25 Jul 2020 Automating collection with Aston iTF, testimony from Lorial
With the Aston iT Clients collection software, LORIAL has a global view of outstanding debts and customer reminders. The automation of the tasks has enabled it to improve its outstanding receivables.
Lorial is an animal nutrition company in Eastern France. Created in 2011, it is in partnership with Cal/Lorca and INVIVO. This company has a turnover of over 75 million euros.
Nicolas Weyland is administrative and financial manager at Lorial. He agreed to answer our questions about his use of the Aston iT Clients software for 3 years now.
Why did you choose the Aston iTF collection platform? The platform was introduced to me through one of my shareholders. We had the problem of managing customer reminders as they had nothing at all. When I took up my post, the daily outstanding amounts were really substantial. We had to make reminders quickly. As one of our shareholders was changing his system and he had heard about Aston, we started to think about this solution to implement it in one of the entities of the parent company and in the other structures.
What were your main objectives? Was it necessary to set up this collection tool in order to improve Lorial’s performance? It was really an outstanding receivable with no follow-up. We had very little history. We had to monitor this outstanding debt as quickly as possible and above all automate the reminders. The reminders were done one by one with an Excel or Word file.
I use extraction instead, particularly at the level of the balances, to follow up with the team in charge of collection and then follow up and see with them the balances that have increased and those that are abnormal. There is also the possibility of having weekly monitoring curves.
Do you have meetings where you present this type of support to your teams? How does it work? There is one person who is in charge of collections. I send him an e-mail with the status of the amounts due, highlighting the largest unpaid amounts. From that we exchange information and at the end of the week we have a review of the customers to discuss the difficulties.
Overall, are you satisfied with the collection and credit management solution? Yes, there are two parts: The first part is the customer reminder, which allows us to have models available immediately to be able to remind the customer. This will really help to unblock the situation. Then there is a more collaborative part with the salespeople that we have set up.
What would you say are the strong points of the collection software? The strongest point for us is to have automated everything related to reminders. The reporting part is very practical. I can quickly find the information. There is also the collaborative, more retrospective side that I hope to develop in the coming months.
What gains have you made in your daily life since using the Aston platform? I have an outstanding balance of more than €30,000 that I will look at. We started from €1.2 million really at the very beginning when we started to take over the collection. So there was really nothing automated there. Today we are around 400,000 euros. The fact that we can issue a reminder letter has changed things. We’ve pushed some people to pay us. And then there is the follow-up, the more automated it is, the faster it is.
Automating tasks saves time and allows us to focus on valuable work in progress. We had the problem of valuable receivables lying around. The fact that we can quickly follow up, we can see very quickly who is dragging out payments and we can immediately block the account and avoid having outstanding amounts that are growing too much. So there, we really put the brakes on. So that’s why the outstanding amount has gone down. We had an outstanding balance of more than 150 days, which is very substantial. For example, out of 1.2 million euros, there were 800,000 euros over 150 days. We are now at less than 200,000. This means a 70% reduction in the amount outstanding.
With almost the same turnover, we have gone from 1.2 million euros to 400,000 euros.
At the beginning there was very little collection. We started to put up barriers. We asked the sales staff to follow up on outstanding debts of more than 30 days. Now we are starting to monitor the outstanding amounts and to send reminders if necessary. I think that tomorrow we will try to send email reminders to customers even before the due date. This is a strong point that allows me to evolve as we go along. We are gradually increasing the pressure on the customer account. For example, interest on arrears. At the beginning, we didn’t have to calculate it because it was done automatically. Now it is included in the reminders.
Did it allow you to detect certain problems that you did not see before using Aston IT Clients? Indirectly yes, because when the person is in charge of the collection, he/she has information feedback that allows him/her to see anomalies on the invoices. As soon as there is an anomaly, the invoice is not paid. It’s just a matter of the terms of sale appearing on invoices that were unpaid.
How did the installation of the software go? The installation was fairly quick. The collection department saw an immediate benefit. From now on, my colleague from the collection department goes straight to Aston IT Clients because the reminders are automated.
Would you recommend the Aston platform? Yes, I have attended training sessions in Paris with other CFOs. I do not hesitate to talk about the Aston solution. It is practical and fast to manage outstanding receivables.