Estimated reading time: 21 minutes
Identify critical, financially weak customers, long before bankruptcy! Without Microsoft's AI, 100% Business Central or Navision integrated, very fast, no additional effort. Avoid bad debts almost incidentally.
You will also find more tips on this exciting topic of avoiding bad debts, regardless of whether you use Business Central or Navision or a completely different accounting system, e.g. Diamand, SAP Sage KHK, HS AS400 or whatever.
Does this require artificial intelligence? Nope.
Microsoft would like to sell its AI (Artificial Intelligence ... Either it is not artificial, like Amazon, or it is not intelligent) to Business Central & Navision in order to determine “whether an invoice is paid on time”. Or not. Wow.
That is very little for a receivables management / risk management / risk minimization against bad debts due to bankruptcies or other reasons for a default.
Continuous monitoring of receivables easy as a side task
I've got something much better for you: a real warning against customers who soon become insolvent (go "broke"). And this directly and easily integrated into your (almost) daily Business Central and Navision work. Easier than any receivables management, quasi "on-the-fly". Avoiding bad debts has never been easier and cheaper. Grab a coffee or tea, sit back, and take your receivables management to the next level with this article.
Of course, there are exceptions and surprises, no computer algorithm can protect you. But in the bulk (and rule) you can observe the following:
- Customers whose liquidity is falling are increasingly using their payment terms.
- "Healthy" customers usually pay within the allowance period.
- "Ailing customers" then switch to the due date (ie pay at the net payment target) instead of the allowance due date (earlier payment with discount deduction).
- And when it gets even tighter, the due date is already a bit overdrawn ... and then a little more ... and so on.
If you wait too long, the only thing that will help you is a credit default insurance... but these providers don't do that for God's sake either 🙂 You will find some examples of how much invoicing service providers ("factoring") will cost you below... and how you can determine if it is worth it for you.
At the end of this article you will find even more warning signs of bad debt, impending insolvency and non-payment. You can use these even if you don't have Navision & Business Central... but it's more elegant with Navision. 🙂
There are considerably more warning lamps (indicators) of bad debt / payment defaults (see at the bottom), but the increase in payment duration (the time until the settlement of open invoices / items) is one of the simplest and safest indicators (signs) of impending insolvency.
An increase in the order value with a simultaneous extension of the payment term is more of a confirmation of the impending insolvency than a growth indicator ... Take care to avoid payment defaults.
React in time to avoid being stuck with your own receivables due to the insolvency of your customers. And maybe even become a case for the insolvency administrator. By the way, the screenshots for the examples are taken from a real customer installation.
Navision or Business Central will help you very easily!
This technology is of course also suitable, for example, to have customers automatically adjust payment terms and credit limits by the system. Talk to me about this, if you would like to expand your receivables management / risk management in this regard.
Examples of an on-the-fly evaluation of impending bad debts / bankruptcies
What is the easiest way to protect yourself against impending insolvency / bankruptcy / bad debt of your customers with Navision or Business Central?
Quite simply: You observe the payment behavior, quite incidentally, without any additional work worth mentioning.
And that practically without adjustment in standard Navision or Business Central. Only the report (Report) 106 Customer Detailed Aging (Debtor - Due Items) has a small extension: The history of the previous payment periods / overdrafts!
We simply show the payment duration of the last n payments in the top right (or wherever you want). Examples:
Example Recognize payment rhythm
Payments often fluctuate by a few days around the due date. This can also be recognized very quickly here and thus gives an all-clear, if it's sometimes paid a few days later.
The customer in this example sometimes pays after 12 days, sometimes only after 16 days... But if you look at the details, you immediately recognize: The customer simply makes his payment run on Fridays! The detected deviations are therefore no real deviations in payment behavior, but only an example of rational accounting, a functioning receivables management.
Example of a healthy, punctual payer, no risk of non-payment
Annelise is obviously very luiquid: she always pays within the discount payment period (Ø already after 4 days), the current invoice is also just 7 days open. The cycle 4 4 4 7 4 rather indicates an invoice that was once paid 3 days later because of a weekend. See first example.
Ernst takes a little more time: He prefers to pay within the due date, but very reliably. And the current bill is still right in the middle of it with 14 days. Business Central or Navision gives you a reassuring message here: No need to panic.
Example of punctual payer, no or low probability of bad debt loss
With one receipt and 64 days overdue (21 21 28 20 32 64 32 41 34) there was probably a lack of clarity, but otherwise no cause for concern. All others were settled (paid) after about 20-30 days. By the way, the payment days are sorted by date: The last payment (the last settlement) is on the right, so you can see the development very well.
Example fluctuating, irregular payment method
Here it is easier to see that this customer "pays according to availability". This is not critical, but it can lead to a bad debt. He obviously pays his bills when he has enough money available again. A single overdue customer for him can very easily become your problem!
Although the payment terms themselves were never particularly noticeably exceeded, the jumping between yes / no cash discount clearly shows that this customer now and then has financing problems.
You don't have to worry about small amounts, but if sales suddenly rise, then your alarm bells should ring: He may want to quickly restock his inventory at your expense.
By the way, if this is a known problem for you (customers quickly replenish their own warehouse at your own expense shortly before their insolvency), then we can also very easily issue the respective amounts here, which makes such a tendency much clearer.
But then you need a little longer to scan it quickly. Under Navision & Business Central RTC (RDLC), individual days could still be highlighted optically / in color. Unfortunately, this is not so easy to do in Navision up to version 2009R2. But also possible!
Example of creeping insolvency with a good outcome
It got a lot more exciting here. This customer used to pay quite well (after 18 19 20 14 8 days). Then it got a little more difficult. Corona? The payment duration went up to 82 days. Then the situation relaxed again: The payment duration clearly went down from 82 to 66, 52, 38 days to discount payment (7/8 days).
Example (almost) certainly the following shortfall of accounts receivable
Here we have a perfect example for a red flag. He always paid in time in the beginning (0,2), then within the discount period (8 days), then he already used his net payment period22 days), was then overdued (69 and 81 days). The current receivables are now already 53, 66, 81, 197 Days overdue: This trend was already apparent a long time ago! Countermeasures should be urgently considered here, e.g. advance payment, payments on account, personal discussions with the management. Also, make sure you have the correct retention of ownership on all your documents. If your Navision/Business Central does not yet print this important sentence on your documents, feel free to contact me regarding this.
And: You just do it on the side. At least I know it that the due item list (Report 106 in Business Central or Navision) is a popular tool to quickly check the open customer items shortly before the (hopefully automated?) Dunning run. And that with real intelligence, not with artificial intelligence.
And so that you can quickly resolve the issue with the customer, the e-mail address and telephone number are also provided. Minimal adjustments to make life easier: That's how Navision and Business Central work. You don't need AI for that.
Automatic liquidity planning with Navision & Business Central
There is so much more that can be generated from this data! E.g. Navision can automatically determine the due dates in the accounts receivable items of Business Central and Navision from the last 3 payment cycles. This way your own liquidity planning -without any additional manual work- is much more accurate than you can ever do by hand. Statistics don't lie, at least not your own.
Further warning signals of shortfall of accounts receivable / bankruptcies
First order with new customers
First order? Maybe. even with a noticeably high value of goods, or unusual product combinations? If you don't know the customer at all, this is always associated with a certain risk.
Rating agencies such as Creditreform or Euler Hermes Rating help with a credit check. In Shopware even automatically via plug-in! Take a look at the commercial register, which can be viewed free of charge.
Checking of insolvencies
You don't even need any service provider for that! Insolvencies are announced transparently, free of charge and publicly! Research your customers here for free if, for example, one of the indications shown here occurs.
High priced products
Also pay attention to whether, for example, there are very high-priced products in your range that are cheaper elsewhere, or products that can be easily resold, such as cameras, laptops, notebooks ... Fraudsters do not compare prices. If you don't pay for it anyway, the purchase price isn't all that important....
If the delivery address in the first order differs , you should also pay attention, just as with deliveries to packing stations.
Also pay attention to the name mail address. A Rüdiger Müller with the email address Ralf.email@example.com or a Ralf3245532@web.de should put you in alert.
Mail addresses with many digits or random letter combinations are often created automatically (e.g. by a bot). Or even by a person who does not care about the statement of a mail address. And if the order arrives in the deep hours of the night... better make a phone call afterwards. After all, that can be customer service 🙂
Change in payment duration (& punctuality)
In the case of existing customers, the notes on the extension of the payment term (as described above) and and fictitious complaints are an indicator. Whereas the last point is automatically expressed in the above-mentioned exaggerated payment lines - very convenient! Bogus complaints work like complaints, only that they are unjustified. They are only to hide payment delays.
Previously unusual partial payments or changes to bank details are another indication that should be kept in mind.
Deterioration in customer communication, employee information
Obviously, but to be treated manually are the clear warning signs such as inaccessibility of the management, competitors who only deliver to their customers against prepayment or cash payment, name changes, relocation of business fields abroad, discount battles (just like at the "Praktiker Baumarkt")evasive responses from employees about the operating situation, employee turnover, often changing contact persons…
Also make sure that your contact person drops a comment like "Since Mr. or Mrs. xxx has left, nothing works anymore" or something like that. In average companies there are usually only average employees. These companies are carried by the market.
It is more exciting with above-average companies! Often the brilliance of the company only depends on one or very few employees. A really good salesman, an excellent programmer, a super skilled buyer. In this case, the departure of a single person can jeopardize the market leadership of an entire company.
And even this process itself can be an indicator: Good employees are usually the first to leave a fluctuating company, which then increases the fluctuations.
If you hear any warning signs, a quick, free look at the commercial register won't hurt. Here you will also find, for example, the opening of insolvency proceedings. In this case, contact the insolvency administrator listed there immediately and ask about how to proceed, e.g. further deliveries to your customer.
Securing accounts receivable through factoring
There are numerous service providers who take care of your receivables management. And also offers "from 1% fee", e.g. at AXA, which quickly make you think about getting rid of this whole tiresome subject of receivables monitoring.
But please be as smart as your factoring provider! Simply take the accounts receivable reclassified as "non-recoverable receivables" in the previous year and taken as a secure payment default. And put these defaults in relation to their total sales. This percentage is their statistically expected bad debt loss. If this percentage is higher than the fee for your factoring service provider, you are getting good business dealings with factoring. If this percentage, however, is the same or even less than the fee for your factoring service provider, you are doing bad business selling your accounts receivable. Apart from the fact that you may also burden your customer relationship with it.
Calculation example: You posted 2,768 euros as uncollectible receivables in the previous year, with sales of 568,234 euros in the previous year. Your bad debt loss is therefore 2,768 / 568,234 * 100 = 0.49%. If you now pay 1% of your turnover as bad debt insurance or collection fee, you will double your costs. In Navision / Business Central you can also calculate/display this important key figure fully automatically in the account scheme!
The same also applies to bad debt insurance. Of course, these companies also make a calculation of the risk of default and have you pay for it. And assume that: The really already known lazy customers do not take these bad debt insurances and the factoring providers neither.
Impending insolvency as customer loyalty
Something that at first sounds like a contradiction can also be an opportunity!
Of course, this requires an enormous amount of sensitivity on the part of everyone involved. First and foremost, you need to be able to get an idea of whether a critical customer has a chance of surviving in the market. Should you come to the realization that this opportunity is definitely given, you can possibly use this opportunity to bind a very loyal, loyal customer to you for the future! Be sure: If you don't simply sacrifice your customers, refrain from “throwing them into bankruptcy” (deliberately bringing them into bankruptcy), you will win a loyal customer for the future. And here, possibly, laying the seeds for a mutually very fruitful cooperation.
Dies gilt nicht für jeden Kunden, und das gilt erst recht nicht für jedes Land. Wenn Sie ihren Kunden als klassischen Hanseatischen Geschäftspartner, ein Händler mit Ehre und Gewissen, kennen, sollten Sie unbedingt diesen Weg des Dialogs gehen! Evtl. können Sie mit Ratenzahlungen & Zinsen ihrem Kunden hier eine echte helfende Hand reichen.
Wenn Sie eher mit, sagen wir mal, „Südländisch“ oder orientalischen orientierten Kunden & Ländern Geschäfte machen, könnte es schon sein, das Sie schneller auf gerichtliche Mahnverfahren oder „Russen-Inkasso“, also externes Forderungsmanagement umstellen sollten. Es gibt hier keine allgemeine Regel, hier ist ihr Bauch- und Fingerspitzengefühl sowie ihre Erfahrung gefragt. Navision / Business Central kann sie hier sicherlich bei Ihren drohenden Forderungsausfällen über die Buchungshistorie (Debitorenposten) sehr gut unterstützen – Ihnen aber nicht ihre Entscheidung abnehmen.
Anticipatory receivables management
Review & Manage Invoices
Post all incoming payments regularly and promptly. This is the only way to have a reliable view of your receivables, your liquidity (cash flow) and, above all, the payment behavior of your customers.
Remind customers of outstanding or overdue invoices
If you, e.g. with the above mentioned open items list, promptly discover your overdue invoices and thus critical customers, it is time to remind them - even before the first reminder - to settle the claim. In many cases, you can use this to get open receivables paid ("collect") before a default occurs. For example, you can simply forget or not properly delivered invoices without much hassle to get paid. Especially with my invoice per mail feature you have the comfort that you can directly attach an electronic copy of your invoice in PDF format to the friendly reminder email. This streamlines your time spent on receivables management, and also makes it easier for your customer to clarify and pay. So you avoid unnecessary hassle with little work.
With Navision in particular, dunning is as easy and flexible as with hardly any other financial accounting system! Unlimited foreign languages (e.g. German, English, Dutch and French), unlimited reminder methods (e.g. "Friendly" and "Demanding"), unlimited reminder levels (e.g. in reminder level 5 instead of a reminder immediately the finished letter to the collection service). Use this option to send an urgent reminder to your late paying customer with little effort on your part. With my invoice per mail feature you can even attach the overdue invoices to the reminder right away if you wish. Why should you waste time discussing "Oh, we didn't get those"? If you have gotten into the habit of sending reminders shortly after a delay in payment has occurred, then the first reminder may or should contain the word "reminder". If you are afraid of the effort for the reminders, the first reminder should still carry the friendlier title "reminder".
Write a due date on your invoices! This automatically puts the customer in delay after the expiration of this period. With the reminder, however, he is put in delay in any case. According to the law, this entitles you to interest on arrears and compensation for damages. This also applies to attorney's fees or collection costs.
What to do if the customer still does not respond? That depends on the amount of the bill and the customer relationship. See also above.
Higher sum and long-term customer? Seek the conversation with the customer and work out a joint solution. Goodwill can even strengthen customer loyalty. See above.
If the customer can't pay for a short period of time, a deferral could be a solution for smaller amounts, for example. "Deferral" means: the postponement of a due payment for a longer period of time (deadline), for example for one to three months. Ask your customer for a realistic forecast of when he will be able to pay the bill!
A deferral of payment suspends the statute of limitations, i.e. interrupts it. If the debtor acknowledges the claim, the limitation period even starts from the beginning. A longer statute of limitations is advantageous for you because you have longer time to collect the claim before it expires (forfeiture).
Also consider charging interest on the deferral. A deferral can have a confidence-building effect and help retain the customer over the longer term.
In the case of larger amounts, it may also make sense to pay in installments. This restarts the statute of limitations. Navision and Business Central offer you great opportunities for easy management of this through unlimited partial payments on receivables.
If all this remains unsuccessful, you have no choice but to collect the debt via a lawyer, a debt collection agency, a court order or a lawsuit in order to avoid a complete loss of receivables.
Involve debt collection agency or lawyer
Collection agencies should always be your last choice, bringing in a third party can (and will) irreparably damage customer loyalty.
Many debt collection providers are organized here: List of association members.
There are three main debt collection models:
- Purchase of receivables: In this case, the collection agency buys the outstanding debt from the creditor for around 20 to 30 percent of the invoice value - you are left with the loss.
- Silent Assignment: In this case, your collection agency collects the debt in its own name, but the debt remains with the creditor. The creditor receives his money -minus commission- only in case of success.
- Collection as a service: In this case, the debt collection provider collects the invoice on behalf of the customer and invoices the debtor for his services. He also receives a commission in the event of success.
You should always try to reach an agreement without involving third parties first. If you can't get solve it without court, you can also initiate legal dunning proceedings yourself. This is simple, fast and saves a lot of costs and administration.
Initiate legal dunning proceedings
Usually, by means of a judicial dunning procedure, you will receive an enforcement order (enforcement notice) without having to file a lawsuit. This procedure is faster and less expensive than a lawsuit.
You can submit a reminder request online or in written form at the competent district court: mahngerichte.de.
If the application is filled in correctly and completely, the court will issue it without delay. Thereby it's not checked whether the claim is justified.
If the debtor doesn't object to the reminder within two weeks, a corresponding enforcement notice will be issued.
With the enforcement order, you have a ready title in hand and can instruct a court bailiff or initiate other enforcement measures.
You can calculate the fee for the judicial dunning procedure here online..
With the issuing of the reminder notice, you will receive a cost calculation, which you can charge to the customer.