It can be one of the most frustrating things in business. You've done a great job, delivered a great product. And then your customer doesn't pay on time. Too much revenue sitting in accounts receivable can seriously damage a business's cash flow. Here are four tips to help you manage and minimize those dollars sitting in accounts receivable: Tip #1 Prepare for accounts receivable__before they happen. In every business, it's a certainty__if you extend credit, you will have customers who won't pay on time. To minimize the number of dollars in accounts receivable each month, you need a formal process for: determining how and when you'll extend credit issuing timely and accurate invoices that identify credit terms tracking systems that automatically alert you when accounts are coming due automated systems that flag milestones in the collection process (ex: due, 15 days past due, 30 days past due) and initiate a follow up response (phone call, letter, etc.) escalating delinquent accounts for further action Tip#2 Know the facts before you escalate a receivable to collections. Before you send a sternly written collection notice or submit an accounts receivable to collections, be sure you've actually communicated with your customer to see why they haven't paid. There will be some times when it's a simple oversight, or the check really did get lost in the mail. A good test is to see how your customer reacts when you bring the late payment (politely) to their attention. If they immediately look into the problem and issue you a check, simply chalk it up to experience (and remember to say __thank you__). Tip#3 Communication is the key. Keep it professional and consistent. To communicate means to __connect__. Be sure that the media you're using to inform your customers about late payments fits with how they typically communicate. It's a good idea to mix up the ways that you notify customers about delinquent payments (email, phone, letter mail, etc.). As you find a customer's preferred way to communicate, make a note of it in their file. Always keep it professional. That means keeping a cool head and having your facts ready before you make the call. If you can't keep your cool when discussing money with a customer, pass the job to a qualified individual who can. Be consistent. A customer should know that as soon as their account becomes overdue, they're going to hear from you. Remember, by not following up consistently on accounts receivable, you are training your customers that it's okay to pay you late. Tip#4 Get help if you need it. If the idea of tracking invoices and following up on late payments makes you break into a cold sweat, consider outsourcing your accounts receivable management to a professional accounts receivable management company. You can leverage their experience, processes and knowledge to greatly improve your accounts receivable follow-up without the headaches and hassle of doing it in-house. For more information about Accuttrac's AR Management, visit www.accutraccapital.com.