Many accountancy firms offer credit control as a service for their clients and for good reason. With nearly half of all UK SMEs trading on credit and cashflow being the lifeblood of any business, it’s an essential finance function that needs to be done right.
Despite its mission critical status and a plethora of tech solutions intended to help, many accountants struggle to offer a credit control service that’s highly effective for their clients and scalable for their firm.
In this blog post we’ll take a look at the key challenges accountants face and pose a number of solutions.
But before we get into it, let’s define the term scalability:
Scalability, whether it be in a financial context or within a context of business strategy, describes a company's ability to grow without being hampered by its structure or available resources when faced with increased production.
With that in mind, why do so many accountancy firms struggle to scale their key services?
Here’s our top three reasons why accountants struggle to scale their credit control function - and we’ve listed solutions that, if implemented correctly, can make a big difference to a firm and the clients they’re serving.
Process (or lack thereof) can be a major hindrance when you’re looking to scale your credit control function, serve more clients and ultimately increase profitability.
Picture the scene; you have the best credit controller in the world. They’re excellent at their job, clients love them, and you know you can leave them to get on with things safe in the knowledge that they’re going to deliver.
The problem is they’re one person. Being one person with a finite number of working hours in the day, there will be a point where they reach capacity (no matter how good they are).
In this situation you need to tap into your superstar credit controller's knowledge and work with them to develop effective processes that other members of the team can follow.
Where a firm has a team of generalists happy to work across a variety of accountancy and bookkeeping tasks there can be another challenge. Prioritisation of credit control.
While every member of the team will understand the importance of credit control for your clients in theory, the day-to-day reality when it comes to prioritising work might be different. When faced with our to-do list in the morning it can be human nature to push the task we want to do least to the bottom of the list.
If members of your team feel awkward about managing the credit control process (it is a specialist skill after all) they may avoid doing it until there’s nowhere left to hide.
The problem here is threefold:
Firstly, it can cause undue stress for the employee in question. Knowing that something is important but not feeling confident enough to do it is not a great feeling.
Secondly, this is a rubbish situation for your client and they don’t even know about it. If they’re paying for a service and it’s not being prioritised as it should be then their business is going to suffer.
Finally, if your client’s businesses start to suffer then it won’t be long until you also begin to struggle.
The solution here is to give all members of your team the training, knowledge and confidence they need to deliver an excellent credit control service for your clients.
Another challenge many accountancy firms face when looking to scale their credit control offering is maintaining customer relationships.
Communication can be a challenge for a firm when they’re looking to recover an outstanding payment from a customer. This then becomes even more difficult when an accountant (acting on behalf of the firm) is added to the equation.
Times that by the number of businesses an accountant at a growing firm has to liaise with on a daily basis and you can be looking at a major headache.
Having confidence in your credit control processes and a robust CRM strategy to manage relationships with your clients and their customers can be just the paracetamol you need for this scenario.
Here at itsettled we help accountancy firms across the UK improve and scale their credit control operations.
Our cashflow protection software identifies payment risks and automatically collects overdue invoices. Saving your clients time, improving their working capital position and allowing them to thrive.
Find out more about our partnership programme for accountants by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.