Poorly piggy bank

RCP Recommendations for Working Constructively with Customers with Mental Health Problems

Credit collection is rarely easy, whether you’re working with a debt collection agency, or whether it’s part of your job as an employee or owner of a business. It can be difficult to collect money from debtors regardless of the situation, but if you are working with a debtor who has a mental illness or is affected by another problem such as addiction, it can become a great deal more complicated. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has identified a number of “best practice” solutions that can help make the process easier for collections staff as well as the customer, with more favourable results for both.

One in four UK adults will be affected by a mental illness in their lifetime, and 50% of UK adults who have debt problems have a mental illness. There’s a strong and clear link between mental illness and debt, and the link goes both ways: people with mental illnesses are more likely to have unmanageable debt, and people with unmanageable levels of debt are at risk of developing certain types of mental illness. As well as this, someone with a mental illness has a much higher risk of experiencing severe stress and anxiety, and greater strain on personal and professional relationships, as a result of unmanageable debt. It’s also worth noting that people with mental health issues also have an increased risk of developing an addiction to alcohol or illicit drugs, which can further compound both mental health and debt problems.Poorly piggy bank

Sensitivity Training for Collections Workers

In response to this problem, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, together with the Money Advice Trust and Rethink Mental Illness, developed a short training course for staff, managers, and business owners who are involved in debt collection and invoice recovery. Collections employees in many large organizations have undergone such training, including those in banks and debt agencies. Training can include in-house sessions, e-learning modules, and public training sessions, depending on the requirements of the individual or company, and is designed to help credit collections staff deal effectively and sensitively with debtors who have mental health issues.

In addition to the training course, the Royal College of Psychiatrists developed a set of guidelines for collections staff working with debtors affected by mental illnesses. Both the training course and the guidelines were created using survey data obtained from collections staff working for organizations such as banks, credit card companies, and mortgage lenders.

Included among the recommendations from the Royal College of Psychiatrists are suggestions that business owners and debt collection agencies do the following:

  • Develop a comprehensive policy that outlines staff responsibilities and options for dealing with creditors who are affected by mental health problems;
  • Ensure that the policy includes disclosure to customers so that they’re aware that they can share information about their mental health and be confident that the information will be used appropriately;
  • Provide staff with sensitivity and awareness training in keeping with collections policy.

Why is Sensitivity Training Important?

For collections staff, deciding how best to recover debt from a customer with a mental illness is an extremely common occurrence: on average it happens every 30 seconds in the UK. While collections staff aren’t trained medical or mental health professionals, it’s still important to understand the link between mental health and debt, and understand the problems that sometimes make it more difficult for people with mental illnesses to manage their finances. Firstly, it’s important simply because of the need to treat all customers fairly and with respect, and secondly, because sensitivity training that helps staff deal with people in such situations can help them recover debt more effectively.



Mental Health Debt. “Lending, debt collection, and mental health: training and guidance for creditor staff.” Accessed June 18, 2014. Collections staff sensitivity training.

Mind. “Still in the Red: Update on debt and mental health.” Accessed June 18, 2014. Guidelines for good-practice debt collection.

Money Advice Trust. “Debt and Mental Health.” Accessed June 18, 2014. Link between mental health and debt crisis.

Recovery Resource Directory: Treatment 4 Addiction. “Treatment Programs for Alcohol Abuse.” Accessed June 18, 2014. Problems relating to substance addiction.

Royal Bank of Scotland. “A Guide to the Lending Code.” Accessed April 28, 2014. Information on debt help.

RoyalCollegeof Psychiatrists. “Debt collection and mental health: ten steps to improve recovery.” Accessed June 18, 2014. RCP recommendations for debt collection.

How To Collect A Debt From A Client

The Best Ways to Chase Overdue Invoices For Small Business Owners

One of the biggest stresses faced by freelancers, small business owners, and other people who work for themselves is chasing overdue invoices and recovering other monies owed to them. In fact, many freelancers report that they spend more time chasing monies owed for their work than actually completing the work at all. Chasing payments is awkward, embarrassing and, more importantly, it’s costing you money! Looking for a few hints and tips on dealing with the problem? Here are a few quick and easy solutions:

Be As Clear As Possible  

It’s understandable that occasionally some companies and individuals can struggle to pay their invoices on time, and that that can lead to a large amount of stress and anxiety for them and you.[1] More often, however, the money to pay you is available, but your ability to receive it is being delayed by process and red tape. One way to cut this red tape is to ensure that your invoices are as clear and easy to understand as possible: don’t assume the person in payroll will know who you are and what you’re invoicing for.[2] Lack of information could delay the payment process, leading to unnecessary stress for you. Your invoice should always include your name and company name, all of your contact details, payment terms (usually 30 days) and details, and a description of the work you have carried out. Make it as specific as possible including dates when the work was carried out so that the value you are adding to the business is laid out. This means the company you are dealing with has no excuse not to pay you on time.

Pick Up The Phone

Nothing wrong with your invoice but still haven’t received your payment? This is the part of the invoicing process people generally find the most awkward. Although it requires being more forward than you might like, the best way to deal with this problem is to pick up the phone rather than fire off another email. It is interesting to note that the law says an invoice is late if it hasn’t been paid after 30 days, and that you are able to charge ‘statutory interest’ on any overdue payments- this is 8% plus the Bank of England base rate[3] for business to business transactions.[4] Knowing your rights is important before you pick up the phone to call your client, and you shouldn’t be afraid to assert them. It is also worth having a digital copy of your invoice to hand before you pick up the phone, so that if the payroll department claims they haven’t received your invoice you can email it over whilst they are still on the line. Preparation is key before you pick up the phone: you need to know what you want, when you want it, and what your next steps will be if the company is unable to meet these demands.

Time to Stop

If you remain unpaid after a significant period of time (say, 30 days after the originally payment terms period has expired) and you are still carrying out additional work for your client then it’s time to put a stop on their account, and stop generating work for free. It’s important that you know your worth:[5] Small and Medium Enterprises (SME)[6] like you make up 99% of all UK businesses, and without good cash flow many of these businesses will fail. 44% of young SMEs have run out of cash or come very close: don’t let your business become one of the statistic that fail because someone else can’t organize their cash flow!

Sick of dealing with late or nonpaying clients and want to remove the problem so that you can focus on more important aspects of your business?  If you need help in your business to improve cashflow and implement some quick debt collection strategies, please give us a call to see how we can help you out, please email enquiries@tauruscollections.com or call 0843 309 1633


[1] “How to recognise and deal with debt stress”, moneyhttp://www.money.co.uk/article/1009742-how-to-recognise-and-deal-with-debt-stress.htm

[2] “Show me the money: Our guide to payment chasing”, Freelance Advisorhttp://www.freelanceadvisor.co.uk/go-freelance-guide/show-me-the-money-our-guide-to-payment-chasing/

[3] “Bank of England maintains bank rate at 0.5% and the size of the Asset Purchase Programme at £375 billion”, Bank of Englandhttp://www.bankofengland.co.uk//publications/Pages/news/2014/006.aspx

[4] “Late commercial payments: Charging interest and debt recovery”, Gov.uk , https://www.gov.uk/late-commercial-payments-interest-debt-recovery/charging-interest-commercial-debt

[5] “Facts and Statistics of Invoice Finance – A Lifeline for SMEs Infographic “, graphs.net, http://graphs.net/facts-and-statistics-of-invoice-finance-a-lifeline-for-smes.html

[6] “What is an SME?”, European Commissionhttp://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/sme/facts-figures-analysis/sme-definition/

Quick Debt Collection

Quick debt collection – how to identify excuses and then get your customers to pay!

Each month we see Debtors coming up with different excuses to delay payment.  But over time we have learnt that there is an easier way to achieve quick debt collection when it comes to long-term late payers.

Below is a list of excuses and potential methods to implement in your business which should result in quick debt collection and improved cashflow for you and your business:

  • The Debtor is always busy or out of the office – this is a common tactic for delaying payments as the onus is on you to spend more time chasing them, and the Debtor knows you likely to put them to the bottom of the pile if they cannot be spoken to.  A method to work around this is to speak to a Senior Manager or fellow Director, perhaps another employee associated with the work you did for them and advise them of the situation and the urgent nature of the position.  Request an immediate call back, take their email and then follow-up with that person in 2 days by email.  A written correspondence chaser, such as this, makes it more difficult to ignore and is a formal request, as oppose to leaving a message which may never reach the right person at all.
  • The Debtor never received your invoice – another excuse, but can sometimes be genuine, and the best way to resolve this to enable quick debt collection is to have the Invoice ready to be emailed whilst you are on the phone.  Whenever you make a call you should always have a digital PDF copy in front of you, then just say to the Debtor, “I will just email you it now and then let me know you have got it” once they confirm on the phone, request immediate payment by asking for the next available payment run.  If that is not within 7 days, request an urgent one-off BACS transfer.
  • The cheque is in the post – this excuse is as old as quick debt collection itself and you should be ready and armed for this one!  Again strict procedures are required to ensure a fast resolution to this problem.  Ask them: date it was sent, exact amount sent, cheque number and whether it was sent 1st or 2nd class, then if it was more than 7 days ago request they cancel the cheque and either pay by BACS, or send 1st class today.  The good thing is here, they have admitted the Debt and an excuse such as Rate Query or Dispute cannot now be used to delay the payment further.

So these are just a few of the stories we here in our every day mission to ensure quick debt collection for our clients, and we hope this information is helpful to you and your business if (or should we say when!) you come across slow-payers.

If you need help in your business to improve cashflow and implement some quick debt collection strategies, please give us a call to see how we can help you out, please email enquiries@tauruscollections.com or call 0843 309 1633

Credit control services for business - protect cash

Credit control services for business – are you protecting your cash?

Many businesses we speak to swear-by one thing, and that is cash is king.

It is a much-used phrase in the world of small-medium sized businesses but the next consideration is how do you treat cash as king? Good, reliable credit control services for business, particularly for SME turnover companies, can be the lifeblood of their organisation and is often as important as the survival of the business.

Imagine a debt has not been chased until 60 days overdue.  The company owner believes the invoice has been sent out and therefore payment will “automatically get paid” on 30 days, and thinks after speaking to the customer who didn’t have a copy of the invoice that payment on the following month (another 30 days) won’t do any damage.  The following month on the due date (90 days) the customer raises a rate query on the invoice and this then takes 30 days back-and-forward in emails to prove the right figure was quoted and then the invoice will be paid on the next months payment run.  We are now at 120 days, and good credit control services for business would have provided that business-owner with the resolution to these delays within days, not months.

Here are some points that credit control services for business can help with:

  • Pre-emptive action – Call before the invoice is due, make sure they have a copy and that there are no problems with it (HINT: they nearly always tell you a payment date in this call, often without asking)
  • Timely follow-up – Call on the due date and ensure credit control services for business procedure is followed, and then confirm the payment date is within the next 7 days
  • Fast action on late invoices – strict procedures are crucial and knowing when to escalate the Debt to a 3rd party or Solicitor could be the difference between your business survival and its struggle to stay on the right side of a bank overdraft.

Fast, professional, and punctual credit control services for business can help you improve cashflow, reduce debtor days and earn respect from your customers that you are an organised and professional operation.

If you would like to chat about how we might be able to help you out with credit control services for business, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0843 309 1633 or email enquiries@tauruscollections.com

Recover aged debt

How do you recover aged debt?

Over the years, our clients often ask us what is the most-effective method to recover aged debt.  It is an age old question in a shaky economic recovery and we find the simplest way of looking at the problem, is to keep it simple.

To recover aged debt you need to have very strict procedures in place that your whole company can follow.  With our clients being of all sizes, from 1-100 staff members, the same policies should be in place for the unwanted problem of collecting debts.

Here are 3 steps to follow when you are looking to recover aged debt:

  • Call your customers – you will be surprised how many debts we handle from clients that have never actually received a call about the debt.  This can often be due to time-restraints or resources, but this is crucial to “dealing with the problem head-on” and resolving the issue quickly.
  • Send letters – there should be a combination of letters and calls when you want to recover aged debt quickly, so if after 45 days you have not received payment, send a 7-day letter, then quickly follow-up with a final demand, interspersed with 2 calls to ensure full communication has been made with your customer.
  • Speak to a 3rd party – once a debt has gone beyond 60 days old, and you have not received a response from letters and calls, chances are that your customer either can’t pay or won’t pay.  At this point, you will be taken less seriously, and in-house collections are up to 80% less effective.  Only escalation to a 3rd party often warrant the best and quickest outcome when you are looking to recover aged debt at this stage.


It is imperative that business owners implement a credit policy of this sort when dealing with late-payers because standardised procedures will demonstrate to your debtors that you are serious about getting paid.

When you want to recover aged debt in future consider the procedures above and don’t leave it too late by letting your debt go bad in 2014.

If you would like a no-obligation chat about how to recover aged debt or any specific debt issues you are facing, please don’t hesitate to call us on 0843 309 1633 or email enquiries@tauruscollections.com

Collection of a Debt

Collection of a debt – getting your customers to pay!

Collection of a debt – how to win over your customers and get them to pay!

Here’s a few rules when considering how your collection of a debt will be most successful, in tough economical times, getting your customers to pay you is more of a science than an art:

1) Keep talking – constant dialogue between you and your customers is important for collection of a debt because you are always on your customers mind, even if their next invoice is not due for another week, put in a courtesy call to make sure there are no issues BEFORE the invoice becomes overdue.

2) Invoice quickly – you cannot perform a collection of a debt until your customers payment terms have run, and so it’s crucial your invoicing is up to date and issued on the day of the sale, preferably emailed PDF so you have a trail of who you sent it to, and there can be no “lost copies”. Invoicing quicker means you get paid quicker.

3) Use your resources – if you have a problem and collection of a debt is an issue, meet with your sales team and get them involved in the collection of a debt. This was their sale after all, they should take responsibility – a sale is not a sale until the money is in the bank.

4) Speak to a professional – seek out a solicitor or collection agency for professional advice. These experts usually provide a free consultation and assess your chances of a succesful collection of a debt, some will not charge you a penny until the collection of a debt has been made – so a great way to do business, free up your time to get more sales and keeping your cash-flow healthy.

This is just a brief snippet of how the burden of collection of a debt can be eased when you implement just a few procedures in your business and take time to understand that collection processes do not always have to be long drawn out affairs.

Remember your cash-flow is king, and it is imperative to your businesses survival to keep on top of your collections. Debt collection keeps you in business!

Collecting invoices

Why is it important for SMEs to consider collection agency rates?

For most businesses these days collection agency rates are crucial when choosing a collection agency that is right for them, whether they be locally based, be the biggest in the business, or recommended by a business colleague: the decision can usually boil down to price. Collection agency rates, when considered as a small % of the debt collected, can be extremely reasonable and cost-effective to an SME. Once you factor in the time it takes to chase your debts, let alone the stress involved in typing up letters and follow-up action to cement a payment date, and then the customer not paying on that date anyway, collection agency rates work as a productive expense to your business.

A collection agency will often charge on a no win – no fee basis so in terms of your cash-flow this is the best way to do business. Only once your debt has been successfully collected will an invoice be issued to a business for the service, effectively saving you hours of time chasing your money, and outlaying zero money until you get paid.

Collection Agency rates which are competitive are usually calculated on the basis of a successful collection of 3-10% of the debt, which is a small price to pay to set against the time, money and resources an SME would have to put in to successfully collect yourself.

Not least, also, a collection agency knows how to communicate with your customer: in a clear, firm way, and has the technology to schedule follow up action and instigate litigation if necessary. It is imperative collection agency rates are set according to the % debt, and the effectiveness of speed in contacting your customers we feel outweighs the savings on any fees you might not have considered before.

Always consider competitive collection agency rates when protecting your business from bad debt – good debt collection keeps you in business!

Collecting a debt

Many small to medium sized businesses in the UK will employ a credit controller when collecting a debt and to manage their debt collection processes, some business owners even do it themselves in order to save time (by not having to tell someone else what to do) and money (by not paying an agency or outsourced company). However, this can be a false economy.

In-house debt collection can be effective to a point, and it is imperative to maintain strict credit control procedures when collecting a debt for new sales, but it is the time, money and resources in keeping up with the bad debts that we hear about most. All too often, we speak to business owners admitting their customers have “gone under the radar” due to having:

1) new business to gain

2) staff to manage

3) more important debts to chase!

We find a pro-active approach to collecting a debt is the most successful, pay close attention to your new debts, but pay even closer attention to your old debts. Collecting a debt is a time-consuming and arduous job and a Collection Agency has all the tools, and patience, to help you as a small business.

Is collecting a debt a problem for your business? Call us on 01332 565350 for a no obligation chat to see how we can help you out.

Business to business collection

Business to business collection – review your procedures to maximise your cashflow!

5 tips on how to maximise your cashflow and business to business collection!

With the UK economy looking ever-more unstable and growth on a less than steady course, it is more important than ever to implement strict procedures for business to business collection of accounts. You should look at trying to recover cash owed to you as swiftly and as cheaply as possible. You can achieve this by constantly reviewing your debtors and reinventing ways to encourage your customers to pay you on time. Small changes to the daily practices in your business, which can take very little time and effort to implement, can have a major positive impact on your long-term cash flow and ultimate sustainability.

Below are 4 things you can do today to improve your chances of getting paid on time, follow these and you are well on your way to boosting your companys cash collection rates:

1) Send Invoices ASAP – the quicker you invoice the quicker you get paid. For business to business collection, as soon as a job is finished get an invoice out to your customer. If they are with you when the job is completed, or if you can meet-up, then even better: hand it over in person and ask for payment . Even if you have agreed payment terms, a personal request face-to-face for payment can go a long way, and they may even write you a cheque out there and then.

2) Invoice accurately – make sure all the details on the invoice are 100% correct, phone up the customer to re-confirm if you have to. Getting it right first time can save a lot of delays further down the line when you need to get paid.

3) Call BEFORE the Invoice is overdue – why should you wait until an Invoice is past agreed payment terms until you start asking for payment? If you have agreed 30 day terms, phone up your customer after 14 days to make sure they have received the invoice and that there are no problems, then call back 5 days before due date to confirm they have your bank details for payment and if they have finalised a payment date for the Invoice. This keeps you ahead of the game and business to business collection as SMEs is all about being proactive – not reactive.

4) Give your customers payment options – on your Invoices you MUST include your bank details, address to send cheque to and who it is payable to. A common excuse we have heard in the past is that we didn’t have your bank details. Don’t let them use this excuse and always try and email a copy of the Invoice so you can refer back to your records for having sent it. If you can set-up an online payment system or credit card facility this is even better as this is quick and easy.

Remember, the implications of not getting your business to business collection solution right are grave. If you are owed amounts of money and your customers are dragging their heels, it is essential you take swift debt collection action to protect your long-term survival as a business.

Collection of invoices

Collection of invoices – 4 tips to protect your cashflow!

Many of our clients find collection of invoices can be a drain on their company’s resources of time, money and hassle. It is certainly true that due to the recent economic downturn SMEs are finding it ever more difficult to convince their customers, to who they extend credit in good faith, that payment should be made on time. After all, credit is a privilege not a right and you should not be faced with problematic collection of invoices when you put your trust in a customer to pay.

Whilst late-payers are often inevitable in this, and any, climate there are certain measures you can take to keep your cashflow pumping – ensuring that problems involved with collection of invoices are kept to a minimum:

1. Get a credit policy – this is essential to your business. Just as much as a business plan and a marketing plan. Without a credit policy your business is not making money but lending money. There has to be set procedures that your entire workforce can follow, so that they know your business is in business to make money. Search online for “Credit Policy Template” to get an idea and consider drawing one up immediately.

2. Make your customers apply for credit – a credit application can be the most important document you have as it holds all the details about your customer PRIOR to doing any work. From this you can check Trade references, bank accounts, credit history, address, contact details – all of which are crucial to locating your customer should they default. You MUST check out Trade references and find out if their previous suppliers have had problems with collection of invoices the past – any leniency in this department and you are setting your business up for a bad debt.

3. Maintain contact with your customers – once an invoice has been raised, call your customer after 14 days to make sure there are no problems with the invoice. Then 1 week before it is due make a courtesy call to ask if they have a payment date for the Invoice as you are putting together some cash-flow projections. The customer will not mind if the conversation is light, and by now if there is a query on the Invoice they will have had 2 opportunities to flag it up. This pro-active approach can often be crucial to timely collection of invoices, but is often overlooked by SMEs.

4. Invoice on time – one of the best actions you can take, that is in your control NOT your debtors, to speed up collection of invoices is to actually Invoice quickly. If you have a monthly date on which Invoices are sent out, consider revising this to weekly, or even on the day the work was completed. Quite simply: the quicker you invoice your customers, the quicker they can pay you.

There are many other preventative measures you can take to assist in your collection of invoices, but above are a few and this list is by no means exhaustive. Stay on top of your credit terms, remember you have worked hard to get your business up and running, successful collection of invoices keeps it that way!

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