Coaxing £6.2K out of a Belfast Builder

In this successful debt recovery, both client and debtor are based in Northern Ireland and actively trade throughout the UK. Our client launched its commercial and domestic cleaning business a decade ago and has built up a strong customer base. They initially started out doing end-of-tenancy cleans and have since branched out into offices, factories, schools and construction sites. Incorporated around the same time as our client is a Belfast-based builder. They and our client have traded infrequently over the years, but enough to expect a degree of late payment.

When the debtor needed a series of homes cleaned on a newly built complex, our client leapt into action. True to form the homes were left sparkling clean and ready for their new occupants. With £6.2K invoiced, it was a modest contract for the client and one of the biggest to date with this particular customer. The usual reminders by phone and email were met with near-total silence, apart from one promise of payment that never materialised. With invoices approaching 180 days overdue, our client could no longer commit time to chase a debt that should have been settled 6 months ago.

In IT to Pay It

On instruction and before opening the file, it is standard practice at Advocate to check the debtor’s credit report as this can influence the course of our action. In this case, the debtor had no County Court Judgments (CCJs) but a relatively low rating when compared to their turnover. Cashflow was clearly a challenge in the most recent set of accounts. Despite the late payment, our client was eager to maintain a working relationship with the debtor post-collection. Diplomacy and debt collection go hand in hand, but the urgency of impending court proceedings should never be diluted! That is exactly what Advocate achieved in this recovery. The debtor initially had some reconciliation issues, so we worked quickly to clarify balances and invoice details. Until our intervention, the client was unaware of the debtor’s back-office shortcomings, primarily caused by migrating to a new IT system after the invoices had been raised. Inaccurate data transfer from one system to another reduced visibility of the client’s £6.2K. The software is only as good as the training received, something which the debtor found to be painfully lacking. Advocate’s role was not to fix the Belfast builder’s technical gremlins or train their staff. Instead, we increased the visibility and urgency of unpaid invoices to the point where the debtor could no longer resist making payment.

Days Not Months

It took just 4 days from instruction to resolve the reconciliation issues, get the invoices into the hands of directors, and obtain full payment inclusive of Advocate’s fees. The client got the money they were due, and the debtor kept a clean sheet for CCJs so it was a win-win outcome. Since Advocate’s intervention trade between both Northern Ireland companies has resumed and invoices are regularly being paid on 7 days.