Leading debt-collection app Chaser has set up an education facility called ChaseAcademy to “bring professional credit control to the unserviced masses” in the words of founder and CEO David Tuck.
ChaseAcademy is a free 12-week remote course, open to any cloud accounting or bookkeeping firm that wants to run a “virtual credit control” department for its business clients. Participants do not have to be current Chaser partners, but they have to commit to setting aside a half day a week for ChaseAcademy activity.
The ChaseAcademy curriculum is delivered by virtual credit control consultants in interactive weekly webinars, backed with office visits to help practices set up their credit control operations.
“Over the past year we’ve been getting into the trenches with some of our accounting and bookkeeping partners to pilot virtual credit control,” said Tuck.
The idea took root within Chaser as the developer observed how many firms were drawn unintentionally into providing the service. “Many firms do it reactively to keep clients running. They’ve picked it up because the client had a burning need, but haven’t been eager to advertise it or build it as a service offering,” he said.
“If you approach credit control the passive way, it ends up breaking even because you don’t invest in it. One firm’s reactive need is an opportunity for a pioneering, growth-minded firm to develop an exciting new service offering. We’re moving it onto the front foot and turning credit control from a chore into the core.”
“We’re really excited to build that experience into a curriculum that can help our accounting partners launch an exciting new service. Other partner programmes help you do things you already know how to do more efficiently. We’re helping you take something new and develop a new service offering that you haven’t been doing before.
Chaser is the current holder of the Accounting Excellence Software Award for Cloud App of the Year and has been embraced by several entrants for practice awards as a platform for running outsourced credit control departments for clients.
But Tuck thinks more firms should grasp the opportunity. “Ninety-five percent of small businesses have 1-9 employees and are unlikely to have finance expertise. We’re enabling those businesses to access credit control for the first time.”
Tricks of the trade
The ChaseAcademy is based on the principle that software alone won’t deliver a successful credit control service. “Software is a catalyst for the human inputs into it. If you don’t have someone with financial nous doing credit control, you’re always going to be limited in the quality of outcomes you’ll achieve,” Tuck explained.
“[The academy] is not just about how to use Chaser to carry out credit control. A big element is around best practices: what are the signs an invoice needs to be escalated from email chasing to a phone call? What constitutes an acceptable promise to pay? If a customer asks, ‘Can I pay in a couple of weeks?’, what is right thing to say in that situation and the factors to take into consideration?”
The academy’s mission will be to help attendees put in place processes for dealing with objections and managing client contacts effectively so that there will be someone at the customer who knows about particular sales and who handled that delivery.
There are also good disciplines that can make the work easier, such as making sure regular bank reconciliations are carried out and timing chasing activity around that work. “Those were learnings we picked up relatively early,” Tuck said.
The early wave of ChaseAcademy students came from firms of all sizes and many of them shared similar challenges, particularly around pricing.
“It’s a delicate balance. There’s a risk that you might have client with a huge swathe of overdue debt. You don’t want to hit them with really high fee that puts them off, but equally you don’t want them to pay a standard monthly fee to clean up all their old stuff in the first three months and they cancel when the hard work is done. You want to be like a cleaner who does the house once a week, rather than doing a one-off job when they’ve had a student house party,” said Tuck.
“We’ve got some really good learnings about how to handle that so that old, overdue debt gets factored in when you charge.”
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.