XeroCon attendees were presented with several suggestions for improving their cash flow.
Xeroc hief marketing officer (and small business owner) Andy Lark went for the basics. "Invoice and send the moment the job is done." That makes a lot of sense, as few clients or customers will pay before you ask them to.
So you invoice promptly, but what next?
Andrew Tokeley, Xero business product manager, outlined the 'auto reminders' feature that will arrive in Xero within the next 90 days. The idea is that Xero automatically sends reminder emails when an invoice is 7, 14 or 21 days overdue, or whatever other period is selected.
These emails can include links to a PDF of the relevant invoice, and there is an option to exclude invoices below a certain value - you might not want to pester customers about small debts.
There's also the capability to send a reminder just before an invoice is due, to help head off the old 'sorry, I seem to have lost your invoice' excuse.
If you're looking for something a bit more sophisticated, Chaser integrates with Xero (so you know it is working with up-to-date figures) but can consolidate a customer's outstanding invoices into one reminder, and provides finer control over when reminders are sent (eg, at 11am on weekdays, but not on public holidays).
Prices start at $20 for up to 20 invoices chased in a month, and a free trial is available.
We won't reproduce them here, but we will draw your attention to ezyCollect's '5 Things You Should Be Doing Right Now To Reduce Outstanding Accounts Receivable', which is available here (registration required). The company offers a reminder service driven from Xero, MYOB or EXO, using email, SMS, letters and phone calls. Like Chaser, it consolidates a debtor's overdue invoices into one reminder.
Prices start at $45 a month, and the 30 day free trial period is doubled if you don't see an improvement in your collections.
uCollect takes a different approach. Rather than relying on reminders, it provides a facility that automatically charges the customer's credit card or bank account - with prior approval, naturally - on the day a Xero invoice falls due. This is probably more useful for dealing with consumers rather than other businesses, and in situations where it is normal to provide a certain amount of credit. We're thinking in terms of businesses such as garden services (mow the grass fortnightly but bill monthly) and swim schools (lessons once or twice a week, but with monthly billing).
Prices start at $13 a month, with a 30 day free trial.