How one firm reduced their client’s time spent on credit control by 90%

5 min read

Gary Fordham is the Finance Director at Olivers Mill, a London-based commercial cleaning company, 400+ staff strong, serving clients from SMEs through to blue chip corporations. Having benefited from considerable growth in recent years, Olivers Mill’s legacy finance function was bursting at the seams trying to keep up. Spending around 20 hours per week on running their manual credit control practices for a low return, and with no budget to bring on dedicated credit controllers, Olivers Mill’s cash flow was becoming unduly pressured.

Olivers Mill logo with A4G LLP logo

Thanks to the strategic thinking and support of their accountants, A4G in West Kingsdown, Olivers Mill was smoothly transitioned from Sage Line 50 onto Xero and Chaser in July 2017. Their credit control function vastly improved, bringing them a 90% reduction in the time cost of managing it, and a nearly 20% increase in response rate to payment chasing. Gary said:

“Since bringing on Chaser, delinquent payments are all but gone. Our cash flow has improved radically.”

The Problem

Although Gary had long recognised there were issues with their credit control function, the solution lay beyond the tools he had available to him. That is, the problem didn’t lie within their processes. Rather, their resources.

The difficulty of integrating apps with Sage Line 50 meant not only did Olivers Mill have poor availability of tools to aid their credit control, any integration they could undertake would be complex, costly, and error-prone. This left Gary and his team with the painful task of printing aged debtor reports and manually chasing hundreds of customers, with no dedicated credit controller to take point or the budget to bring one on. Credit control had become a dangerously unprioritised task that was passed around the finance team, to whoever had spare time on the day to do it.

These poor quality, manual credit control practices were costly: on average 20 hours per week were being spent chasing, and the decentralised operation left too great a margin of human error. In the worst cases, debtors would be left for 10-12 weeks without meaningful chasing. And Olivers Mill’s cash flow was impacted for the worse.

Enter A4G

Approaching their 2016-17 year-end meeting with Olivers Mill, A4G weren’t content with just going through the motions. Despite having already solidified a strong, long-term relationship with their client, they refused to rest on their laurels and seized the initiative to continue to bring added value to Olivers Mill. Keeping a keen eye on the rapidly-developing accounting app space, A4G proactively seek out how they can leverage it for the benefit of their clients.

Being a user of Chaser themselves to manage their own firm’s credit control function, A4G had validated first-hand the value of cloud credit control software, and have gone on to promote the app as part of their cash flow and dependency reduction planning. They were ready to leverage it as a key element of the technology overhaul they had planned for Olivers Mill. When they met with Gary, they laid out their strategy - to transition Olivers Mill to a modernised suite of cloud accounting software. Chiefly, Xero and Chaser. With A4G’s own debtor days at an all-time low since bringing on Chaser, they were in a well-informed position to strongly recommend it to their client.

Xero logo with Chaser logo

Reservations

Gary wasn’t without reservations. With anything new, particularly when it involves company finances, being cautiously optimistic is the natural approach of an FD. Two major concerns was present in Gary’s mind - just how heavy-handed is the management of Chaser going to be and are Chaser’s automated emails just going to be ignored by our clients?

With the goal being to not only improve debtor days but also reduce the time input to achieve them, Gary had to have a tool that was intuitive and user-friendly. And to see results from Chaser, he needed the automated email chasers to maintain the human touch.

Thanks to A4G’s strong relationship with Olivers Mill, Gary was convinced to follow their recommendation and take advantage of Chaser’s 14-day free trial to see for himself what it could do for Olivers Mill.

Enter Chaser

From the first automated chase, Gary was pleasantly surprised at the high rate of response from clients and the engagement the automated email chasers were getting. For a one-time setup of Chaser which Gary described as “painless,” he and his team now benefit from a 90% reduction in the time cost of managing their credit control. Spending now two hours on it per week, Gary and his team only need to respond to queries, negotiate any necessary revised payment plans, and lightly tweak Chaser’s settings to optimise their results.

With a consistent and structured approach to credit control now in place with Chaser, response rates to email chasers have risen nearly 20% for Olivers Mill. But Gary cites that what’s made the biggest impact for him is that they’re no longer time-constrained to chase only the most severe overdue invoices.

“What’s infinitely better with Chaser compared to manual credit control is the coverage. I can know for sure that every debtor I want to be chased will be chased by Chaser. That wasn’t really possible when we were doing it manually."

Gary says that it’s now rare for a client to remain silent after the second chaser, with many responding positively after the first. The margin of human error in managing the credit control function has also shrunk by magnitudes across the team.

“Before Chaser, human error was an unfortunate reality for us. We would’ve been as challenged in this regard as any other company out there. But now with Chaser, there just isn’t any scope for human error, really.”

A4G <> Olivers Mill

Gary couldn’t be more thankful to A4G for introducing him to Chaser, stating:

“Chaser is now an integral part of our business and we can already barely remember life without it.”

A4G’s strategic thinking and proactive recommendation to Gary and his team have dramatically transformed the finance function at Olivers Mill for the better. Speaking of their relationship with A4G, Gary said:

“We couldn’t really be closer. The relationship is as solid as it could possibly be with an accounting partner. A4G will be on the scene for a long time to come.”


Are you an accountant or bookkeeper who wants to increase value to clients, gain revenue, and solidify client relationships? Click here to learn more about why Chaser will benefit your firm and clients today.

Header image modified from photo courtesy of Brad Neathery via Unsplash.

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