, if you are a pizza place you could ask your followers what their favourite pizza topping is. If you’re a video game store, you could ask “What’s your favourite video game and why?”. Getting people to interact with you breaks down the “internet wall”. The internet is not a very personable place, and a business page doesn’t seem very inviting on the surface. So, if a fan feels like they know you better or can connect with the interests of the people behind the business, they will feel comfortable on your page and will come back to see what’s going on.

Just like with your content posting, there is such a thing as getting too personal with your audience. Try to keep your business page personable, but not personal. You can definitely post some things that align with both your interests and your audience’s, but keep your business page free of any unnecessary information about yourself. That’s what your personal Facebook profile is for.

3. Use that smartphone and upload some pictures:

People love photos. The attention span of an average Facebook user is very small. The average user scrolls down their Facebook page at a furious pace, often while they’re otherwise unengaged. As such, they’re looking for something to jump out and grab them. Pictures are great because they are easy to consume. They don’t require any reading, have a higher chance of providing short-term enjoyment and people know they don’t have to sacrifice much of their time to view them. All they have to do is click on the photo, then get back to scrolling.

As with all content, try and relate the photos you upload back to your business somehow. Restaurants and cafes can upload mouth-watering photos of their food, whilst stores of all types might use some pictures of new products or even items on sale in order to entice more customers.

This sections reminds me of a quote I once heard. “Facebook is like a fridge. When you’re bored, you keep opening and closing it every few minutes to see if there’s anything good in it.”

4. Contests and Giveaways:

And the winner is… you! Potentially.

People love to win contests. By offering free stuff and prizes it rewards your loyal fans and gets them to post on your page. For example, I’m an avid golfer and a local course I frequent has contests all the time relating to the latest golf tournament going on. Not only do I enjoy watching more because I could win, but I keep going to their website/Facebook page to see where I rank.

Ideally you would offer a prize that is somehow related to your business, but it’s not essential. More generic prizes such as vouchers for supermarkets or department stores, or even useful everyday items such as vacuum cleaners, can generate a lot of buzz. The key is to gear the entry requirements for the contest/giveaway so that it boosts your page reach. The easiest way to do this is by telling people to simply like the page in order to enter. However, if you want to try maximising engagement as well, you can ask people to also comment something as well. This may be why they would like to win, or perhaps what they would use the prize for if they won. Keep in mind that this may limit the page reach numbers you can rake in, but perhaps give you more engaged followers.

5. Build your Marketing Brand and be Consistent:

If you have a store or a website, you need to have a place where people can see your Facebook link and your activity. You can even put live feeds from your Facebook account onto your website! Notifying people that your business is active on social media is key to growing your followers. I’ve even seen it on business cards: “Like us on Facebook.” It’s on commercial websites, political ad campaigns, and just about everything in between. These days, being active on Facebook can be the difference between the success or failure of a business. There is no denying Facebook is here to stay. You need to make sure Facebook is part of both your offline and online marketing campaigns.

5 tips for using Twitter as a small business

twitter marketing small business

Having a social media presence is key in maintaining our present and active brand. And good news, it’s free! All you need to do is set up your social accounts, and you’re ready to connect with a new audience. However, like anything, there’s some strategy involved, the sheer amount of competition for small business on the internet is massive. So, get informed by diving into the deep end.

Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms, and for small businesses, it could be an untapped market. Many small business owners don’t see how Twitter can help them market their business. But many major retailers have already gotten the hang of the Internet’s fastest-growing and most talked-about social media site and are using it to their advantage.

– Dell recently announced it’s made $7 million in sales through Twitter, by hanging out and tweeting with “no strategy” in particular.

– Best Buy’s Twelpforce has answered 20,000 customer questions since July, and is featuring Twelpforce in company TV ads.

How can you use Twitter to grow your business? Here are 5 basic tips to get you started.

1. Make a profile

The first step to making an impact on the internet is creating an outstanding account. Fill it out completely, providing a good description of your business, and a link to your company website. In some cases your social media account might be the first impression that potential customers have of you, so you want to make it a good one. When you’re uploading your company logo, make sure you adhere to the size guidelines to best show off your brand. For Twitter, the logo guidelines are as follows:

– Profile picture: 400 x 400

– Cover picture: 1,500 x 500

When setting up your profile, you’ll also want to write an engaging bio for your business. Your bio should be a summary of the core focus of your business, so that your followers and potential customers know exactly what you’re about. As your business grows, you may want to set up a second Twitter account – perhaps one as a customer-service channel, and another as the main company page. This will allow you to better address queries and issues, rather than them getting lost in the replies to your tweets.

2. Listen & learn

At first, don’t post much… just search for Twitter users in your sector who have a lot of followers and watch what they’re saying. Follow them – some will follow you back and you’ll start to build an audience. Locate influential Twitter users such as Peter Cashmore of Mashable (@mashable) or Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and read their Twitter tips. Of course, also locate users that are relevant to your field, and interact with their community. When you start gaining followers, look at their profile and see how they interact and what they like.

Once you start posting, you’ll soon learn how to interact with your audience. With social media, you should spend time gaining a new audience, and also learning how to interact with the audience you already have. Twitter has built-in analytics, so you’ll be able to measure how people saw your post, interact with it and click on any links etc. When your audience interacts with your posts, it encourages Twitter to spread your post even further and helps you gain new followers.

3. Care & share

To encourage engagement, you need content that inspires your audience to interact. So, you need to provide value in your content. Talk about subjects that interest your audience, apply what you’ve learned from your previous posts. And tailor your blog content to suit what your audience is interested in. You can also interact with your community. Start retweeting interesting posts from others. Participate in discussions. Search on your company name and find customers with problems – then solve them. Share news about your company too, but keep it to about one-quarter of your total posts.

4. Attract attention

Hold a contest, take a poll, make a Twitter-only free offer, ask a question, or start a hashtagged discussion thread (a keyword that begins with the # sign). Start a blog on your company Web site and post links to your posts on Twitter to draw visitors over to your URL. If you decide to hold a competition to increase your audience, make sure you offer a prize that will interest your audience or the audience you wish to attract. To encourage engagement in your competition, set guidelines to enter, like follow our page, our like this post and share it with three friends etc. On social media it’s all about the give and takes, you have to give to your audience, as much as you want to take.

5. Promote it

If you already have a website, then utilise the audience you already have and connect them with your Twitter account. Feature your Twitter handle prominently on your own site and in all your marketing materials to help customers and prospects connect with you on Twitter and build your following. You can use your business’ Twitter account as a way to announce certain things that are important to your business, and post pages from your website that you think might appeal to your current followers and attract new fans.

A salesperson’s guide to sending content to prospective customers

salespersons guide

One of the best ways a salesperson can engage a prospect between conversations and move him or her through the sales process involves absolutely no talking.

How? Educate your prospects in between calls by leveraging your company’s content.

Your marketing team is constantly cranking out useful, relevant information packaged in different types of offers that can help you sell: ebooks, blog posts, case studies, SlideShares, webinars, infographics … you get the gist. Using content to nurture your prospects through each part of the sales process helps create a positive experience for the prospect, educate them so they are more informed before the next call, and ultimately shorten the sales cycle. Additionally, sending content that’s relevant to a prospect lets them know you’ve been listening to what he or she has to say, and that you’re invested in helping them by taking the time to provide resources they might find useful.

Sending along content is an excellent alternative to phone calls which, if too frequent, can overwhelm or annoy your prospect. A phone call requires instant attention from a prospect that is no doubt busy. An email with valuable content allows them to go through this information at their own pace, at a time that is most convenient to them. Chances are that they will retain more information as well. The trick is to know what to send and when to send it for maximum impact. This post will help you with that dilemma.

1) Before Getting a Prospect on the Phone

At this stage, you haven’t made initial contact with a prospect. Everything you know about them has come from your preliminary research, so this is not the time to send long, detailed whitepapers or industry reports. You want to be using top-of-the-funnel content that covers high-level topics that your prospect could relate to.

For example, if a prospect didn’t have landing pages, I might infer that lead generation is a challenge he or she is facing; thus, in the emails leading up to a connect call, I will send along a recent blog post on improving lead generation, and a traffic and lead calculator to help determine how many leads he or she needs to generate. Quick, usable content is key.

2) Before an Exploratory Call

Once you’ve connected with a prospect and have agreed to an exploratory call to go over their goals, plans, challenges, and timeline, follow up with a confirmation email that has one or two links to more in-depth content you think they’d be interested in based on that first call. Through this information, you may be able to inspire the prospect to better articulate what they want from your service.

3) Before a Demo

At this stage, you’ve qualified your prospect and he or she is starting to look at the nitty-gritty of your product or service offerings. At this stage, the questions are more in-depth. You want to send supplementary content that helps answer questions running through a prospect’s head at this stage in the buying process, such as:

  • What is the return on investment of this product or service? (Send an ROI report)

  • What kind of results should I expect? (Send customer case studies; they’re great stories that help prospects see themselves as customers. Demonstrating how you’ve helped customers in the past encourages the prospect that you’ll be able to do the same for them.)

  • How would I execute a particular new strategy involving this product? (Send a relevant whitepaper.)

4) Before a Closing Call

Your prospect has verbally agreed to purchase your product, and now it’s imperative to keep things simple and moving forward until the closing call. A great piece of content to send before the closing call is a clear breakdown of product features and pricing that the prospect can review. Having that information easily accessible can lessen anxiety about the prospect’s decision to go forward with a purchase, especially in a complex sale. It allows them to review their purchase in more manageable chunks, rather than as a potentially intimidating larger whole.

5) After the Prospect Becomes a Customer

Congratulations! You’ve converted a prospect into a customer — now make sure to keep them happy. Follow up after the sale periodically to check in with the customer. Your job doesn’t stop once the deal closes, so continue to monitor progress toward the goals you discussed, and be ready to answer any questions that come up. If a customer is having difficulty in a particular area, see if you can pull together some resources that can help them move toward solving their problem. If you’re having trouble finding the content, ask a member of your marketing team to surface the content for you. The request might even help inform subsequent pieces of content, filling in holes in their content arsenal.

Educating prospects proactively not only empowers them and makes them better equipped for conversations with a salesperson, but it also creates a layer of trust and rapport. You’re essentially letting your prospect know that not only are you listening, but also you’re truly here to help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. While it’s easy to simply say that during a call, actually following through and helping a prospect even before a sale speaks volumes and can help you close deals more effectively.

Why Profcoll stands out

At Profcoll, we are committed to helping all Aussies, whether they own a small or medium business, or a sole trader, to recover bad debt. To recover debt, we utilise all resources to adapt to scenarios throughout the collection process. We have over 23 years experience and support in debt collection, with a dedicated team of account managers to be with you every step of the way. Plus, if you don’t get paid, then neither do we. So, if you need debt recovered, simply enquire today, free of charge!

If you want to stay in touch, follow us on Facebook and stay tuned to our blog for the latest updates on personal finance, small business debt and measuring cash flow.

Getting paid is a battle won or lost before it begins

getting paid is a battle

Think of your clients as investments

From the minute you spend a dollar of your own money by providing your customers with goods or services, you are effectively investing your own money in their business. A good investment is one that makes you money and also helps to preserve your capital. So, make sure you are investing your money well. When you invest money in shares or property, you always take precautions to make sure your money is safe and the returns are right. And, so you should too when you invest in your customers’ business. After all, you protect your shares investments, so you should do the same thing when providing services and goods to your customers

Your chances of recovering that initial investment – and your profit –  on a timely basis are usually pre-determined by the precautions you take before you invest your money, not after. It’s simple. The more effort you put in from the beginning, the less effort that will be required later on.

And the longer your money is tied up in your customers business, the less money that is going back into your own business. Cash flow is important. If your money isn’t going back into your business, it isn’t doing what it is supposed to do. Consequently, the less money you will be able to make. Time is money – either because it costs you interest, or it costs you opportunities that you have had to forego because your money is in the wrong hands.

Some wise words that are applicable even today

If getting paid becomes an uphill battle, then like all battles, it is a battle that is won or lost before it begins. In the famous words of Sun Tzu, the 6th Century BC Chinese military general, he observed that “the best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities…It is best to win without fighting”. This also relevant to business and cash flow. Make your careful preparations beforehand and you’ll be much more likely to come out a winner.

So, it’s clear that the preparations you make before you “invest” in your customers are just as important as the actual investment. But what can you do to make sure that when you extend credit or services to your customers your investment is safe and sound? How do you ensure that “ hostilities” are avoided and business runs as smoothly as possible?

How ProfColl can help

We have a few tips, pointers and ideas to get you off to a fighting start. Let’s see if we can get you some answers in our next few posts. And don’t forget to subscribe to Cash Flow Corner to make sure you don’t miss these handy tips and more (see the side-bar)!

In the meantime, as a general rule of thumb, it is useful to remember that when you extend credit or services, you become an investor. Thinking like an investor is is a great place to start if you want to ensure that your cash flow and business stays healthy. Remember, cash flow is incredibly important for your business. If you have cash and services going out to your customers and clients, but none coming back in you’re going to run into some problems fast. Being smart with your services and cash beforehand can help save a lot of time and stress down the road. Subscribe to PCS for updates!

How Important Are Your Terms And Conditions When Offering Credit

terms and conditions document signing agree tick box with pen

Many businesses of all sizes in Australia are happy to give credit, services and products to companies they do business with every day. It’s common for Large SMB’s to provide credit to their clients and it is progressively becoming more normalised as it is the way the business works today. Granting credit is actually a way of making investments in the existing clients as you are effectively investing money in them with the premise that you will get a return on it. However, you will first need to assess which of your clients is actually worth your investment and time.

Not every small business in Australia today provides credit. Many will only make sales in cash. In several situations, this may cost them clients and sales since we live in a society that is driven by credit. For example, a supplier might want to place quite a large order from your company. However, they may not always have funds ready to pay for it upfront. This order can go to a competitor unless you are willing to extend credit to them. Small businesses might face trade-offs as they will need to balance the benefits of higher sales against the expense of providing credit.

In most cases, small businesses will have two basic types of clients. They will have trade credit clients or B2B clients. Trade credit is extending credit to the firms that you deal with. Smaller businesses would also have consumer credit clients or B2C clients, which are the normal public customers they do business with.

What Would Make Up A Company’s Credit Policy?

When an organization works on a cost and benefit analysis and makes an important decision of extending credit to their customers, then it would be vital for the company to establish strong procedures for collecting accounts and credit. An effective credit policy would normally be made up of three different parts:

Terms of the Sale-

These terms for credit clients would state how the company will sell its services and products. Will the company provide credit or only make cash sales? This decision would be made through a credit analysis process and the company would then determine which client can be given credit. If the company decides on extending credit to another firm, then the next step would be to establish various terms. The terms would include the discount that you want to provide the client, a discount period and your credit period. These terms could look like: 2/10 and net 30. What this means is that the company offers a discount of 2% to the clients if they pay them back in ten days. If the client doesn’t take this discount, the outstanding amount would be due in thirty days.

Credit Analysis-

A Company would have to determine how they will provide credit to other businesses under the credit analysis. They could use various methods such as credit scoring, evaluating the credibility of the business and getting credit reports.

Collection Policy-

Once the company decides to extend credit to other businesses, it would also have to design a suitable collections policy which can be used for monitoring the credit accounts. In most cases, two approaches are used by companies. They may use the aging schedule for accounts receivable or an average collection period.

The ACP or average collection period allows the company to know the average number of days it would take for collecting the credit accounts. This ACP can be compared to other companies in the industry as well as the ACP from earlier years. This will provide the company with a large amount of useful data to work with. When the ACP rises, the company may have to resort to aggressive collection on the credit accounts.

The aging schedule for accounts receivable is also a very valuable tool. This tool will allow the business to see the percentage of the credit accounts that are late, the delinquent accounts which are now considered uncollectible and more. Between both of these tools, it would be quite easy for a company to understand and maintain control over its credit accounts while taking care of problems which could affect the cash flow of the business.

Terms of Trade

Establishing clear and effective Terms of Trade is very important since it will ensure that your business operates smoothly. These terms will ensure that your money would be available to you when you need it. It will also establish a transparent relationship with the firms you deal with and allow you to collect your debts in an effective and straightforward manner.

Documentation for Terms of Trade

It is very important to have effective and clear Terms of Trade with the firms that you deal with throughout your relationship. Companies that do not have these terms correctly worded and in place would be at a major disadvantage. Effective Terms of Trade would ensure that you will be paid in a timely manner.

Since every company is different, it would be important to tailor your Terms of Trade to ensure that it suits your business. Having documentation supporting your credit policy and created by qualified and experienced legal practitioners in Australia will be important. The documentation must include all the specific information that would be needed by your business.

Benefits of the Terms of Trade Documentation

Having your terms of trade in place would mean:

  • Easy resololution of any unpaid accounts and disputes your business may have in the future

  • An improved cash flow and a reduction in the expense of monitoring these payments

  • Offering the advantage of title reservation till the goods or services are paid for

  • Charges imposed for late payments

  • Idemnity from the potential liabilities that may be associated with debt collection proceedings in the future

  • Protection against loss of any profit

Tailored Documents

It is also important to ensure that the documents you create for your organization are personalized or tailored to your businessneeds. Some of the documents that you would require for terms and conditions include:

  • Variation and Estimate forms

  • Indemnities and Personal Guarantees

  • Sales Order forms

  • Quotation forms

  • Work authorization forms

  • Credit applications
  • Terms and Conditions for the trade documentation

Establishing clear terms and conditions for offering credit will definitely make a huge difference to the way credit is managed in your organization. This is important as cash flow needs to be carefully monitored. Being able to offer credit from your business is a valuable tool. However, you need to make sure you are protected if you are offering credit and have clear and concise guidelines that are followed.

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A dog ate my invoice! Handle these 7 bad excuses for unpaid debts

a dog ate my invoice 7 bad excuses

Have you ever read a client email twice because you just can’t take what they’ve said seriously? We’ve all done that double take after receiving a client email.

Handling customers who refuse to pay invoices requires some clever communication. You need to carefully manage business relationships and remain professional whilst making sure you get paid.

Achieving this balance throughout the debt collection process can be incredibly difficult, especially as clients can come up with some creative excuses for not paying their invoices.

Here are some of the funniest stories we’ve heard, and how to handle them – so you can get past client excuses for not paying invoices.

1. “I can’t pay for your window installation as rain comes in when I leave the window open.”

Often customers will refuse to pay an invoice by stating that they weren’t happy with the goods or service they received. In such circumstances, always try to remain professional and to avoid burning any bridges. Calming remind them of your term and conditions and stick to your companies policy when handling complaints.

Work out if (and why) the client was unhappy with their experience. Were there any warning signs or negative conversations? Keep dialogue open, identify any real issues and figure out a way to resolve the situation that works for all parties – then ask for payment again.

If you reach an impasse, bring the conversation back to your contract. Outline how the work you’ve done fulfils contractual requirements and again, ask for payment. Remember to maintain written records of all discussions, as these are vital should the situation worsen.

2. “I spent too much over Christmas.”

It’s extremely frustrating when customers use their own cash flow problems as an excuse for not paying – especially because this often means they are passing their financial troubles on to you. Keep in mind the time of year, so if it Christmas, maybe prepare for clients to site this in their excuse.

Deal with this excuse by suggesting the customer pays in instalments. This will allow you to generate positive dialogue and strengthen your business relationship, whilst remaining focused on recovering the debt.

3. “My accountant is in jail so I didn’t get your invoice.”

Occasionally clients don’t receive invoices – but not seeing a bill can also be an easy excuse for not paying. In this instance, offer to resend the invoice whilst on the phone.

Immediately confirm with the client that they’ve received it and lock in a solid payment date. Notify your client that if payment is not received by that date, you will engage a debt collector.

And in the future, prevent this excuse being used in a couple of ways:

Set up email read receipts early in your relationship with clients so that you can see when the emails with invoices have been opened.
The second is to follow up your emails and reminder letters with phone calls to guarantee that your invoices have been received, and noted by someone at the business.

4. “We’re in the process of changing banks.”

Whilst this could be the case, changing banks doesn’t usually take very long. Ask for a concrete payment date, and if they can’t give it to you (or it’s too far in the future), ask for an alternative payment method. PayPal and credit card transactions should still be doable for your client.

5. “I’m not paying my phone bill because I dropped my phone in the ocean while deep sea fishing.”

When your customer seems unaware of their contractual obligation to pay, try to remain patient. Adopt an educational tone and explain that an incident like this does not render the payment contract void. If necessary refer to the terms and conditions of the customer’s initial agreement or contract. You don’t want to lose your patience and escalate the situation. Remember to follow the complaints protocol for your business, no matter how inventive the excuse is.

6. “Our company was liquidated.”

When told this you should immediately check if it is the truth. You can check a company’s liquidation status through the ASIC website. It can also be a good idea to speak to any other businesses who work with your client to check.

If the company is indeed being wound up, lodge a proof of debt claim with their liquidators immediately. If not, politely explain to the client that you can see that they aren’t being liquidated – but if they are in financial trouble, you can arrange a payment plan for their debt.

7. “A dog ate my invoice.”

If an excuse this cliché comes into play it can start to seem like your client isn’t taking your collection process seriously – making chasing debts even more frustrating than usual. Whatever happens, stay calm and use logic to explain that you can easily issue another invoice. Clearly, state a final date for payment, and highlight that if the debt is not paid by then, you will engage a professional debt collector.

Next Steps

If you’ve already tried the above strategies for rebutting payment excuses, it may be time to defer to a debt collection agency. Bringing experts on board can accelerate payment and assure your debtor that you are serious about getting paid. Visit our services page to get started for the experts in debt collection.

Why Prof Coll

Prof Coll is an leading agency in debt collection. We specialise in regaining your lost cash in with a professional demeanour. You can trust 23 years experience in professional debt collection. And we believe we shouldn’t get paid if you don’t. So, if we fail to recover your debt, then the service is free-of-charge! So, if you have debt that needs recovered, call on the experts and fill out our enquiry form here.

How to chase overdue payments politely: 7 steps

friendly way to collect debt

When you have an unpaid debt the lost thing you want to do is anger your debtor. It’s important to handle the situation with restrain and politeness. However, that can certainly be tricky when you’re frustated and need that cash back in your business. So, to help we want to give you 7 steps to polietly ask for overdue payments.

90% of SMEs have customers that don’t pay on time. As a small business owner in Australia, it’s inevitable that at some point or another you’ll deal with clients not paying their invoices. In this situation, you need to be able to quickly chase up payments, while maintaining a high-quality professional relationship.

Managing your cash flow is essential for keeping company finances healthy, but so too is retaining the customer base that you’ve worked so hard to establish. Here’s how to reach that fine balance of chasing overdue payments politely, so you can keep your clients happy while keeping your cash flow in check.

7 steps for politely chasing overdue invoices

Outline clear payment expectations in your contracts.

They say that prevention is better than cure, and the same goes for overdue payments. Contracts are an important point of reference if you end up chasing late payments. It’s essential to include payment terms from the outset in your business contracts with clients, so everyone’s expectations are clear and aligned.

In your contract, include invoice payment details, dates, and late payment terms and conditions (such as the process of following up payments, and whether interest is applied). Our partner law firm Celtic Legal can help you optimise contracts, terms & conditions, agreements and other important documents.

Implement a strict process for tracking and chasing payments.

With digital bookkeeping tools such as Xero and Quickbooks, it’s easier than ever to track outstanding invoices, and implement an automated overdue payment reminder email cycle.

Build a standard procedure for following up payments from customers. For example, send an email reminding your client that payment is due, and establish clear follow-up points for when an invoice is 3 days overdue, 7 days overdue, and so on.

Follow up emails with reminder letters.

Email is often the first step of chasing a late payment invoice. If you don’t receive payment after several emails, it’s time to try alternative communication methods.

Follow up your overdue invoice reminder emails with a reminder letter to your client’s business address, along with a copy of the overdue invoice, in case they did not receive it via email.

In your letter, invite the client to contact you to discuss payment. Provide your contact details so they can proactively reach out if they’re experiencing any issues.

Escalate communication.

Once you’ve sent emails and posted a reminder letter (to no avail), it’s time to make a phone call to your client. Stay professional and calm, yet firm when reminding them that payment is overdue.

Phone calls are more personal in nature, so be prepared – the client could share information on financial difficulties or personal situations that have led to the delay in payment, and you’ll need to remain professional throughout this conversation. At this point, consider offering alternative payment methods such as partial payment, or an instalment plan with interest.

Finally, if your payment is still outstanding, it’s time to escalate to a letter of demand, with a clear date that payment needs to be received by, or legal action may be taken.

Prepare your communication script in advance.

Whether it’s through emails, letters or phone calls, your tone of voice is critical for chasing payments politely. Wording plays a big part in helping you maintain a professional but courteous relationship with your clients. The more you plan your communications in advance, the better. Having a script will help you to keep your goals for the conversation in mind, regardless of what happens, so you won’t get distracted from the purpose of contacting the client.

Start your email communication off in a friendly manner and provide a gentle reminder to clients that payment is overdue. If payment still isn’t provided after a few emails, adjust your tone to be more serious, without coming across as threatening or aggressive. Refer back to the terms of payment outlined in your contract, state when payment was due, and include information on follow-up steps if the invoice remains unpaid.

Also, no matter how frustrating the situation can be, remember to always remain professional and polite. Don’t threaten clients or use intimidation tactics – this can work against you if the debt collection escalates to legal proceedings. If the situation escalates, trying to lower the tension if possible without backing down from what you’ve already said.

Keep a record of all communication.

When chasing late payments, it’s important to keep a detailed record of follow-up communications with your client. Have these on hand when contacting your client about overdue invoices, as these will support your reason for chasing the payment, and help you remain professional and calm during the conversation.

In your records, including the original date that the invoice was sent, the due date of payment, dates of emails, letters, or phone calls, and copies or logs of communication whenever possible. If the debt needs to escalate to legal proceedings, these records will also help support your case.

Bring professional debt collectors on board.

If you still haven’t received payment after several communication attempts, it’s time to bring in professional debt collectors. Debt collection agencies have a comprehensive understanding of legal requirements for recovering debt and can help you collect overdue payments quickly and effectively. They also have more scope to deal with elusive debtors than the internal debt recovery practices of your businesses.

When choosing a debt collection agency, take the time to understand their techniques and processes, as well as the tools they use to help investigate any hard-to-track debtors.

Bringing a debt collector on board sends a clear signal to your client that you’re serious about recovering your outstanding payment. That’s why it’s essential to choose an agency that can help settle overdue payments without damaging the relationship with your client.

If you’re chasing outstanding payments, we can help you recover unpaid invoices quickly and effectively. ProfColl is fast and discreet, and we know how to solve complex situations regarding debt recovery. To find out how ProfColl can help your business with outstanding payments, visit our services page.

Why Choose Procoll?

When you need some debt recovered, Profcoll is the agency to turn to. You can trust over 20 years experience in the industry with expert debt collection, with expert account managers to see over every detail of your case. At Profcoll, we employ the latest modern techniques to adapt to all scenarios throughout the collection process. There’s no joining fees or letter fees – just a commission, but only if we deliver your cash. We don’t get paid, unless you do.

Whether you’re living in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney or Perth, we can help recover pesky debts. We have offices all over Australia to service all kinds of business, including small and medium business, and sole traders. Whatever your business, we know that unpaid incomes can seriously damage your cash flow, so we want to get that money back where it belongs. If you need of some old-fashioned debt collection with a twist of modern technique, enquire today with Profcoll, free of charge.

If you want to stay in touch, follow us on Facebook and stay tuned to our blog for the latest info on small business cashflow and debt collection!

What’s the Personal Property Securities Register?

The Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) isn’t just another government service. A PPSR search is your way to protect your business and its bottom line from nasty surprises, as well as mitigate risk of a debt gone bad.

Simply put, it’s a national ‘proof of ownership’ register where details of security interests in personal property can be listed, and then searched by the public later. It’s a great way for those leasing or purchasing property to keep themselves covered.

Unfortunately, not a lot of business owners are aware it exists. The PPSR was created following the PPSA (Personal Property Securities Act 2009), and came into effect in January 2012. There has been widespread talk about PPSA being described as the most important piece of commercial legislation nobody has ever heard of. While this statement could be a little exaggerated, in reality the overall level of awareness is low.

Your guide to using the PPSR

To help you wade through the information available, we’ve put together a quick guide to understanding how the PPSR works, when to you use it, and the steps you need to take.

What type of property is registered in the PPSR?

The registry covers a range of vehicles, assets and more. It’s designed to cover assets or property that aren’t land. Some of them include:

  • Cars, trucks, busses and other motor vehicles

  • Boats, Caravans and trailers

  • Artworks

  • Livestock

  • Plant and machinery

  • Hire purchase & rental agreements

  • Shares

Getting protection when you’re buying goods

Are you thinking about buying a second hand car, truck or asset? You can use a PPSR to make sure you’re getting what you paid for, and no more than you bargained for. Formally known as a vehicle finance check, you can find out if the second hand car you want to buy still has money owing on it from any third party finance. This will save you from taking on any unpaid debts still associated with the asset, or having it repossessed by its rightful legal owner.

Use the PPSR register to check the VIN or Chassis number, and ensure that the vehicle matches its registered description or if it’s ever been written off.

How to check if a car has finance owing on it

It only costs $3.40 to check if a car is free of financed debt and safe from repossession, and all you need is an email address, VIN number of the vehicle and your debit/credit card number.

Then, to run a search;

  • Head to the PPSR website

  • Enter the VIN or Chassis number

  • Enter your card details to pay for the search

  • Get your search details and receipt

How to register a security interest on the PPSR

Depending on your level of service, using the PPSR to register a security interest can cost as little as $6.80, or up to $300 for some of the more complex certificates.

Before you use the PPSR to manage your credit risk, you’ll need a PPSR account, the type of collateral you’re using, an SPG number, the collateral class, grantor details and your method of payment.

Protect yourself when you’re selling on consignment

Selling on consignment or retention of title? You can mitigate the risk of a default by registering the goods on the PPSR. By securing the debt or obligation, you can make sure you get back your fair share before any other out-of-pocket creditors sell the asset to recover a bad debt.

Sleep better with a stronger lease

The register allows creditors to register property that’s been leased or financed, helping ensure its ownership status is correctly recorded. Then, in the event of a default, the lender/leaser is covered and in a better position to reclaim the asset.

A retention of title clause in your contract won’t protect you on its own, backup your agreements to keep what you own in the event of a default.

Tip: Talk to us about your Terms and Conditions if you are unsure about the clauses in your contract.

The PPSR can help with collections and debt recovery

Use the PPSR to ‘protect’ your security interests, to define the priority status of the collateral, and make sure the security survives any subsequent bankruptcy proceedings.

And while Professional Collection Services help streamline the collections you can make life much easier for everyone in your business by crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s in your credit department, especially when you’re using a professional recovery agency.

As for any owed debts to you or your business, we encourage streamlining your in-house process by using our collection letter template pack – click the image below to get your copy, and help your staff and stakeholders get a better night’s sleep with the knowledge that their incoming debts are well managed.

Why choose Profcoll?

When we work with Profcoll, you work with managers that really care. We want you to be informed, to know what’s happening with your debt and your customer. We want to protect small business and help return some missing cash into your cashflow. As a small business ourselves, we know how tough it can be, and how important cash flow is, that’s why we do what we do. To assist businesses in recovering missing cash flow, so they can put it too good use again.

Trust Profcoll to deliver results, quickly. And if we cannot recover your debt, we charge you a penny for our services. So, if you have unrecovered debt, enquiry today, free of charge.

If you want to stay in touch, follow us on Facebook and stay tuned to our blog for the latest tip and tricks in small buinsess cashflow and debt collection.

6 effective ways to collect money from ongoing customers

6 ways to collect money ongoing customers

Chasing ongoing clients who are not paying their invoices is a challenging balancing act. Avoiding disruptions to your cash flow is key for any business, but coming on too strong when collecting payments from clients can damage relationships with valued customers (and is often illegal).

The trick to collecting old accounts receivable is to find ways to collect money from customers while maintaining the friendly, professional manner that made them want to do business with you in the first place. Below are some of our debt recovery tips for collecting money from clients who won’t pay, without endangering your working relationship with them.

1. Establish invoice tracking systems

Reviewing your accounts receivables regularly — ideally several times a week — and establishing a system for following up on any lapsed payments is crucial. It takes the risk of arbitrariness and guesswork out of the question of how to collect unpaid invoices.

Start by automating a standard procedure, complete with a script for phone calls or letter templates. These should be followed in every instance and tailored to several points: when an invoice is three days late, 15 days late, 30 days late, and so forth.

Include reminders to keep detailed records of the unpaid invoice and subsequent follow up attempts throughout the entire process. Keep them on hand for reference whenever you’re contacting the client.

2. Follow up with a letter

A reminder letter is a way of chasing invoice payments while still maintaining a professional working relationship with debtors. We’re often asked what to say when collecting accounts receivable, and how to balance firmness with friendliness.

First and foremost, remember to remain calm, confident and polite in all dealings with debtors — ultimately, they are still customers. Never use any threat or intimidation tactics. Not only is this bad business generally, but it could work against you should the debt escalate to legal proceedings. If this happens, you want there to be no question that you acted calmly and professionally throughout the debt collection process. Threatening language will only reflect poorly on you, both at the time and in hindsight.

At the end of this initial follow up letter, ask the client to contact you to discuss payment. This opens the door for them to broach the topic of any financial difficulties they may be experiencing. Ideally, prompting the client to call or otherwise contact you will be enough to solve the issue. If not, then you may have to take this next step yourself.

3. Make a phone call

If your client hasn’t made the overdue payment or reached out to explain why not, a phone call may be the next step. Ensure you maintain a professional yet firm manner while talking to them.

Often, due to the more personal nature of a phone call, this is the stage in which clients who’ve missed a payment due to financial difficulties on their end will confess as much, allowing you to better gauge the situation. If you encounter any hostile behaviour, try to remain calm and de-escalate the situation if possible, while still reiterating the need to resolve the issue.

4. Re-establish payment terms and options

Depending on your firm’s policies and your client’s financial situation, offering other payment options and terms can be an effective way to recoup money owed — but you must weigh up the opportunity costs carefully.

Consider the value of the client to your firm, their prospective customer lifetime value going forward and the likelihood that they’ll recover from financial difficulty in the future. Offering an instalment plan over an agreed upon timespan can be one solution, with interest or late fees for any future lapses.

Partial payment is another option for those who prioritise recovering the debt in the short term over the long-term loss of the full payment. However, we recommend seeing a professional debt collector before taking this route.

5. Send a letter of demand

After sending two reminder letters, the next step is the letter of demand. This letter enforces a clear payment date before escalating the process to a professional third party (debt collector) or pursuing legal action, signalling that you’re serious about recovering this debt.

6. Outsource to a professional debt collection agency

If you’ve exhausted all of the above options, the time is right to bring professional debt collectors on board. Research the agency in advance and ask about their techniques, processes, and tools for tracing runaway debtors (including whether they offer comprehensive debt investigations for hard-to-track debtors). Debt collectors are typically equipped to go above and beyond in the recovery process. Depending on the nature of your contact with the debtor in question, you might require the debt collection service you hire to do just that.

Whilst it might be an option that many businesses will treat as an absolute last resort, a debt collectors are suited to and experienced in the debt collection process. With their expertise and in-depth knowledge of the law and guidelines, hiring a debt collection agency can be the quickest and best way to collect past due accounts. The presence of an impartial third party can sometimes be all it takes to convey to the debtor that you ‘mean business.’ Hiring a debt collection agency could be what you need to get that overdue payment settled promptly, without damaging the working relationship between the debtor and your firm.