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# How is cash flow affected by the average collection period?

July 18, 2024
Bill Kimball

It may mean that the company isn’t as efficient as it needs to be when staying on top of collecting accounts receivable. However, the figure can also represent that the company offers more flexible payment terms when it comes to outstanding payments. Let’s say that Company ABC recorded a yearly accounts receivable balance of \$25,000. The best way that a company can benefit is by consistently calculating its average collection period and using it over time to search for trends within its own business. The average collection period may also be used to compare one company with its competitors, either individually or grouped together. Similar companies should produce similar financial metrics, so the average collection period can be used as a benchmark against another company’s performance.

## How is the Average Collection Period Formula Derived?

The average collection period can be used as a benchmark to compare the performance of two organizations because similar businesses should provide comparable financial measures. In the long run, you can compare your average collection period with other businesses in the same field to observe your financial metrics and use them as a performance benchmark. The average number of days between making a sale on credit, and receiving its due payment, is called the average collection period. The average collection period is often not an externally required figure to be reported. The usefulness of average collection period is to inform management of its operations.

## What Is Average Collection Period Ratio Formula and How to Calculate It

The average collection period emerges as a valuable metric to help in this endeavor. It stands as an essential financial metric that grants businesses insight into the speed at which they can convert credit sales into actual cash. In today’s business landscape, it’s common for most organizations to offer credit to their customers.

## Calculate average accounts receivable

At the beginning of the year, your accounts receivable were at \$5,000, which increased to \$10,000 by year-end. In this article, we explore what the average collection period is, its formula, how to calculate the average collection period, and the significance it holds for businesses. Generally, having a low average collection period is preferable since it indicates that the firm can collect its accounts receivables more efficiently. This industry will emphasize shorter collection periods because real estate frequently requires ongoing financial flow to support its operations.

1. The average collection period is also referred to as the days’ sales in accounts receivable.
2. It measures the company’s efficiency in converting accounts receivable into cash.
3. The receivables turnover can use the total accounts receivable at the end of a period or the average throughout the period.
4. It’s vital for companies to receive payment for goods or services in a timely manner.
5. This would show that your average collection period ratio of the year is around 46 days.

Accrual accounting is a business standard under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) that makes it possible for companies to sell their goods and services with credit. While it is expected to help increase sales for a firm, it’s a concept that creates a core element of complexity for financial statement reporting. In that case, ABC may wish to consider loosening its credit policy to offer a more flexible payment term. Even though a lower average collection period indicates faster payment collections, it isn’t always favorable. If customers feel that your credit terms are a bit too restrictive for their needs, it may impact your sales.

## How average collection period affects cash flow

Get instant access to lessons taught by experienced private equity pros and bulge bracket investment bankers including financial statement modeling, DCF, M&A, LBO, Comps and Excel Modeling. This industry will have a slightly longer collection period because the relationship between the supplier and buyer is built on mutual trust. Access and download collection of free Templates to help power your productivity and performance.

This may also include limiting the number of clients it offers credit to in an effort to increase cash sales. It can also offer pricing discounts for earlier payment (i.e. 2% discount if paid in 10 days). The average collection period, or ACP, refers to the amount of time it takes for a business to receive any payments that it is owed by its clients. A financial metric that depicts the average number of days it takes for an organization to collect accounts receivables that arise due to sales for which the amount has yet to be collected.

Businesses must be able to manage their average collection period to operate smoothly. The receivables turnover can use the total accounts receivable at the end of a period or the average throughout the period. Investors and analysts may not have access to the average receivables so they would need to use the ending balance or an average of four quarters for a full year. Also, this metric is an average across a specified number of days, so it is not an exact measure and will be more broadly skewed with the number of days involved.

�� Another average collection period interpretation is days’ sales in accounts receivable or the average collection period ratio. Real estate and construction companies also rely on steady cash flows to pay for labor, services, and supplies. Collecting its receivables in a relatively short and reasonable period of time gives the company time to pay off its obligations.

When analyzing average collection period, be mindful of the seasonality of the accounts receivable balances. For example, analyzing a peak month to a slow month by result in a very inconsistent average accounts receivable balance that may skew the calculated amount. The best average collection period is about balancing between your business’s credit terms and your accounts receivables. For example, financial institutions, i.e., banks, rely on accounts receivable because they offer their customers credit loans, installments, and mortgages. A short and precise turnaround time is required to generate ROI from such services (you can find more about this metric in the ROI calculator). Thus, by neglecting their policies for managing accounts receivable, they can potentially have a severe financial deficit.

It means that your clients take a shorter period of time to pay their bills and you have less uncertainty about payment times. As a business owner, the average collection period figure can tell you a few things. Our model unveils the dynamics, depicting that the cost of collections is just a few cents within the credit period. However, as invoices age past 90 days, this cost escalates significantly, reaching \$10-\$12. A high collection period often signals that a company is experiencing delays in receiving payments. However, it’s important not to draw immediate conclusions from this metric alone.

The average collection period figure is also important from a timing perspective to help a company prepare an effective plan for covering costs and scheduling potential expenditures to further growth. Although cash on hand is important to every business, some rely more on their cash flow than others. This metric should exclude cash sales (as those are not made on credit and therefore do not have a collection period). For obvious reasons, the lower the ACP is, the better it is for your business.

The average collection period is the primary industry standard for evaluating a company’s accrual accounting procedures and assessing its expectations for cash flow management. The average collection period metric may also be called the days to sales ratio or the receivable days. Generally, the average collection period is an important internal metric used in the overall management of a company’s finances.

Calculating the average collection period with average accounts receivable and total credit sales. �� You can also use the same method to calculate your average collection period for a particular day by dividing your average amount of receivables by your total credit sales of that day. The average collection period is the average number of days it takes for a credit sale to be collected. While a shorter average collection period is often better, too strict of credit terms may scare customers away. If this company’s average collection period was longer—say, more than 60 days— then it would need to adopt a more aggressive collection policy to shorten that time frame. Otherwise, it may find itself falling short when it comes to paying its own debts.

Similarly, businesses allow customers to pay at a later date; this is recorded as trade receivables on the business’s balance sheet. Suppliers can assist small businesses by setting favorable credit terms with them. This arrangement allows businesses to receive their stock and pay later, which will be recorded as a trade payable on the balance sheet.

Calculating the average collection period with accounts receivable turnover ratio. �� To calculate the average value of receivables, sum the opening and closing balance of your required duration and divide it by 2. You can also open the Calculate average accounts receivable section of the calculator to find its value.

For example, ABC wants to open up a new plant to expand its business operations, including expenses such as market research, licensing, labor costs, and other overhead costs. In the following example of the average collection period calculation, we’ll use two different methods. For example, the banking sector relies heavily on receivables because of the loans and mortgages that it offers to consumers. As it relies on income generated from these products, banks must have a short turnaround time for receivables.

It’s essential to compare it with other key performance indicators (KPIs) for a clearer understanding. Consequently, it is best to compare the outcomes to industry standards and other competitors, as they may vary depending on the company’s sector. By benchmarking against the industry standard, a company can gauge easily whether the number is acceptable or if there is potential for improvement.