Average Collection Period


When it comes to managing a business, one of the key aspects that requires careful attention is the management of cash flow. One important metric that helps businesses understand their cash flow efficiency is the average collection period. The average collection period measures the average number of days it takes for a company to collect payment from its customers after a sale has been made. In this article, we will explore the concept of average collection period in detail, its significance, and how businesses can effectively manage it to improve their cash flow.

Understanding Average Collection Period

The average collection period is a financial metric that provides insights into a company's ability to collect payments from its customers. It is calculated by dividing the accounts receivable by the average daily sales. The result represents the average number of days it takes for a company to collect payment from its customers.

For example, let's consider a company with accounts receivable of $100,000 and average daily sales of $10,000. The average collection period would be calculated as follows:

Average Collection Period = Accounts Receivable / Average Daily Sales

Average Collection Period = $100,000 / $10,000

Average Collection Period = 10 days

This means that, on average, it takes the company 10 days to collect payment from its customers after a sale has been made.

The Significance of Average Collection Period

The average collection period is an important metric for businesses as it provides insights into their cash flow efficiency. A shorter average collection period indicates that a company is able to collect payments from its customers quickly, resulting in a healthier cash flow. On the other hand, a longer average collection period suggests that a company is taking longer to collect payments, which can negatively impact its cash flow.

By monitoring and managing the average collection period, businesses can ensure that they have enough cash on hand to meet their financial obligations, such as paying suppliers, employees, and other expenses. It also helps businesses identify potential issues with their credit policies, customer payment behavior, or collection processes.

Factors Affecting Average Collection Period

Several factors can influence the average collection period of a business. Understanding these factors can help businesses identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to reduce the average collection period. Some of the key factors include:

  • Industry: Different industries have different payment terms and customer payment behavior. For example, retail businesses typically have shorter collection periods compared to businesses in the construction industry.
  • Credit Policies: The credit policies set by a company can impact the average collection period. For instance, offering longer payment terms or allowing customers to pay in installments can result in a longer average collection period.
  • Customer Payment Behavior: The payment behavior of customers can significantly affect the average collection period. Late payments or non-payment can increase the average collection period.
  • Collection Processes: The efficiency of a company's collection processes can impact the average collection period. Streamlined and effective collection processes can help reduce the time it takes to collect payments.

Managing Average Collection Period

Managing the average collection period is crucial for businesses to maintain a healthy cash flow. Here are some strategies that businesses can implement to effectively manage their average collection period:

  • Clear Credit Policies: Establishing clear credit policies and terms can help set expectations with customers regarding payment timelines. Clearly communicate payment terms, late payment penalties, and any other relevant information to customers.
  • Regular Invoicing: Send out invoices promptly and consistently. Delayed invoicing can result in delayed payments. Utilize technology to automate the invoicing process and send reminders for overdue payments.
  • Offer Incentives for Early Payments: Encourage customers to make early payments by offering discounts or other incentives. This can help incentivize prompt payment and reduce the average collection period.
  • Monitor and Follow Up on Late Payments: Keep a close eye on overdue payments and follow up with customers promptly. Implement a systematic process for following up on late payments, including sending reminders, making phone calls, or even involving a collections agency if necessary.
  • Improve Collection Processes: Continuously evaluate and improve collection processes to streamline the payment collection process. This can include implementing online payment options, providing multiple payment methods, and simplifying the payment process for customers.

Case Study: Reducing Average Collection Period

Let's consider a case study of a small manufacturing company that was struggling with a high average collection period. The company had an average collection period of 45 days, which was negatively impacting its cash flow. After analyzing the factors affecting the average collection period, the company implemented the following strategies:

  • Implemented stricter credit policies and reduced payment terms from 30 days to 15 days.
  • Offered a 2% discount for customers who paid within 10 days.
  • Automated the invoicing process and sent out reminders for overdue payments.
  • Assigned a dedicated team member to follow up on late payments and implemented a systematic process for collections.

After implementing these strategies, the company was able to reduce its average collection period to 25 days. This resulted in improved cash flow and better financial stability for the business.


The average collection period is a crucial metric for businesses to monitor and manage. It provides insights into a company's cash flow efficiency and helps identify areas for improvement. By implementing strategies such as clear credit policies, regular invoicing, offering incentives for early payments, and improving collection processes, businesses can effectively manage their average collection period and ensure a healthy cash flow. Remember, a shorter average collection period means better cash flow management and financial stability for your business.

Leave a Reply