I'm sick and tired of waiting for customers to fork over overdue payments, yet I dread dunning them. So I found two underutilized services, offered by many banks, that can help cut payment delays or eliminate them outright.
An ACH (automated clearinghouse) is a cybercash direct-payment alternative for established customers, in which payments are electronically transferred into your business ACH account. No "the check's in the mail" excuses or mad dashes to the bank to make a last-minute deposit. A number of financial Web sites offer information about ACH with directions and advice, but the best of these is operated by the National Automated Clearing House Association (http://www.nacha.org or call 703-561-1100).
Automated lockbox is another service offered by many major banks. Wells Fargo's Wholesale Lockbox, for instance, service intercepts customers' mailed payments, processes and deposits them into your account, then immediately reports receivables and improved funds availability. You don't even need a letter opener (http://www.wellsfargo.com).
Concord Servicing Corp. also offers an automated lockbox service, as does SunTrust Banks--but SunTrust also throws in a special image browser so you can immediately review images of checks and other payment documents at any time, day or night.. It also lets you research and verify checks before releasing goods or providing services to unfamiliar clients. Check out http://www.concord.com and http://www.suntrust.com/bus/corp/treas_mngmt/lockbox for more information.
Mike Herd, National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA)
Web: www.nacha.org Phone: (703) 561-1100 Fax: (703) 787-0096
Wells Fargo's Wholesale Lockbox
Phone: (415) 396-3606 Fax: (415)362-6958
Kurt Samson is a freelance business writer and public relations consultant in Annapolis, Maryland.