Getting Paid On Time & Pavlov

PavlovGetting paid on time takes work, but done properly and consistently it pays off.  I’ve maintained for years that in-house collections, done correctly is a very Pavlovian process.  What I mean is, if you follow up on unpaid invoices, consistently and courteously, you will train your customers to pay faster.

Have you ever noticed how many accounts payable clerks are, if not rude, darn close to it?  I used to believe that rude and non-English speaking accounts payable clerks were a deliberate ploy on the part of  business owners to put off accounts receivable clerks.  I’m still suspicious but it’s equally as likely that they are just busy and overworked.

So, if we want them to attend to our invoices so we can get paid on time we need to send them out without error, on time, and we need to follow-up in a timely manner.  And it wouldn’t hurt to make sure you’ve opened your mail and posted all of your payments before you start collecting.  (Not that I’ve ever made a collection call and then found an unopened check on my desk…)

Accounting in general and accounts payable specifically takes concentration, and while you, as the accounts receivable person, know you’re just doing your job, they, in accounts payable, can finish faster, more efficiently and with fewer mistakes if we, in accounts receivable, don’t interrupt them.

So am I suggesting we be polite and don’t interrupt?  Of course not 🙂 I’m suggesting that if we;

  • Send invoices out on time
  • Send invoices out without error
  • Follow up in a timely manner
  • Be courteous
  • Sent copies when requested

In other words, use a system.  The Reader’s Digest version is, if you follow up on time and consistently, they’ll learn to pay on time so they don’t have to take our calls.  Voila! Customer training.  Pavlov probably didn’t care about getting paid on time but I’m willing to bet you do.

originally written June 2014

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