09.28.2022 | Posted by Erik
How to Successfully Manage a Remote A/R Team
When your team is in the office, it’s easy to see who’s on task and who’s falling behind. But when your people are working remotely, it can be much more challenging to gauge how everyone’s doing. Things can be especially tricky when you’re managing an A/R team.
As an accounts receivable outsourcing firm, we know it takes a lot of work to get results. In A/R, you often deal with past-due accounts and need to communicate with challenging clients. You might need to get in touch with one customer several times over several weeks (or even months) to achieve tangible results on a single account.
This is just the name of the game in A/R. If your A/R employees are remote, though, it can be tough to know whether poor results stem from a lack of employee effort or can be chalked up to the typical challenges of collections.
So how do you successfully manage a remote A/R team? As an outsource receivables management firm with remote employees, we have some proven advice to share.
4 Tips to Manage Your Remote A/R Team from A Successful Accounts Receivable Outsourcing Firm
There are many general tips out there about managing remote employees, like implementing good communication software, being strategic about virtual meetings, and finding effective ways to collaborate. All of these tips are helpful, but we have some industry-specific best practices for your remote A/R team to keep in mind:
Set Clear, Measurable Goals and Tasks
Your remote team needs to know exactly what you expect from them. Instead of setting a general goal like, “get our past-due invoices paid,” focus on what day-to-day tasks employees need to perform to make that happen. At Axim, we find that setting goals around daily touches is pretty effective.
For example, we coach our A/R specialists to make between 18-26 touches per hour at a rate of roughly two emails per one call. This helps our team stay on target without overdoing it.
Rather than basing your remote team’s success solely on past-due invoices, consider the bigger picture and use tasks and other metrics to measure your remote team’s success.
It’s normal for leaders to worry about what their remote employees are doing during the workday. It turns out that establishing trust and avoiding micro-managing people is the best way to encourage team performance. Studies have shown micromanagement isn’t only aggravating for employees, it’s also harmful. Micromanagement can lead to decreased productivity, increased stress, and poor communication.
Rather than monitoring your remote employees’ every move, set out simple tasks and targets, and trust people to handle them.
Make It Easy to Monitor Progress
Once you’ve established clear goals and productivity targets, it’s important to have a tool or software program available for employees to monitor their own progress. An appropriate tool will let people view their tasks, access open invoices and closed invoices, and be able to quickly get insight into their performance. (Hint: A good A/R software system can provide this sort of insight.)
Coach As Needed (But Not Around the Clock)
Generally, employees want to do a good job at work. If people aren’t meeting goals, that often means they simply need more coaching or knowledge. To avoid micromanagement, keep an eye on your employees’ performance and productivity metrics for a birds-eye-view of how they’re doing. Monitor things like:
- Number of calls
- Number of emails
- Overall task distribution (i.e., are they spreading their tasks throughout the day, or are they doing a bunch of tasks in the morning and then falling off track)
- Number of closed invoices over time
Don’t check these metrics all the time, but instead, review them weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – and be sure to leave your door open for coaching and questions, too.
Skip the Remote A/R Work and Outsource Receivables
There’s no denying that managing remote employees is more challenging than managing an in-house team. It requires thinking outside the box to find innovative solutions to make things work and keep everyone on the same page.
If you’re willing to work on it, you might find that you prefer remote A/R work and management. But if you have other high-priority responsibilities, why not outsource receivables?