How we helped an ABL collect out
A business that supplied fruit and veg to the hospitality sector entered administration at the beginning of the first national lockdown, leaving our lender seriously exposed.
The Asset Based Lender was owed several million pounds by the fresh produce business, which could not survive the almost overnight closures of its customers, due to the pandemic.
We immediately co-ordinated an all-party meeting between the administrators and the lender to establish the facts. We also went onto the business premises – observing appropriate Covid-19 guidelines – to collect all relevant books and records. Securing remote entry to the company server enabled us to download copy invoices and gave us full access to the company’s accounting system. We retained the company’s Credit Controller to work with us to assist with collections and any customer disputes. We then made contact with all of the company’s customers via phone, email and letter.
Key issues we identified
Because all the customer accounts were closed, getting responses from debtors was very slow initially and we had to manage the lender’s expectations on just how much progress we could make on the ‘collect out’ of monies owed. Another challenge was that rebates featured across the ledger, with some not being taken for over 12 months, so we had to verify all the customer deductions.
Of course customers in the hospitality sector were also suffering with major cashflow problems themselves, so we had to be sensitive to their situation, whilst trying to achieve the best outcome for our client.
What we recommended
We advised that we should get into dialogue with the largest debtors as soon as possible to verify the amount of debt owing, making sure that they were supplied with all the relevant copy invoices/PODs in support. With the lender’s consent and approval we then entered into repayment plans with debtors as required. This included some of the largest pub/hotel/hospitality companies in the UK. Towards the back end of the collect out we agreed with the lender that we would offer:
- A settlement deduction for any debtors up to £5k
- Longer term payment plans from 3-6 months
The results we secured
Initially the lender only expected a 50% return, but we have managed to achieve a far higher % collect out of ledger so far, totally exceeding our client’s expectations. Activity is ongoing with collections still being achieved in spite of everyone being in a third national lockdown.
In quick conclusion
We managed and exceeded our client’s expectations mainly because we got onto the phone and entered into dialogue with debtors as soon as possible. We did not allow the process to be held back by restrictions like lack of face to face meetings in lockdown, we just used the channels available very effectively.