Payment performance is a big part of the due diligence we should undertake in respect of prospective customers. With the UK’s late payments culture affecting four in ten businesses, understanding the payment habits of prospective customers is crucial for cash flow management and survival.
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Hugh Gage, the creator of The Prompt Payment Directory (TPPD). This is a free to use, if you contribute, listing of the payment performance of UK based companies. To be honest I hadn’t heard of it until earlier this year when I saw a link to it on LinkedIn. Now I’m a big advocate of it and I’ll explain why.
Hugh is in fact a digital analytics consultant not a credit management professional. He created TPPD out of a passion to give businesses the data they need to make informed decisions about who they do business with. His motivation for creating the directory came from personal late payment experience as a small business owner. He describes being on the receiving end of late payments as agonizing and stressful. This is an experience most of us can relate to, and the purpose of the directory is to relieve some of that stress.
Here in Hugh’s own words is what underpins the directory:
“It’s my firm belief that everybody who’s brave enough and who wants the freedom and independence to work for themselves should be able to do so while being confident that they’ll be paid for the goods or services they provide.
I started the directory in order to bring fairness and transparency to the complicated issue of late payment.
The problem is simply not as binary as it appears at first and it’s vital that we build up context around issues where late payment has occurred. Bashing debtors might work in some circumstances but not all. I want to use data provided anonymously by suppliers to help solve this problem. By rating payment practices (both good and bad) and giving the context around it we can make due diligence an easier and more affordable way of avoiding late payment.”
It’s not only about late payment
Credit agencies produce reports based on a number of elements one of which is payment performance. The information they use for these reports is drawn from submissions from contributing clients.
These reports tell us the average number of days beyond terms it takes the business to pay and compares it to an industry or sector average. This is useful information but doesn’t address why they pay late.
The Prompt Payment Directory focuses on the ‘why’. There are thirty different reasons to choose from when you rate a business on TPPD. And it’s this context around the late payment that gives us more insight into the kind of businesses who are looking to trade with us. And whether we’re prepared to accept any risk associated with that reason.
You may be willing to trade with a business who pay late because their accounts staff only work on a Thursday between 9am and 12pm. But you might be less keen to work with a business whose reason for late payment was they were waiting for payment from their supplier. Such a scenario indicates a cash flow problem and you might be best to steer well clear.
How much does the service cost?
The beauty of The Prompt Payment Directory is that, as long as you rate one of your customers, it’s free for you to search for other businesses, including your own. Yet, if you seek only to see what others are saying about your business, without rating anyone, then there’s an annual £36 fee.
So why wouldn’t you want to rate your customers and get FREE access to valuable information? Information that will help you to make informed decisions about future business and reduce the risk of late payments?
One of those reasons may be that you don’t like the idea of ‘telling tales’ on another business. You can rest assured that all ratings are completely anonymous. There’s no way for a business to know who has rated them. Remember ratings can be positive as well as negative. And the more businesses that contribute to the directory the more useful it becomes to the business community as a whole.
How to Rate a Business
Another reason for not wanting to rate your customers may be that you think it will take up a lot of time and you don’t have much to spare.
It’s super quick and easy to rate businesses on The Prompt Payment Directory. You can search by business name or their company registration number. At this time only incorporated business are rateable. You then give the company a rating out of five stars for each of payment, relationship and future business and answer four questions. The directory uses the answers to these questions to give more detail around the payment performance.
You can go back and change a rating on a business you’ve rated before if their payment performance changes. Or you can rate them again.
In all it takes less than two minutes to rate a business.
Build your own reputation – ask your suppliers to rate you
If you’re confident in your payment performance with your suppliers build up some reputational value and ask them to rate you. Being known as a prompt payer can go a long way in helping you negotiate price and terms with new suppliers.
Make it easy for your suppliers to rate you by sending them a link to the directory in your payment confirmation email.
Be part of something bigger
So why not visit the directory and rate a customer today? Contribute to the building of a database of relevant, contextual information about the payment habits of UK businesses.
Tell your network about the directory and get them to rate their customers.
The more businesses that become rated the more power the directory has. And with more power the directory’s effectiveness increases in reducing the billions of pounds in late payments suffered by UK businesses, including yours.