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MASTERCLASS SERIES

Five Winning Strategies for Faster Debt Collection
Webinar Transcript
Jane Evio:

Thank you for joining us today. Just to make sure that you can all hear me, if you can just please type there where you’re joining from today, that would be really, really great. We have a little chat button there just to make sure you can all hear me.

Jane Evio:

My name is Jane, and I’m the head of customer success here at ezyCollect, and I’m joining you here from rainy Sydney, unfortunately. Excellent. I can see some people from Melbourne, New Zealand, Sydney. Fantastic. All right. So just a few logistics here. This is a listen-in mode webinar only so any questions that you have for us during the entire webinar, please pop them in through the Q&A, and if you’re having any issues, please chat with us, and our team will be more than happy to help you. Otherwise, we will go through all of your questions at the end of the webinar. Yeah, let’s get started.

Jane Evio:

So for today, like I said, I am Jane Evio, head of customer success here at ezyCollect. And today, I’m actually joined by two very, very special guests over here. One of our guests is our partner, Eddie Smith from ARMA. So Eddie has been with the business, with ARMA for over 15 years. And ARMA is ezyCollect’s collection agency partner for the last five years, and we have clients using them as an extension of their debt collection process. Welcome, Eddie.

Eddie Smith:

Thank you, Jane. Thanks for having me.

Jane Evio:

Excellent. And also, we have a very, very special client guest over here, Lisa Arnfield from Skillinvest. She is our finance consultant and business manager. And Skillinvest is a non-for-profit premium employment training specialist that works with different size of businesses, ranging from automotive, construction, food and hospitality, and they have over 5,000 customers. Lisa, it’s very good to have you here.

Lisa Arnfield:

Thank you for having me.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic. So throughout this webinar, we’ll be hearing a lot from Eddie and Lisa, so it’s really just good to have these two special guests join us in this webinar today. Now, I just wanted to give a quick context on what we are going to go through in our webinar today. One moment. All right.

Late Payment Problem

Jane Evio:

So for today, obviously we’re going to tackle some of the late payment problems that we’ve had in the B2B space. And as we know, there’s been really a distinct and fragmented approach between the accounts receivables and accounts payables. So we want to look at the pain points here, which really is whether they’re looking at manual processes, high labor costs, lack of payments data, as well as poor visibility of incoming payments or upcoming payments. So let’s say you provided services and products already but then you’re not getting paid 30, 60, 90 days later. So we want to make sure we tackle all those casual challenges and give you some tips and tricks of five winning strategies on how we can help you hopefully eliminate those late payments.

A collaborative approach

Jane Evio:

What we find, it’s really the need for a more integrated approach and a digital approach on focusing on the needs of both accounts receivables and accounts payables and bridging the gap on these two.

Jane Evio:

So from ezyCollect, obviously we’ve been always working with accounts receivables teams. Our clients, this has been really their focus, but in saying that, the AR is definitely connected to the AP, so we want to tackle some of the things on how we can help our clients look into the AR approach to combat really late payments, and this is really driving to have a customer-centric approach. As the head of customer success here in ezyCollect, this is what our team does as well. So we want to make sure that every business that we help use ezyCollect and also apply this approach. We talk to a lot of clients on a day-to-day basis and we wanted to just make sure that we can help our clients get their customers to pay them on time.

1. Give customers more control

So I want to just quickly go through a couple of points here on how that can be achieved. So first you can see here, you want to really give your customers more control. So what does that mean? You want to make sure that you are flexible with your payment terms and you’re also providing multiple payment options for them, whether that’s from the beginning of acquiring goods, ordering goods from sales order, purchase order quotes, all the way to invoices from the day you issue them. Can they pay that before they’re even due or when it’s time for collection?

Jane Evio:

And in saying that, you want to also make sure that there is a communication line from placing these orders, handling order complaints and so forth. If you give that pathway between your customers and your AI team, then they can actually manage that more efficiently. One of the tools that ezyCollect helps in that is automated communication path and in tying that to providing different payment options digitally and online. So we are in the digital age, and you want to make sure that customers are paying you or 24/7 or can pay you 24/7, after business hours or the weekends and so forth.

2. Encourage customer loyalty through Customer Intelligence

Jane Evio:

And tying that to that is when you have those different options, then you actually encourage customer loyalty. And from a business perspective, you want to make sure as well that you have that data to back you up. You want to make sure that it’s very easy for your customers to do business with you. And at the same time, you have that data. We talk about who’s going to pay me tomorrow? You have those consolidated overview of your customers and how your customers’ businesses are going.

Jane Evio:

If, for example, they’re paying you on time, you want to incentivize these customers and keep them, maybe do more business with them, extend the credit terms for those. And for those that are paying you late, look at the risk involving their business. Do you have visibility in front of you and in front of your AR team to know that perhaps they’re struggling today with the COVID challenges and maybe apply a personal approach to these customers, pick up the phone and understand why they’re struggling to pay you with these invoices? Do you need to extend? Put an installment payment plan for them to ensure that they can pay you rather than just saying, “We don’t want to do business with you.” And this is to ensure that you then build a really long lasting relationship with these customers rather than just brushing them off and putting them on the side because as we all know, it’s really hard to get new customers in place while it’s much easier to keep the existing customers in place.

3. Create an open dialogue and a deeper relationship

Jane Evio:

And this is to ensure that you then build a really long lasting relationship with these customers rather than just brushing them off and putting them on the side because as we all know, it’s really hard to get new customers in place while it’s much easier to keep the existing customers in place.

So with all these little tips, you can then create an open dialogue in a deeper relationship, like I said. Now we’ll go through into more details into this one, and Eddie who has had a lot of experience in the collection process and with experience from our clients, I want to hear on the five winning strategies actually that we have here planned for you today. All right, Eddie. So in this part, Eddie will join me to just go through some of these strategies to make sure that you can have a faster and more effective debt collection. Eddie, what do we know about our customers?

1. Know Your customers

Jane Evio:

All right, Eddie. So in this part, Eddie will join me to just go through some of these strategies to make sure that you can have a faster and effective debt collection. Eddie, what do we know about our customers?

Eddie Smith:

Oh, well, this is where it all starts, I think. I think the best organizations realize that this is where you got to set yourself up for success, I guess, and it can be very easy to overlook this. I guess a lot of businesses get excited about the new customer, the sale and move towards, I guess, servicing that customer and the delivery. But it’s really crucial to ensure that you really start to understand your customer.

Eddie Smith:

So what I talk about here is how well do you actually know the business? Where do they operate? What do they do? Who are the actual owners? It’s all well and good that you’ve spoken with a supply manager, maybe it’d be an account manager, but who are the people actually running the business and the people who are going to be making the decisions on I guess authorizing your payment? We talk about credit checking being an essential step, but I think especially during this environment, it’s looking beyond that and trying to form deeper relationships. Exactly what Jane was talking about there is to truly understanding who your customers are, what they do and how do we best, I guess, work with them.

Eddie Smith:

But it’s an interesting point. I think we’re going to have a poll here just around understanding which of you within the webinar or who of you in the webinar utilizes credit checking as a tool for them to be able to understand, I guess, or get a better insight into that customer’s financial position. So really keen to understand that a little bit.

Jane Evio:

Yeah. So there’s just a little poll that pops into your screen, if you can just quickly answer that. Look, it’s really interesting, Eddie, that you mentioned that because I speak to a lot of customers and they say they do credit checks in the beginning. And then after that, it’s like, yeah, we’ve done it before and that may have been years and years ago, so you’re not sure. So are you saying it should be ongoing, right?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. It’s definitely that initial when you’re assessing that customer, but it’s also making sure that you are monitoring or you’re keeping across, I guess, any changes that happen in the business. There’s a lot of great products out there that allow you to do that pretty autonomously where you can just set up an alert. If there are changes, I guess severe ones that may be in regards to credit defaults, potential legal action, obviously, those are really serious red flags, but there’s also some other stuff. Maybe change of ownership, change of directors, some smaller stuff that you can pick up on and it could be worthwhile just sending a salesperson out there and saying, oh yeah, what’s happening? Is there new directors, new owners? Is anything worth letting us know about? And I think that’s always key, but yeah, it’s really easy to do most of that stuff.

Eddie Smith:

What else can we talk about there? So yeah. I think this gets overlooked a lot, is while you might have relationships with certain people within the business, it’s also key to actually understanding the finance team and the contacts there. We see a lot of the time when debts come through to us at a late stage that we have a certain contact within the business who actually has no authorization or responsibility for paying the bills.

Eddie Smith:

I could see how that would be quite challenging for a business to try and get that paid if they’re directing all their communication or their efforts to a certain individual who actually that’s not part of their role. So I think it’s key to be able to understand, identify who those finance contacts are and ensure that they are getting the communication that ensures that they can pay your bill.

Jane Evio:

Absolutely. So just to summarize what you just said there, obviously credit checks and looking at the credit scores in the beginning is definitely key. And then ongoing checks, like you said, monitoring and looking at their risk levels as you do business with them. So just to let you know, we actually have this in the platform in ezyCollect, from inception of credit applications all the way to grading their credit scores and having that data to provide to our clients to say, “Hey, yeah, this is the late payment risk score and failure risk score that you have.” And this is ongoing, so we actually look at how late they’re paying our clients. At the same time, we also provide the risk levels, whether they’re in the medium or high risk so then they can assess whether they’re still in the right credit terms? Are we still offering … Should we still be delivering products to these customers and so forth? It’s definitely key to have that monitored. You want to be proactive rather than really reactive.

Make It Easier for Customers to Pay You

Jane Evio:

Okay. And now when you know your customers then sets all these terms and conditions, obviously the next key is-

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. Just making it as easy as possible for them to pay you.

Jane Evio:

Oh, sorry. I got really excited and moved to the next one already.

Eddie Smith:

We’re on this one. Yeah. I think what we’re just talking about here is making it as easy as possible for your customers to pay you. We talk about self-service capabilities. How can they come to you and pay their bill when you’re potentially not there? Is there web portals? Is there IVRs? Is there means for them to be able to make those payments after hours? And then a pretty obvious one is things like pay now buttons, I know ezyCollect has got a lot of that functionality that just allows a customer to read the communication, act on it, and then resolve that account as quickly as possible. So yeah, just some little ideas there, but it can be really effective if your customers are engaging, I guess, digitally with you, you absolutely want to ensure that they’re following through and making those payments.

Jane Evio:

Absolutely. If you have that payment portal like we do in ezyCollect, so you allow your customers to actually just view and download their invoices at any point of time, and I know one of the reasons why customers tend to delay making payments is like, “Oh, I didn’t get a copy of the invoice,” but it removes that excuse really to like it’s all there. You can actually log in and see all of your overdue invoices, make partial payments if you can’t afford to pay all the invoices, but then again, give them that flexibility. Like you said, after-hours payment, that’s really important.

 

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. So again, a really interesting one, especially over the last 12 months where I’m sure there’s been many scenarios where you’ve asked the customer and said, “Oh, cool. How are you going to make this payment? Can you make it all in one lump sum?” And I think a lot of business has been faced with some tricky decisions around how they’re going to manage their cash flow. And I think offering different options, whether that be, I guess, a down payment, a smaller payment to initially get started to be able to get some commitment out of them to obviously help you guys, but also looking at installment plans. I know that our business has, I guess, lived off those installment plans, especially over the last 12 months when we’re faced with customers who might be dealing with hardship or some challenges, and just getting commitment out of them to be able to look to pay off that debt is key.

Eddie Smith:

A lot of the time, what we typically do is set a short-term installment plan so that may be over a monthly period where we’re getting weekly payments. It could be over a three-month period. And we’re letting them know that once we get to that, we’ll then have another conversation, “We’re hoping that your business might be in a better position for you to be able to pay that off,” but it’s really working with them and ensuring that they’re comfortable and not putting too much pressure on them if they have serious concerns, but ensuring that they are actually paying down the debt as quickly as possible.

Eddie Smith:

An interesting one that we’ve certainly tried, I know obviously the buzzword over the last three or four years is that buy now pay later. And I guess in the trade credit world, we’ve always been, I guess, buy now pay later, but that four equal installments is an interesting one. Whether it’s just a trigger or whether it’s the millennials, but being able to pay something off in four equal installments, I guess, releases, I guess, the pressure on that customer and it gives them a way to be able to continue to work with you guys. So it’s something that we’ve tested and tried across a lot of our debts as more of a late stage campaign to say, “Hey, would you be interested in paying this off in four equal installments given that it seems to be the buzzword at the moment?” So that was a trick that we’re seeing some pretty good results from at the moment.

Jane Evio:

Yeah, absolutely. I agree with you, Eddie. I think we’ve also seen that trend with our clients, obviously, splitting the invoices to make monthly or weekly payments. But in addition to that, we actually have what we call settle now and pay later. Similar concept but essentially, it’s on the invoice financing side wherein if you want these goods to be delivered and so forth, then you can actually … We’ve partnered with another provider for that they can provide that invoice financing that goes for 30, 60 or 90 days. So it definitely helps in terms of the cash flow, but it’s really interesting to see that it flows through all the way to that collection stage especially when someone is struggling.

Jane Evio:

Really key here is making payments and very flexible payment options.

4. Leverage Technology to Maximise Contact Rate and Engagement

Jane Evio:

So this is something I’ve touched on a little bit earlier, but can you walk me through a little bit more about this?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. So this is just, I guess what we talk about here is leveraging technology to be able to communicate and engage with your customers. I think ezyCollect has definitely led that by obviously providing a digital collection platform. And that absolutely is a great way to be really quick and efficient and be able to get some feedback in regards to are they opening it, are they reading it, are they following through on the actions, but it’s really understanding how your customers are responding to that. The old school ones might still respond better to a phone call at a certain period in the month. Others love an email at 9 PM at night. Others interact via SMS. So it’s learning from that over that, I guess, customer relationship period and ensuring that you’re catering towards it.

Eddie Smith:

Another point there, especially, I guess again over the last 12 months is not always ruling out, I guess, that physical contact as well where possible. But what we did notice, and it doesn’t have to be in, I guess, a debt collection type conversation, but sending a sales rep out to their business to be able to see them face to face, to be able to have that conversation and also bring up the fact that there’s outstanding invoices. We’ve seen that work really well. So it’s just blending all those different, I guess, channels that are available to you and learning from them and then ensuring that you’re, I guess, mirroring the past behavior from the customers and maximizing that for future interactions.

Jane Evio:

Absolutely. I totally agree with that. Now, do you think that now we’re out of lockdown, people are actually seeing clients again? Because I was speaking to one of our partner yesterday and she was like, “Oh, it’s my first time to see clients, and it happened to be Melbourne Cup, so we just mixed business and pleasure and it was really fun.”

Jane Evio:

Oh, that’s really great, but then again, she was like, “I’ve been doing Zoom for the last two years.”

Eddie Smith:

Well, yeah. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got some Zoom fatigue. So I’m sure face to face meetings and that face to face interaction would be key, and I’m sure your customers would love to see you. It’s a great way to, I guess, build that engagement. There might be opportunities to be able to sell as well and look to be able to build those relationships. But absolutely, I’m sure the customers are very open to seeing you guys face to face. I think it’s going be an effective tool especially as we come out of lockdowns and people would be very much inclined in meeting face to face.

Jane Evio:

Absolutely. And just looking at the engagements, you mentioned earlier phone call still works and we definitely suggest that because I guess it has that very personal approach especially if businesses are struggling. What I’ve also seen are clients applying SMS as part of their collection tool, part of their automation as well just because I think everyone is on their phone anyways.

Jane Evio:

So might as well just send the messages and, again ensuring tying in what we talked about, having payments available through that SMS. So when they click a button, they can just go and see their invoices and make payments. So it’s really crucial to have those different communication types applied to different processes in your business and also different types of business. I think B2C, the SMS really works, and obviously email will always be a part of that.

5. Utilise Collection Agencies as an Extension to Your AR Team

Jane Evio:

Well, now, looking at the last one, this is really interesting obviously because this is what ARMA is all about, and we also really want to educate our clients not to be afraid of debt collection.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah, absolutely. This really talks to the partnership that I guess ezyCollect and ARMA have and how we want to be seen to your customers, which is really an extension of the AR team or the ezyCollect digital collection process. And where I think it works best is once you have that really clear and consistent internal process, you then know that when it gets to a certain stage or it gets to a certain age, you’ve done everything possible to be able to collect that debt. And at that stage, you’re probably best handing it over to the experts and letting someone else, I guess, step in there and try and get a result as opposed to spinning your wheels a little bit if you’re not getting an action.

Eddie Smith:

And so that’s where I think the best organizations leverage our skills. They know that they’ve got the policy, they’ve got the process set. When it gets to 60 days, they’ve done X, Y and Z. They might have one final step where they might have the owner call them. And once they’ve done that, bang, it moves on to the collection agency.

Eddie Smith:

I also wanted to raise, I know there can be some hesitation around, oh, but then we’re going to have to spend money where we still think we’re going to be able to collect it. And one of the key things to look at is looking at what we call a cost clause in your terms and conditions. So if you have the ability to be able to pass on the collection costs, so whether that be, I guess, fixed fee, letter fees that we’re sending, whether it be commission charges or whether at a later stage it’d be legal fees, if you look to incorporate that into your agreement, you can then pass that on to your customers.

Eddie Smith:

Now, not always do you want to do that. You might still want to work with them. You also might not want to penalize them, but it gives you a bit of leverage throughout that late stage process to say, “Hey, it is escalating. You did commit to these terms and conditions. If it does get any further, the debt is going to go from $10,000 to $11,000. I want to try and get this view as quick as possible.” So it’s good for leverage but also is a cost saving exercise that we can definitely pass on to our customers when we’re successful at collecting our cost. It means that the out of pocket expense for our customers is very minimal.

Eddie Smith:

I talk about the sweet spot there. We talk about anywhere between 60 to 90 days. Again, it’s all based on, I guess, what internal processes you guys have, but what we typically see that for customers that leave it too late, that’s when we’re faced with some greater challenges. The business might have moved. They may have shut down. The owners might have changed location. It gets a little bit trickier for us to be able to navigate that process. So it’s really key in understanding what is that sweet spot in regards to timing and committing to that and ensuring that you have that free flowing process that goes from, I guess, the internal to what we call external.

Eddie Smith:

One of the cool functionalities that we worked with ezyCollect is around if we’ve got multiple customers that need to be referred at any one stage. Now, previously we used to do it, I guess, click by click, but we’ve built in a new service where if there are multiple customers that you could say at the end of the month that hit that 60 or 90-day mark, there is a batch referral functionality there which allows you to basically lift and shift those accounts over to us and for us to be able to step in there and try and get those resolved for you.

Eddie Smith:

The final point there is for you-

Jane Evio:

Definitely.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. You go.

Jane Evio:

Sorry, Eddie. Just want to mention that’s definitely one of the things that our clients told us. We have to escalate a hundred customers. How do we do this in a better process? And we listened and we made it happen. And so it’s really just like click, click, and then over to ARMA.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah, we see that a lot. Especially as organizations put a focus on their AR, they engage someone like ezyCollect. They want clean up their ledger. They look at it and go, “All right. We need to do a bit of a health check here. We’ve got a lot of accounts that we’ve been umming and ahhing what we do with them, and that’s where we can step in there. We can lift and shift all those accounts over to us, and we can start to get some results for you guys there.

Eddie Smith:

But one of the key factors that we also sometimes see through ezyCollect customers is around, well, I still want to have these guys as a customer. I’m a little bit worried that our communicating with them is going to impact the relationship. And that absolutely shouldn’t be a concern. We work with all types of businesses at different ages, whether that be as soon as maybe 10 days overdue or as late as two years overdue. All right. And our goal is always to ensure that we’re representing your company in the best way, and that’s that customer centric approach to ensure that we’re, in some cases, rehabilitating that customer, reeducating them around how to work with you guys, what were the terms that they commit to, and we want to ensure that you can continue to partner with them.

Eddie Smith:

And a lot of the time, what you find is that it actually brings them back into line with being a good payer because they felt, oh, it does get escalated. They’ve been educated. We’ve talked them through exactly what the terms are. And you’ll find moving forward is that they’re a far better payer than what they were previously. So yeah, it’s definitely not to be seen as this final resort, we’ve got the bad guys on them. We want to work with your customers and bring them back in line and turn them into great customers again for you.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic. Look, Eddie. I just wanted to ask you, because you mentioned in the cost clauses in terms and conditions, sometimes we have clients asking us about this and are like, “Oh, we’ve never even considered that or we don’t have that.” Is this something that ARMA can help with to look at their T’s and C’s?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah, we certainly can. And it’s a big question. You go, “Where do you start? What clauses do you need in there? What legislation, what jurisdiction? But there is definitely some things that we can help you out with that. So either it’s done through ARMA, and we’ve got consultants here and we also partner with a specialized debt recovery law firm who can provide someone guidance there. So if you wanted to get us to have a quick review over them to see if it’s all up to date or if it particularly has things like cost clauses, feel free to reach out. Happy to have a conversation and run eyes over it. And if we see there are improvements, we can certainly help you out there.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic. That’s really good to hear, Eddie. I just wanted to add here because you said 60 to 90 days is typically the sweet spot here. And I know that when we onboard clients, sometimes they all want their customers to go to the first followup, but that’s not always the case. They will have these already aging debters in their book, and their question is like, should we let them go through all these reminders? I said, “Look, perhaps you can do separate reminders for them. It could be an on demand because obviously, they’re already past these due dates and then you don’t have to wait until they reach until their last followup. You can essentially escalate them to ARMA.” Because again, the key is actioning them as soon as you can rather than waiting. Like Eddie said, don’t leave it too late.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. And mixing it up. If you’re just doing stuff that you might have previously done at an early stage and didn’t get a result, then there’s a strong chance you might continue to get, I guess, no engagement out of them. So it’s identifying those customers and acting swiftly, I think is the key there. Understanding where you’re in the process and if you need a leverage, I guess the experts with the third-party collection agency, we can certainly step in there and change it up and see if we can get a result.

Jane Evio:

Absolutely. Hey, Eddie, I just wanted to answer this question that was raised in Q&A because it’s very related to what we were discussing. And someone has asked in the Q&A, what can be done in the debt collection when a customer vanishes and become uncontactable?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. There’s certainly a lot that can be done there.

Jane Evio:

So you have your powers.

Eddie Smith:

Without giving away all our tips and tricks, look, I guess most collection agencies get access to unique databases, which allows us to be able to get access to information around new address details, new email addresses, new contact details. There’s the credit bureau, which has a lot of information around the business. But most of the time, you need to look a little bit deeper and look at the owners or look at the directors. And so we’ve got different databases that we can access to be able to get or see if we can get new information.

Eddie Smith:

So we’ve had a lot of businesses turn to us and say, “Look, this business has skipped. This business has closed down. How do we find the people that we were previously contacting with?” And we can run that through what we call a skiptrace, a skiptrace report, and we can hit all those different databases and come back to you with a report to say, “Look, we’ve got a match here. We couldn’t find this. We couldn’t find this, but it looks like we’ve got a lead here.” And then we can continue to pursue that. So it is definitely a tool in our toolkit, and we can certainly help you guys if you’re feeling like the customer is just completely disengaged and just haven’t been able to get in contact with them. Most certainly, don’t give up there. Let us know and get in contact and we can see if we can help you out.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic. That’s really good to hear. And I think it also ties when you monitor your customer’s lifecycle. So if they’re going into that, maybe there’s a change of ownership, you get that alert if you’re monitoring your customers in ezyCollect. And then you can do a credit right there and then and maybe pick up the phone and see, is John still the director of that business or not? Jane is now the business owner.

Eddie Smith:

That’s exactly right.

Jane Evio:

There’s a change there, and then you can change your credit terms right away or perhaps be on the top of their list to get paid first rather than all the other suppliers on the pipeline.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah, exactly.

Jane Evio:

Excellent. All right. So those are really great tips, Eddie.

Jane Evio:

So Lisa from Skillinvest has obviously been using ezyCollect and also ARMA, so she has a lot obviously to share with us today. Now, Lisa, just to get a complete overview, can you just let us know, let our attendees know, what was the biggest pain points and frustrations before using ezyCollect and ARMA?

Lisa Arnfield:

So we’re a very large organization as you previously mentioned, and we had some older server-based software packages that I walked into, and we had only a handful of staff that were actually having to manage everything manually. So it was diary entries or Outlook reminders and stuff like that. We were just really not getting ahead of the system and ahead of basically the debt collection process in itself because there’s so much that had to be done. And because of our organization being so diverse, we’re also dealing with students, we’re dealing with host employers, we’re dealing with quite large organizations, right through to family-run farms where they’re employing their own children. So it’s very, very difficult. It’s not one process fits all. That was quite complex for us and quite difficult, and we needed to find a solution to move forward, and that’s where ezyCollect and ARMA Group came in.

Jane Evio:

And what were the specific solutions that made you look for something like ezyCollect? Because I know obviously, there’s a lot available there, and with all these problems that you say, there’s manual processes on the side and finding the right ERP as well to handle your ledger and all that stuff, that’s already a big job by itself. Right? What made you look for a platform like ezyCollect in terms of, okay, this is the right solution for us?

Lisa Arnfield:

So we looked at basically a holistic approach. So obviously, we didn’t want to run individual companies because we have got a few different arms. We wanted a holistic approach that we could integrate with MYOB Advanced because we use MYOB Advanced as our main finance platform. And we wanted a flow through effect where one system talks to the rest and they all work very nicely and cohesively together and give us the outcome that we needed. So a lot of investigation went into what would be the best suited programs and solutions for our organization. And it was an absolute no-brainer in the end. The partnership between ezyCollect and ARMA Group, it just works, and I cannot thank you guys enough. So yeah, it’s fantastic. We’d highly recommend it.

Jane Evio:

Excellent. Thank you so much for that, Lisa. I think that’s the key, is to have that integrated and seamless approach, integrating from MYOB to ezyCollect and then ezyCollect to ARMA, and then you have the online payment solution. So I just want to show here, what was achieved after using ezyCollect and the impact for Skillinvest? And so this is actually an average for six months, if I’m not mistaken. Is that correct, Lisa?

Lisa Arnfield:

Correct. Yes.

Jane Evio:

Yeah. So there is obviously a big impact here. We were able to use automation and invoices being stand up via ezyCollect as well as communication, so over 5,000 over a course of six months. Imagine sending that one by one manually and having that communication or reminders.

Lisa Arnfield:

Correct. It’s been a [crosstalk 00:35:48].

Jane Evio:

Yeah, sorry.

Lisa Arnfield:

Sorry, Jane, for cutting you off. It’s been a fantastic process to see the frustration in the beginning of just how are we going to get there and seeing all the money outstanding. And we’ve actually previously, prior to ARMA Group, we’ve had to write off a lot of debts, dealing with younger students and small families and small businesses, lodgement fees for debt collection agencies were significant and then also the on-costs. The debt itself was not worth handing over, if you can understand what I mean, whereas … and then the whole process, it was just easier for us to write it off, but all those little amounts add up in the end. And honestly, our saving grace was ARMA Group because they have certainly been able to assist us with that whole rehabilitation process and that working with our student cohort, which has been fantastic. So I’d highly recommend that if you deal in that sector.

Jane Evio:

That’s really great to hear, Lisa. I think some of our clients here also have that fear like, “Yeah, it’s just small amounts so let’s just write them off.” And then by the time you can see, oh, you’ve written off 10K almost of invoices and debts, which is obviously at the end of the day, that’s cash flow that should be going back into your business, investing to your people, investing to your technology and so forth. So it’s really good to hear. So how was the experience in terms of that recovery with ARMA? So obviously, ARMA has given lots of great tips. I’m sure you’ve worked with them and they’ve given you all those tips plus more.

Lisa Arnfield:

It’s been extremely seamless. To be honest, it’s been a joy, which is one of the things that we’ve always dread. When you look at debt collection, it’s never an easy process. And in the light of the situation we’ve dealt with in the last two years with COVID, it’s been very difficult. But what I can tell you is it has been a joy working with the ARMA Group team. They have been fantastic. They’ve made our lives a lot easier, and they certainly have, like Eddie was saying, it has not damaged any of our customer relations. It is in fact, in some instances, have strengthened it because we’ve been able to-

Jane Evio:

Great to hear.

Lisa Arnfield:

… really rehabilitate those students or those host employers or the customers we’re dealing with because it’s understanding their situation and working with them. And like you, Jane, and Eddie have said before as well, is once we got a handle on our debt collection process, to work with the systems in partnership, to have ezyCollect there and we could actually manage our workflows. We adjusted it to suit our needs for our customers. And then with their managing of our escalations or managing our reporting structure within the ezyCollect system with the credit insights, we were able to actually jump on top of stuff easier and quicker. And then bringing the ARMA Group on board, we were able to, and we we’ve been one of those customers who’ve done bulk handovers, and that has been fantastic to do a bulk transfer from ezyCollect to ARMA Group for handover. It’s been a phenomenal process, and I don’t think I would have ever said that at talking about debt collection.

Jane Evio:

That’s really good to hear. It’s also good to hear when you say you’re still doing business with those clients that you’ve escalated to ARMA because I think that’s key. People are scared that, okay, once they have gone through debt collection, that’s the end of our relationship kind of thing. They’re not going to be our customers anymore. But you want to maintain them, right? These are years of customers’ dealings and relationship that you’ve established so you want to be able to continue that. So that’s really good to hear.

Lisa Arnfield:

Correct, 100%. And we’ve actually been able to do that, which has been fantastic.

Jane Evio:

That’s good. And in terms of your payments experience using ezyCollect, I know that you have all the payment options available to your customers. How’s the feedback from your customers and in terms of having this available to them?

Lisa Arnfield:

They’ve really, really loved it. So we use every part of your system, the SMS, the workflows, the emails, everything, and it has been phenomenal. So our customers, we’ve had a very, very good uptake, and the customers love it. They can deal with the SMSs or the emails when it comes through and make the payments at a click of a button, the pay now buttons or having the alternative payment plan options. It has been fantastic and actually has helped us a lot in bringing in the money quicker, on time, and also are combating some of those very sensitive issues that we have dealt with. We can also tell immediately if they viewed an invoice, if they viewed an email, and make those follow-up communications fairly quick and straightforward. So I think the communication lines between our customers and ourselves have opened up a lot more and have been more successful, is feedback that we have gotten. Yeah.

Jane Evio:

Oh, that’s really good to hear. Eddie, I just want to thank you as well, obviously great experience from Lisa, hearing from her first hand. So that’s really good, and I’m sure that relationship will continue because it’s never ending in terms of collection process. So it’s really good to hear that.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah, certainly. It’s been great to hear that positive feedback. Our team loves working with Lisa, and I think it’s that true partnership with all us three really. With the ezyCollect at the early stage, working seamlessly with Lisa and our team and then transitioning that debt once it gets to a certain stage for us to be able to step in there and get the results has led to a really successful partnership. So we look forward to continuing that.

Lisa Arnfield:

Hundred percent, and one that we’ll continue for years to come.

Eddie Smith:

Fantastic.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic. And obviously, separate to this ARMA offer, if you’re not utilizing any of those payment solutions that we have as well as the risk management, Lisa mentioned the credit insights to look at which of your customers are actually in the late stage risk. Talk to our team and obviously we’ll provide you also a free consultation to look into that and see if it’s the right solution for you. Now, as we go to the end, we have two questions that we just quickly want to go through. One of them is, I think this is for you, Eddie, if you can help?

1. Can ARMA collect debt from de-registered entity?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah, tough one. Typically, if the entity is de-registered, then it makes it pretty difficult for us. There is a process, depending on the size of the debt that you can go through to see if you can get them re-registered, but they shouldn’t be de-registering if they still have debts owing. So sometimes you can call them out on that, but it is a tricky process. My tip there would be to ensure that you’re monitoring that ABN through one of the credit bureaus, that if an update comes through ASIC on them looking to de-register the entity, we can get ahead of that prior to it being too late.

Jane Evio:

Yeah, absolutely. Monitor them now, Lucy. So if they’re on ezyCollect, you can actually monitor your customers that you think are at risk so that you will get a heads up first before they actually get to that stage.

Jane Evio:

And we have a final question. I want to ask this, of course, Eddie and Lisa, and I’ll give my input later on after you guys.

2. But what do you think in terms of providing an instalment payment option? We have a question here from Belinda. Do you guys have a formula for instalment amounts? So I just want to hear from your experience and how you do this from your perspective.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. I can start. Most of our customers like to get most debts wrapped up within three months. So usually, that’s the guidelines that we usually try and stick by. Anything outside of that, I guess we deem the customer to be in some form of financial hardship, and if they are, then we’ve got a different process, but I guess yeah, three months is usually most, I guess, the timeframe that a lot of our customers like, and I guess it’s just working with them, working backwards. How can we get this paid off within that period?

Lisa Arnfield:

I agree with Eddie. That works really well. I wouldn’t go any longer than that, otherwise it becomes a problem. Yeah.

Eddie Smith:

Yeah.

Jane Evio:

Excellent. Yeah. As you’ve heard from Lisa and Eddie, obviously three months is the best practice or the suggested one, but again look into your business, talk to your customers and see how much from your business perspective can you actually extend that? Is it worth it to do a weekly payment rather than monthly payments or quarterly payments, depending on the service or the goods that you’ve provided for this that you want to make sure that they can actually pay that? Again, looking at data. Can they pay it over a three-month period or is it worth doing it in a one-month, in a weekly basis kind of thing?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. Just back on the de-registered, one thing to consider that if you have a contract in place where you have a personal guarantee against one of the owners, then that may be an avenue for you to pursue where you can then redirect your attention to the individual as opposed to the business. So it comes back to, I guess, setting those right terms and conditions that if you do have that within your contract where you get them to sign personal guarantees, it gives you that extra little bit of protection that if the business does fail or tries to de-register, you’ve got another avenue to pursue.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic. Thanks for that, Eddie. I just want to address here and thank Katrina for giving us, it’s not really a question, but it’s a comment. She said that a hundred percent, ezyCollect have the all in one place process. So thank you so much for that, Katrina. I know you’ve had vast of experiencing credit management, so really appreciate your feedback on that one.

Jane Evio:

And finally, we’ve come to the end of our webinar. Like I said, please talk to the ezyCollect team if you want to utilize any of the other solutions that we have that you’re not utilizing yet. Obviously, we have this special offer with ARMA that you can have consultation and you will all get an email on how to get this free consultation with ARMA. So just the final words, I will leave it to Lisa and Eddie. Is there anything you want to tell our attendees today or some good advice perhaps?

Eddie Smith:

Yeah. Well, if you need extra help, if you’re stuck on any tricky customers, feel free to reach out. We can run through some scenarios and see what might be the best or most appropriate collection method to be able to try and get your invoices paid.

Jane Evio:

Fantastic.

Lisa Arnfield:

And for me, please, if you have any debt collection issues or you’re looking at a new system or process, please talk to these guys. I cannot recommend them any higher. We’ve worked with some significant debt collection processes and organizations in the past and have never had the success we are having right now. So thank you, guys, and let’s keep up the good work.

Jane Evio:

Thank you so much, Lisa. That’s what we’re all about. So glad to hear the customer success that’s having that customer-centric approach, extending it to our partners like Eddie. It’s really good to hear. And once again, thank you so much for all the attendees that have joined us today. Again, if you have any questions, please email me directly, but we’ll also send you a copy of this webinar plus a special offer that we have for all our attendees. Once again, thank you and have a great day. Bye.

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