Collections

See Also

 

Overview

For businesses that aren't running Chronicle, collections are often poorly managed at best. Collections often gets neglected until cash flow gets low, and even when it's done, it's time consuming, and documentation rarely makes it into the job file. Chronicle makes the process easier, faster, and more complete in many ways.

For Chronicle to be able to manage your collections, it must be linked to QuickBooks.

Typical Collections Process without Chronicle

Collections Process with Chronicle

Collections gets neglected until cash flow gets low.

Chronicle keeps you on top of the collections process; you know the status of all invoices before you have a problem.

1.

The manager or collections person must ask accounting for a receivable's list. Apart from this, the manager has no way of knowing which of his customers/adjustors are paying or not paying.

1.

The Collections Manager gives each manager or collections person immediate access to receivables without needing to go to anyone from accounting. You can immediately identify past due invoices, and you can filter out date ranges, invoices for an adjuster, and more.

2.

You call each customer on the list; phone numbers may not be with the list; so you have to look them up.

2.

You call each customer on the list; phone numbers are on the screen for each person responsible for payment. All job & contact info is only a click away, and emails to responsible people require just a click.

3.

The adjustor doesn't have your documents, so you must fax them again; each fax takes an average of 17 minutes (based on national average).

3.

The adjustor doesn't have your documents, so you resend them; this takes less than 30 seconds.

4.

You make notes on the receivable's list, but the notes never actually make it into the job file. Or, if you have a collections file for each job, you add notes to each file, but you spent a considerable amount of time handling the various files.

4.

You add notes directly in the Collections Manager: they immediately become a permanent part of the job's record.

5.

Your notes get lost, or perhaps they're just intermingled with other notes that don't require follow up, so you don't have any clear record of who you need to follow up with.

5.

Chronicle's financial follow up dates remind you of who needs to be followed up with and when. Highlight invoices without recent notes in the Collections Manager lets you easily find invoices that have been neglected.

6.

Since you no longer have your notes, you start from scratch the next time you're making collections calls. Your previous notes don't help you follow up, and aren't available as documentation if you ever have to take this to court.

6.

The complete record of what's been done when is always with the job; all information is at hand in the collections manager if you need to follow up again. And if you ever have to take a case to court, you have strong, detailed  documentation of everything that you've done.

In addition saving significant amounts of time and maintaining the documentation you need if you ever need to go to court, Chronicle offers a number of other advantages that improve the collections process:

Placing responsibility on the departmental managers: Chronicle makes continually updated receivable information available to managers, so each manager is able to track the jobs for his or her department. (Without Chronicle, managers don't usually even know which jobs have or haven't been paid until the accounting department indicates there's a problem.) This puts the collections responsibility in the hands of the manager who knows the adjustors, the customer, and what went on with the job. The manager who's been dealing with the job all along is often the most efficient person to have him go after the money for those jobs.

Identifying and following up on departments with collection problems: When you start to look at the number of days out for your invoices, you'll typically find that certain departments are much better than others. For example, water and fire damage jobs are usually easier to collect on, but packout jobs might take longer. Suppose your average invoice is 45 days out. If you looked at this by department, you might find that water was 30, fire was 32, and construction and packout jobs were 70. What do you do with this? Ask the managers of the construction and packout jobs to begin following up on their jobs at 25 days out. By following up earlier on the jobs that have the greatest potential for delays, you improve response times and thus improve your overall cash flow. Chronicle's ability to list collections information by department makes this easy to do.

Marking problematic invoices for special follow-up: Chronicle lets you mark specific invoices with collection problems. You can use comments, collections activities, notes, and follow up dates.

Making Sure the Setup is Correctly Configured for Collections

Security Control

To see the collections information, a user must meet the ALLACCOUNTINGVIEW security context. This context initially requires a security level of 5 or higher but it can be changed on the Security tab in the main setup.

Collections Department

Make sure that you have a Collections department in Chronicle: Go to the main setup and on the Departments tab, make sure that there is a collections department. The Department Name doesn't matter (though we suggested the name Collections); the only thing that matters is that the Department Type is Collections. Make sure that multiple departments don't use Collections for the Department Type; there should be only one Collections department.

Collections Activities

Set Up Collections Activities: In the Departments tab, select the Collections department and go to the Activities tab. Make sure that the list of activities reflects the primary stages that a problem collections job could go through. Do not include every action that you might ever take; this is not a to-do-list set of activities, but a set of activities to distinguish between different main distinctions. For example, you're going to manage the collections process differently if you're sending warning letters than if you've started the small claims process. And both of these are very different from a job that isn't paying because there's some customer service matter that still needs to be corrected. The purpose of the collections activities is to distinguish between these major differences. The list will typically look like this:

Setting these activities up will let you use them to flag invoices in the Collections Manager so you know what stage of the collections process they are in.

Collections Manager

Chronicle's Collections Manager lets you manage all aspects of the collections process in you place. you can view receivables (filtered in many ways), see phone numbers, send emails, add notes and comments, add follow-up dates, drill into job and contact files, and more.

Getting to the Collections Manager

Go to Chronicle's Financial tab, and, in the tool bar at the top of the screen click Collections Manager. (Security for using the Collections Manager is the same for accessing the Financial tab.)

Main Collections Manager Screen

The top of the screen lets you filter what receivables you see. The next section (which can be hidden with Hide Customization Options) lets you customize what columns you see, what is highlighted, and other aspect of searching and display. The central portion of the screen lists all receivables that meet your conditions, giving you what you need to effectively manage your collections. The bottom of the screen shows key detail for the selected invoice. More detail about each follows.

If a Paid Invoice is Still Appearing in the List

Once an invoice is paid in QuickBooks, as soon as Chronicle and QuickBooks link, the invoice should be automatically removed from the collections list in Chronicle. If an invoice has been paid in QuickBooks and is still here:

If the invoice was paid today: Updated information hasn't been sent from QuickBooks to Chronicle yet; it should be gone tomorrow.

If the invoice was paid yesterday: Make sure the Quickbooks bridge ran last night. If it didn't, contact our support to address the problem; once the bridge runs, the changes should be reflected.

If the invoice was paid on some earlier date: Make sure the payment was applied to the invoice in QuickBooks. Because a job can potentially have multiple invoices, a payment that isn't applied to a specific invoice doesn't count toward any invoice in Chronicle, even if the customer has a zero balance. The payment must be applied to a specific invoice to count in Chronicle.

Filtering the List So You See the Invoices You Want to Work With

The top of the screen lets you limit the receivables by date range, department, collections action, employees or non-employees associated with the job (so you can find, for example, all open invoices with a particular adjuster associated with the job), or whether the invoice needs follow up. If you filter the receivables, the header of the collections list will show what filter(s) are applied.

All: This shows all receivables, that is, all invoices where there is an unpaid balance.

Follow-Up Needed: Chronicle shows you just the invoices that need follow-up. This always includes invoices where the follow-up date is on or before today. If Include jobs with no recent notes is also checked, this will also include invoices for jobs that have no recent collections note. (A journal is regarded as collections related if it is added from this screen or if it is added elsewhere in Chronicle and collections is selected for the department.) By default, we include invoices with no recent collections notes since one should be recording every contact in the journal; the lack of a note generally indicates that the invoice hasn't been followed up with. In evaluating whether a job has a recent enough note, we use the number of days entered in the customization options for Highlight: no note added for ___ days.

0-30 days, 31-60 days, etc: This filters out invoices based on the QuickBooks invoice date. This doesn't have anything to do with the date the job or department was completed; it only looks at the date of the invoice from QuickBooks. If you correct an invoice date in QuickBooks, your change will be reflected in this list after the next successful nightly link.

Department: Leave this set to All for all invoices, or select a department to limit to only the invoices for a particular department. Chronicle determines whether an invoice is linked to a department based on whether the class for the invoice in QuickBooks is linked to the department in Chronicle's setup. (A blank department here indicates that either there's no class in QB or the class isn't linked to a department.)

It's useful to limit by department if the department manager is responsible for initial collections. It can also help you to evaluate whether any particular department's collections is taking longer than others.

Current Action: In Chronicle's setup, you can define activities for collections just like you can for any other department. Typically you would define activities like: Send Letter 1, Send Letter 2, Send Letter 3, Small Claims, Collection Agency, Write Off Balance, and Customer Service Needed. Many invoices won't need any of these: you'll invoice the job, maybe make a reminder call, and the customer will pay. But for those invoices where you have to do more, you can identify one of these actions in the Current Actions column. If you are using these collections actions, the Current Action filter lets you filter out all of the invoices in any category. For example, you could filter out all of the invoices that were in small claims or all invoices that just need to be written off.

Where ___ is associated: Use the Employee filter to show only invoices that have that employee associated with the job. This is useful if your production managers are involved in collections on their own jobs. If an employee isn't in this list, then that employee isn't associated with any jobs that have open invoices.

The Non-employee filter is useful for finding all jobs that are associated with a particular adjuster. When you are following up with an adjuster about one invoice, you can in a single call follow up with all invoices for jobs that adjuster is associated with. This filter looks only at whether the person is associated with the job; it does not consider whether the person has been made responsible for the payment. This is to give you the most complete list of invoices that you might need to follow up on, even if responsibility hasn't been assigned on all of them yet.

Searching for Specific Invoices or Customers

To search for a specific name, job #, claim #, etc. just type. You can click in the Search For entry if you want, but you don't have to. As long as you aren't in some entry that accepts text (like the Comments column or the Note entry at the bottom right), typing will search for what you type.

What entries are searched depends on what is checked in the Search In section in the customization options. The column doesn't have to be visible to search values in that column. For example, if you type a value that matches part of a claim number, even if the Claim Number column is invisible, that invoice will still show up in the search results.

The search entry is combined with the other filters, so if you filter by department and then search, the search will only find matches in the department you picked. (If you've picked other filters and want to get back to the full list, click Clear All Filters at the top right.

Sorting

To sort by any column, click the column header. To reverse sort, click the header again.

Available Columns

The grid can include the following columns. Except as noted, you can turn these columns on or off in the Columns to Show section in the customization section. Too many columns makes relevant information harder to find, and this can require scrolling to get to some columns, so we recommend hiding columns that you don't need.

Depending on what you choose for the Search In section of the customization options, searches can find matches in any of the first five columns. The search can find matches in these columns even if the columns are hidden.

Job #: This shows Chronicle's job number. If this shows No Chronicle Job (in red), then the QuickBooks invoice has no corresponding job. Contact our support if you need help resolving this.

Customer: This shows the customer's name. You can't hide this column.

Claim #: This column is contains the job secondary ID. It could be named differently if you company assigned a different name to the secondary ID on the Job tab of Chronicle's main setup.

Job ID 3: This column is contains the third job ID. It could be named differently if you company named it on the Job tab of Chronicle's main setup. (Not all companies use this third ID; hide it if you don't use it.)

QuickBooks Ref #: This shows the ID that QuickBooks assigned to the invoice.

Invoice Date: This show the date of the QuickBooks invoice.

Days Out: This shows the number of days since the invoice date.

Amount Billed: This shows the total amount billed. If a job has multiple invoices, this only shows the amount billed on this particular invoice, not the total from the job as a whole.

Amount Paid: This shows the total amount paid toward this invoice. You can't change this amount in amount in Chronicle; if you receive a payment, enter the payment in QuickBooks and apply it to the invoice. After the next QuickBooks bridge (this happens automatically every night), the payment entered in QuickBooks will be reflected. If you know you've entered a payment in QuickBooks and the payment isn't reflected here, make sure you applied the payment to the invoice. If the invoice is paid in full, it will simply be removed from this list.

Amount Due: This shows how much is still owed on this particular invoice. You can't hide this column.

Follow-up Date: This shows the date the next follow up is scheduled. The goal is to follow up as soon as possible based on your interaction with whoever is paying. If you call and an adjuster is out for the day, set the follow-up for tomorrow. If a customer says the check is in the mail, set a follow-up date for several days or a week out: give just enough time to see if it was received and processed, and then follow-up again.

You can set the Follow-up Date in three ways: right-click anywhere on the line and pick one of the follow up options, click in the Follow-up Date column in the grid and type or pick a date, or enter a date in the Next Follow Up entry at the bottom right and clicking Save these updates. This last option is most commonly used if you are also typing a note, which you can also do there.

Once you set a follow-up date, you can find all invoices that need follow up with the Follow up needed filter at the top of the screen. You could also find invoices that need follow-up by clicking this column heading: this will put all invoices that need follow-up together. We also highlight invoices with invoices that have follow-up dates that are on or before today.

If you set a follow-up date and the invoice is paid, Chronicle automatically removes the invoice from the list, so you only see those invoices that actually still need following up.

Current Action: In Chronicle's setup, you can define activities for collections just like you can for any other department. Typically you would define activities like: Send Letter 1, Send Letter 2, Send Letter 3, Small Claims, Collection Agency, Write Off Balance, Customer Service Needed. Many invoices won't need any of these: you'll invoice the job, maybe make a reminder call, and the customer will pay. But for those invoices where you have to do more, you can identify one of these actions in the Current Actions column. The Current Action filter at the top of the screen lets you filter out all of the invoices in any category. If you change the current action, a note that says that is automatically added to the journal. If you change the current action and there was already something there, the old current action will be added to the past actions in case you need to review what you've previously done. (You can see the past actions in the Past Actions column if you have it visible, or by clicking the Past Actions tab at the bottom of the screen.

Past Actions: If you use the Current Action column to track the current stage of your collections efforts, whenever you change the value in that column, the old action is automatically added to the past actions and will be shown in this column. For most users, this isn't information that's needed all that often, so we generally recommend hiding this column. You can also see past actions by clicking the Past Actions tab at the bottom of the screen.

Last Collection Journal Date: This shows the date of the last collections journal if there is one. Chronicle knows if a journal or note is collections related if it's added from the collections manager or if, anywhere else in Chronicle, you add a journal and pick Collections for the department.

# of Collection Journals: This shows the number of the collections journals. This helps you monitor which invoices have a lot of interaction and which have had very little. If there are few journals for invoices that are many days out, this could indicate either that the invoice has been neglected or that the collections person is failing to properly document collection efforts; neither is good.

Comment: The Comment column gives you a place to enter a note that stays until you replace it with a new note. While what you type in the Comment entry goes into the journal, the comment is a bit different from the journal. When you enter a regular journal (by sending an email or by entering something in the Note to Add to this File entry), that adds documentation to the file. But as new notes get added, older notes end up  further and further down the list. This is fine for job documentation, but it isn't so useful if there's something you need to see immediately before you follow up; you don't want to have to read 17 journal entries to see if there's an important note. This is where the Comment comes in handy: what you type in the Comment stays there even if other notes are added to the journal after it. (You can also add notes for the responsible people in the Payment Responsibility section. These notes also stay in view until you change them.)

QuickBooks File Name: If you have multiple QuickBooks files, this shows which file the invoice came from. Most of the time this is irrelevant, so we recommend hiding this column, but it could occasionally be useful in troubleshooting a problem, so we have it as an option just in case.

Managing the Collections Process

Identifying Who Is Responsible for Payment: To indicate who is responsible for payment, either click Add/Change Who's Responsible at the bottom left, or right-click any job in the list at the top and pick Change Who's Responsible for Payment. On the payment screen, type an amount next to any name, or right-click any name to assign the full or remaining amount to that person. You can make either people or organizations responsible, and you can associate additional people or organizations with the job from this screen. To remove responsibility for any person after payment is made, edit the amount back to zero.

Making Phone Calls to the Responsible Person: Once you indicate that particular people or organizations are responsible for payment, you see the contacts, the amount that they are responsible for, and their phone numbers in the Payment Responsibility section at the bottom left.

Emailing the Responsible Person: Once you indicate that particular people or organizations are responsible for payment, you see the contacts in the Payment Responsibility section at the bottom left. Right-click any contact

Reviewing Collections Journals or All Journals: The grid at the top has the option of including the number of collections journals (emails or notes) and the date of the last collections journal. Once you select an invoice, you can see collections journals or all journals for the associated job at the bottom center of the screen. You can scroll through this list and scroll through individual notes to read the full text.

Adding Notes and Comments: Comments (shown in the grid) are slightly different from other notes or journal entries. If you type a comment in the comment column of the grid, that comment is added to the journal, but that comment also stays in the comments section until you replace it, even if you add other collections notes. This is a useful place to add any detail that you want to always have in view when you see an invoice in the collections manager. If you type a note at the bottom right (or if you add a collections journal for the job elsewhere in Chronicle), that note is also added to the journal, but as you add additional notes, the most recent note will obviously scroll further down the list. These notes are a great place to document anything that needs to be saved in the file to document phone conversations or other details that must be saved but that don't need to remain the first thing you see.

Adding Follow-up Dates: You can add a follow-up date for any invoice in three ways: You can right-click any invoice and pick one of the follow-up options toward the bottom of the menu. You can enter a date directly in the Follow Up Date column in the grid. Or you can pick a date in the Next Follow Up entry at the bottom right (adding a note below as well if you wish) and then click Save these Updates.

Once you set a follow-up date, you can find all invoices that need follow up with the Follow up needed filter at the top of the screen. You could also find invoices that need follow-up by clicking this column heading: this will put all invoices that need follow-up together. We also highlight invoices with invoices that have follow-up dates that are on or before today.

If you set a follow-up date and the invoice is paid, Chronicle automatically removes the invoice from the list, so you only see those invoices that actually still need following up.

Updating the Current Collections Action: In Chronicle's main setup, on the Activities tab within the Departments setup, you can define activities for each department. If you've setup up activities for the Collections department, you can pick these activities in the Current Action column in the Collection Manager to indicate what stage of collections each invoice is in. You would typically leave this blank until you find some indication that initial invoicing and initial phone call are inadequate. (Typical actions here would be: Send Letter 1, Send Letter 2, Send Letter 3, Small Claims, Collection Agency, Write Off Balance, and Customer Service Needed.)

Getting More Information about the Job or Responsible Person: To open the file for the job the invoice is associated with, double-click the job or right-click the job and pick Open File for Job.... To open the file for a person or organization that you've indicated is responsible for payment, right-click the contact in the Payment Responsibility section, and choose to open the file.

Customizing the Collections Manager

Choosing which Columns You See: In the Columns to Show section at the top left, check or uncheck items to control what you see in the grid.

Controlling Which Invoices are Highlighted: In the customization options at the top of the screen, you can check or uncheck boxes in the Highlight section to determine whether to highlight invoices with no notes, no recent notes, and/or invoices with follow-up dates on or before today.

Changing the Highlight Colors: Double-click any color box in the color key below the grid to change that highlight color. Chronicle remembers any change that you make.

Hiding the Customization Options: At the top right, click Hide Customization Options to remove the customization section so you have more space for the list. (Click this button again to bring the customization section back.)

Collections by Responsible Person

The Group by Payment Responsibility view groups collection amounts by the person who's responsible for payment. For example, if a number of invoices are associated with a particular adjuster or mortgage company, this view groups together all of the invoices each person or organization is responsible for, so it makes it easier to follow up on multiple invoices with a single call and easier to identify those contacts responsible for the largest amounts.

 

This view doesn't necessarily show all invoices; it only shows those invoices where you've indicated payment responsibility, so you'll still need to use the List by Invoice Order view to see invoices that are not yet assigned.

To Assign Payment Responsibility

For the Group by Payment Responsibility view to work, you must assign responsibility in the List by Invoice Order view. To do this, either right-click the invoice and pick Change Who's Responsible for Payment, or click Add/Change Who's Responsible in the Payment Responsibility section at the bottom left of the screen.

Once you've assigned payment responsibility, then the invoice will be reflected for the corresponding people or organizations in the Group by Payment Responsibility view. If you assign responsibility to multiple people or organizations, the invoice will appear for all responsible parties (with the amount they're each responsible for) in the Group by Payment Responsibility view.