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"It gives me peace of mind to know  Elite is looking out for us. They've been a real lifesaver."

Debbie Bergonia


Smoothing the Path to Better Receivables

When it comes to billing correspondence, good communication makes a big difference. After all, that little bill or invoice is the starting point for your company to collect its hard earned receivables from customers. And as anyone whoís every perused a balance sheet knows, the quicker you get paid, the better for your business.

How so? Okay, time for a quick refresher from Accounting 101. Days Sales Outstanding (DSO from hence forth) is a commonly used measurement of a companyís average collections period, providing a general snapshot of the number of days it takes customers to pay an invoice. A low DSO number is good. Really good. It means that a company is following up and collecting outstanding receivables quickly. Converting sales into cash in a hurry means that a company has the chance to reinvest in technology, infrastructure, or marketing, putting its money back to work to make more sales. And who wouldnít like more sales or cash on hand?

High DSO, on the other hand, can be a pretty substantial problem. It means clients are dragging their collective feet when it comes time to pay their bills. Which can, in turn, lead to cash flow and bad debt problems that limit liquidity, rein in potential reinvestment, and may even prompt a business to increase its bad debt reserve.

The Solution: Better Billing Correspondence
Now we donít mean to suggest that lowering DSO is as simple as improving the effectiveness of your billing correspondence. There are definitely other factors that can come into play here: longer than normal credit terms being offered up to generate new sales, customers that are a little less-than-credit-worthy, product/service dissatisfaction, or an overburdened collections staff are all common reasons for slow payment, Having said that, smart, customer friendly invoices and a bill processing approach thatís precise, fast, efficient, and immaculately managed can definitely go a long way towards speeding up how quickly your business converts sales into cash.

But itís all just ink on paper, right? What difference does a smart layout, or custom design, or detailed mailstream management system really make on how quickly your business gets paid? Quite a bit, actually. In fact, letís go ahead and count the ways.

1. Collectability
Clear, intuitive, straightforward invoices are a very smart, very simple way for companies to quickly and efficiently rev-up revenue collections. Let us explain. Outside of customers that are very dissatisfied, habitual late payers, or simply donít have the resources to pay what they owe, billing confusion and frustration is perhaps the single greatest source of continually high DSO.

Which makes perfect sense. After all, customer uncertainty as to precisely what is owed and why is a sure-fire impediment to quick collections. Thatís because itís usually going to take a phone call (or perhaps several) to resolve the invoicing issue in question. And that not only bogs down A/R, but also puts additional strain on your customer billing team.

All thatís why impeccably designed invoices that use a smart, battle-tested layout and custom application development really do make a difference. Billing correspondence that clearly communicates key transaction details (whatís owed, for what, and by when) through simple, jargon-free, to-the-point design takes the mystery (not to mention aggravation) out of bill payment. Industry-types have coined this kind of stuff bill readability. But all you really need to remember is the results: fewer days in A/R, more cash to run your business, and additional time for your billing staff to devote to other activities.

2. Brand Enhancement
Every interaction you have with a customer Ė from initial phone conversation to final invoice Ė is a chance to tell your story. Who are you? What do you do? Why does it matter? All corporate communication (verbal, nonverbal and everything in between) should reinforce your answers to those questions in the minds of consumers. Which is why a generic billing print out of questionable quality is no longer good enough.

Prominent use of brand elements (logos, colors, and messaging) converts each bill that you send out into a highly personalized communication touchpoint that can help increase customer awareness and recognition. The bottom line: by embracing smart design and document customization, you can create a true communications vehicle that represents your company and builds on its hard-won brand identity

3. Full Marketing Potential
Massive reach. Almost universal customer penetration. Full-blown communications potential. If that sounds like a recipe for marketing success, well youíre absolutely right. By blending your traditional billing correspondence with a targeted, relevant marketing message within a single document, you can get the added benefit of a cost-effective tool for business generation and retention.

It works like this: custom programming and specialized design enables variable messaging to be printed on-the-fly directly on each bill that your business sends out to its customers. Additional database management technology enables you to drill down into a reservoir of current customer data on stuff like purchasing history to serve up a marketing message thatís specifically targeted to fit each businessís unique profile. The result? Your organization gets invoicing thatís built to sell.

4. Increased Efficiency
Although it might not necessarily be at the top of your list when it comes time to trim the fat, customer billing costs can be a pretty significant drain on organization efficiency. Printing, stuffing, and mailing statements takes resources and employee time and productivity that could be better served handling other mission critical business activities. Then thereís the high-today, higher-tomorrow cost of USPS delivery.

With those considerations in mind, outsourcing your invoice processing can be a smart way to cut billing overhead and get more productive. Outsourcing your invoicing can provide ultra-valuable benefits like bulk postal discounts, economies of scale in paper, printing, and processing that keep per-invoice costs under control, and the peace-of-mind that comes from working with a proven expert

5. Web Connectivity
Okay. Game-changer time. Web connectivity has the ability to completely shift the way that customers are billed (and make balance payments), providing rapid delivery, real-time payment, and additional customer account management tools that keep your staff completely on-top of all invoicing and payment activities.

Todayís bleeding-edge invoice presentation solutions enable companies to upload invoices to a secure, feature-rich customer billing portal where they can view current and past invoices, make a payment on an outstanding balance, or send confidential, trackable billing questions to your staff via the web. On the service side of things, these uber-sleek solutions offer really valuable tools like invoice storage and retrieval, easy payment processing, accounting system connectivity, and full portal activity tracking.

Clearly the benefits of online invoicing goes way beyond meeting the demands of the many business that are requiring partners to offer paperless billing capabilities. In addition to cutting out the typical costs associated with producing paper bills (paper, printing, envelopes, postage), thereís also the elimination of lengthy delivery times and manual payment processing that can hamper your ability to collect quickly. All of which can mean some pretty impressive results: less overhead, happier customers, faster delivery and payment, and lower corporate DSO.

The Wrap Up: Elite's Here to Help
So by now hopefully youíve got a pretty good idea about just how much additional value well designed, customized invoicing can provide for your business. Efficient billing and lower DSO goes hand-in-hand with bottom-line-boosting stuff like less overhead and more cash flow, To learn how you can take your invoicing form cookie-cutter printout to ultra-customized revenue generating machine, simply call us toll free at 1.800.276.6456 or email info@eliteps.com to set up a consultation.

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