Revenue Collections Seminar Revenue: It’s Yours for the Taking Association of Public Treasurers (www.aptusc.org)www.aptusc.org
Collection Goals Fair and timely collections 80% Collection rate Reduced costs Efficient staff use Security Reduced float Automation when possible Accurate record keeping Complete approach to collections
Reaching your goals... Utilize Improvise Politicize Centralize Privatize Focus on all revenue not just delinquent revenue
Getting Started Identify your sources of revenue Taxes, utilities, fees, fines, etc. Assign responsibilities Assess needs of departments Find and clarify existing policies
Getting Started Determine Who How Where all revenues are received
Centralize Centralizing collections – especially delinquent collections Centralization may improve efficiencies Centralizing utilizes resources Centralizing focuses $$ impact Finance/Treasury Current Collections Cashiering Delinquent Collections
Centralized Collections A centralized collection department can increase the collection of revenues Eliminates duplication Utilizes staff Builds departmental support Creates centralized information Strengthens settlement authority
Centralize Processes Not People Standardize Cashiering in outlying departments Receipting procedures Deposit procedures Centralize Combination delinquent billing Utilize combination billing Centralize receivables Combine department information
Getting Started To get started Create a plan how to manage collections how to administer collections
Strategies Generate support from elected officials communicate your goals/purposes Tolerate short term seasonal delinquencies focus attention elsewhere Prior year delinquents are one-time revenue Focus on big-ticket and attainable collections
Getting Started “ To collect all revenue promptly and maintain the goodwill of the customer” Create a “Mission Statement”
Getting Staff Started Assign Responsibility Assign Tasks Set Objectives
Lockbox Lockbox for high volume items Utilities and taxes Lockbox is more than payments Capture and transmission of Images and Data Expediting Information Processing Useful for all high volume payments Avoids Capital Expenses Keeps You Up-to-Date In Technology
Lockbox The goal is reduction of float Mail float Unique post office box and multiple pickup Automated postage direction Processing float 24/7 operations Direct deposit to bank Direct transmission of data to you Clearing float Multiple deposits
Lockbox Processing LOCKBOX -opens mail -sorts -verifies payment -captures image -deposits funds -transmits Same day deposit to your account Same day transfer of data and images to City
JUST GET STARTED !! Determine revenue sources Develop a collection plan Identify Obstacles Write a Mission Statement Develop procedures Assign Responsibility Get Started!
Developing a Collection Plan Develop well defined procedures Script telephone calls Write model letters Evaluate collection agencies Evaluate credit card use
The Seven Axioms - #1 Collect before you send the bill. Government is not in the business to extend credit.
Minimize your credit risks Obtain all needed information at time of service Establish relationships with clients Refuse service if appropriate Require deposits where possible Obtain collateral LOC CDs
Identify individual’s credit risk The Four C’s of Credit: CHARACTER- willingness to pay CAPACITY- ability to pay CAPITAL- financial condition CONDITIONS- current credit
The Seven Axioms - #2 Collect before you send the bill The best technique is simply to ASK Ask By Telephone
The Collection Phone Call Collection telephone calls should be: PERSONAL - know your client IMMEDIATE - don’t delay contact INFORMATIVE - to both parties FLEXIBLE - adjustable
The Collection Phone Call Pre-Call Planning: Use records concerning the account Use all sources in the organization Contact the right person: the decision maker
The Collection Phone Call Develop an Opening Statement Ask for the right party Identify yourself and your entity State the reason for the call Wait for responses – Pause
The Collection Phone Call Plan the approach: Be clear with planned questions: Give specific amounts, dates, reasons Avoid negative phrases Anticipate excuses
Ask for the money State the facts Ask for the balance in full Negotiate through objections Settle on mutually agreeable terms Be sure of their intentions
The Collection Phone Call Ask for the money! Be ready for excuses Involve the customer in the options Be prepared with payment plans
Reasons and Excuses Already paid…(get details) In dispute…(mediate) No money…(situation and plan) Bankruptcy…(info and file) Not scheduled…(late fees) Carry over?(payment plan)
The Collection Phone Call Closing the deal! Reiterate the commitment Get a commitment from the customer Agree on dates and amounts due Confirm it in writing Calendar for follow-up
The Collection Phone Call Leaving Messages Confirm the name of person responsible Determine the best time to reach the person Leave your name, organization,telephone and request to call back Get the name of person taking message ALWAYS be courteous Do not make a demand for payment
Record Keeping - Collection Call Planner Customer__________ Tel.______ Date______ Opening Statement:_____________________ If not, payment plan will be:______________ Benefits to the payment plan:_____________ Excuses expected:______________________ Especially useful for new employees.
Record Keeping - Customer Contact Forms Date: Customer:________________Tel:_____ Individual:________________________ Invoices Due: #____________________ Contact Response:__________________ Action:____________________________ Create a database of all contacts.
Record Keeping - Call Log MONTH: _______________ Date Customer Invoice/Amt Phone
The Seven Axioms - #2 Simply Ask! By Telephone By Letter
The Collection Letter Creativity increases collections Creativity gets noticed Creativity generates support Creativity motivates staff
The Collection Letter Motivate them to pay Don’t threaten without follow-through Use accurate information Brevity is best Write on a six-grade level Check to avoid unintended inferences
The Collection Letter State the facts State the proposal State the reason State the Action Review letters periodically Personalize Avoid humor Be Creative
The Seven Axioms - #6 Collect before you send the bill Simply ASK! Do not treat everyone the same Late fees are the best incentives The earlier the effort, the better the return Be CREATIVE Make your request stand out in the stack!
The Seven Axioms - #7 Collecting before you send the bill. Simply ASK! Do not treat everyone the same Late fees are the best incentives The earlier the effort, the better the return Be creative You have to find them to make them pay!
Information Sources Be creative - be Columbo – Who has the information? Relatives?colleges? Landlords?professional groups? Employers?trade groups? Roommates?other creditors?
Choose your weapon and focus Free or inexpensive sources Cross-cross directories Internet directories Public records
Outside sources of information Informational databases Credit reports Social searches Search disks Professional skip-trace companies
Returned Checks Require repayment be in cash, cashier’s check, certified check or money order. DO NOT accept a second bad check. Add a service charge - if legally allowed Post warning signs clearly stating fees Keep a history of returned checks Consider NSF collection by ACH
NSF and ACH New bank service NSF checks are not re-deposited immediately Check data changed to an ACH ACH targets likely payment date First of the month? Appears to increase collections 20% May be lower bank cost also…
Collecting Your Money Successful Collection Telephone Calls Successful Collection Letters Collecting Returned Checks Other Collection Techniques
Other Collection Techniques Promissory notes Discontinuation of service Amnesty Withhold or deduct payments Deny contracts, Loans or Grants (database) Legal Action Guido?????
Other Legal Remedies Wage garnishment Property lien Levy Property seizure
Making It Easier To Pay Accepting Credit Card Payments
Accepting Credit Cards Advantages to customers More choices for the customer (especially in-transit clients) Ease of payment May enable earlier payments May produce better records
Accepting Credit Cards Advantages to your organization Faster access to receivables Reduces mistakes Reduces cash handling Eliminates check losses Reduces billing and collection efforts (shifts collection burden to credit company)
Accepting Credit Cards Disadvantages Cost to the governmental unit Check percentage charge versus flat rate Credit rate costs to customers May add extra steps administratively Possible legal hurdles
Making It Easier To Pay y Accepting Credit Cards y Electronic Payments
What are Electronic Payments? ACH and EDI The banking world is going to EDI Exchange of electronic payment and backup information through standard formats via financial institutions EDI uses on payments and receivables Variable trailer information available Trailer length is critical on internal information flow Electronic withdraws of monthly payments from customer’s account through direct debits
Electronic Payments Advantages Customers save processing costs Eliminates late payments On-time collections and cash flow Security Minimal excuses re lost, stolen checks
Electronic Payments Disadvantages Procedural controls Pre-notification cautions NSF collections by ACH requires disclosure
Making It Easier To Pay Accepting Credit Cards Electronic Payments Direct Payment Accepting off-site payments
Using Technology Payments by phone, fax, or internet Front end payment acceptance Verisign Remote deposit
Collecting Your Money Successful Collection Telephone Calls Successful Collection Letters Collecting Returned Checks Other Collection Techniques Write Offs
Write-offs When to give up? Discharged bankruptcies Wrong responsible party Deceased accounts Invalid referrals Court denials of claims/judgments Amount or age doesn’t warrant efforts
Write Offs: When? When cost benefit of further action is not justified To accurately present your financial position Guidelines: after one year write off a) most accounts without legal problems; b) small amounts (under $25.00) c) problem accounts
Using Contracted Services Using a Collection Agency Using a Collection Attorney Using Credit Bureaus
Credit Bureaus Payment information available to subscribers Judging a credit report Unspoken fear of credit impairment Bureaus: Equifax, Atlanta, GA. Transunion, Chicago, IL Experian, Cleveland, OH
Credit Bureau Report Tradelines Credit Bureau Reports
Legal Aspects of Collection Fair Debt Collection Practices How hard can I push?
Legal Aspects of Collection Fair Debt Collection Practice To eliminate abusive practices by collectors Government agencies are exempt (letter not spirit!) Prohibited Practices: Threatening or harassing language Calling before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM Abusive language Calling place of employment (if employer prohibited)
Legal Aspects of Collection Fair Debt Collection Practice Do: Limit communication with debtor Limit communication with third parties Avoid harassment and abuse Avoid false or misleading representations Provide written validation of the debt
Legal Aspects of Collection Fair Debt Collection Practice Don’t: Don’t make contact with debtor more than twice a week unless otherwise arranged Talk to ANYONE other than the debtor about the debt Harass the debtor Threaten the debtor with actions that can not be carried out
Credit Reporting Abide by the FCRA Notify the debtor of your intent to report debt Use information for legitimate business uses only Disclose information ONLY to employees whose duties relate to the business purpose Refrain from selling or distributing the information to third parties
Legal Aspects of Collection Fair Debt Collection Practice Bankruptcy
Legal Aspects of Collection What is bankruptcy? Legal means by which individuals and corporations place a hold on debts incurred prior to a filing date.
Bankruptcy Creditors are prohibited from attempting any collection action on pre-filed debts. Post filing debts are due in the normal course of business.
Bankruptcy Chapter and Verse Chapter 7 - Liquidation proceeding available to individuals and corporations Chapter 11 - Allows a business to continue to operate while formulating a plan to return to profitability Chapter 13 - Partial or full pay off of creditors over extended period of time -for individuals only.
Bankruptcy Terms and dates Notice Filing date Case number Automatic stay Trustee 341 meeting Deadlines Proof of claim Discharge dismissal
Evaluating Your Collection Performance Do you have “age-less” receivables ??
Evaluating Collection Performance DSO - Accounts Receivable Turnover Days’ Sales Outstanding = days required to collect a dollar of revenue from the date billed until collected Receivable at end of month ($12,500) Revenue for month ($10,000) $12,500 x 30 days /$10,000 = 37.5 days
Analysis of Aged Receivables Aging delinquencies in set time periods 0 - 30 days$ 30 - 60 days$ 60 -90 days $ Used for transfer to outside agency Not helpful in determining causes
Schedule of Collected Revenue Total dollars collected by days Used for new programs Determines natural collection periods
Uncollectible Accounts If write-offs are not authorized Target large $$ dormant accounts Identification allows future prevention Analysis purposes
Evaluating Performance Accounts Receivable Turnover Accounts Receivable Aging Schedule of Collected Revenue Un-collectable Accounts Comparison of Revenue and Expenses
Revenue Comparisons Quarterly or semi-annual reviews Program reviews Departmental reviews Cost benefit evaluations
In Summary Set Objectives Make a Plan Evaluate your resources Design your tools Evaluate outside assistance Evaluate your progress
MONEY NEVER SLEEPS Wake Yours Up ! Through better collections.
Good Luck ! About your trainer: Linda Patterson, CTP President, Patterson & Associates Linda, who has trained cash handling, collections, and investment courses for the Association of Public Treasurers and Public Treasury Institute for over 20 years, is the President of Patterson & Associates, an investment advisory firm established in Austin, Texas in 1994. 800-817-2442 www.patterson.net www.patterson.net
APT US&C APT represents over 1,000 public treasury and finance officials in local, county and state/provincial governments throughout N. America. The Association provides education, certifications and technical assistance to its membership. Visit www.aptusc.org for information on the 2007 Annual Conference in San Diego, August 11-15. www.aptusc.org PTI PTI provides training manuals and coordinates training seminars for public treasury and finance officials. The Institute and APT formed an alliance in 2004 for a wide range of training manuals workshops. Visit www.PublicTreasuryInstitute.com for information on booking a seminar in your city, county or region or to purchase the latest treasury manuals on line. www.PublicTreasuryInstitute.com