What is accounts receivable turnover? | Meaning & Definition

Accounts Receivable Turnover

What is Accounts Receivable Turnover?

Accounts receivable turnover is a financial ratio that measures how many times a company collects its average accounts receivable balance during a given period, typically one year. It is calculated by dividing net credit sales by the average accounts receivable balance.

Formula for calculating accounts receivable turnover?

Net credit sales are total sales made on credit, minus any returns, allowances, or discounts. Average accounts receivable is calculated by adding the beginning and ending accounts receivable balances for a period and dividing by two.

Accounts receivable turnover = net credit sales / average accounts receivable

4 benefits of tracking accounts receivable turnover

Accounts receivable turnover is a useful financial metric for businesses because it provides valuable insights into a company's ability to collect payments from its customers and manage its cash flow effectively. Here are some ways in which accounts receivable turnover can be useful:

  1. Evaluating collection efficiency: Accounts receivable turnover can help businesses evaluate the efficiency of their collections process. A high turnover ratio suggests that the company is collecting payments from customers quickly, which can improve cash flow and reduce the risk of bad debts. A low ratio may indicate that the company is struggling to collect payments from customers, which can lead to cash flow problems and financial instability.
  2. Assessing credit policies: Accounts receivable turnover can also help businesses assess the effectiveness of their credit policies. If a company has a high turnover ratio, it may be an indication that its credit policies are effective and that it is extending credit to creditworthy customers. On the other hand, a low ratio could indicate that the company needs to tighten its credit policies and be more selective about who it extends credit to.
  3. Supporting decision-making: Accounts receivable turnover can help businesses make informed decisions about credit terms, payment processing, and collections policies. By tracking the ratio over time and comparing it to industry benchmarks, businesses can identify areas for improvement and make changes to optimize their collections process.
  4. Evaluating financial performance: Accounts receivable turnover can also be used to evaluate a company's financial performance. A high ratio can be a positive signal to investors and lenders, indicating that the company is financially stable and able to manage its cash flow effectively. A low ratio, on the other hand, may be viewed as a red flag, indicating potential financial difficulties and an increased risk of default.

Read the 13 most effective KPIs that every finance executive must track and identify key areas to optimize working capital and improve profitability.

What does a high accounts receivable turnover ratio indicate?

A high accounts receivable turnover ratio is generally seen as a positive sign for a company's financial health. This ratio measures how efficiently a company is able to collect payments from its customers, and a high ratio suggests that the company is collecting its outstanding invoices quickly and effectively.

A high accounts receivable turnover ratio indicates that the company has good cash flow and is not struggling to collect payments from its customers. This can be especially important for companies that rely on a steady stream of cash to fund their operations or invest in growth opportunities. Furthermore, a high ratio suggests that the company has effective credit policies and is able to manage its customer relationships well.

What are some limitations of using accounts receivable turnover as a performance metric?

Accounts receivable turnover may be less useful for companies with irregular sales patterns or large variations in invoice amounts. In these cases, the average accounts receivable balance may not accurately reflect the company's true financial performance.

One major limitation is that it does not account for the quality of a company's customer base. A company may have a high accounts receivable turnover ratio, but if its customers are not creditworthy or have a history of defaulting on payments, the ratio may not accurately reflect the company's financial health.

Another limitation of accounts receivable turnover is that it does not consider the nature of a company's industry. For example, a company in a highly competitive industry may have a lower accounts receivable turnover ratio simply because it has to offer extended payment terms to remain competitive. Similarly, a company with a long sales cycle may have a lower ratio because it takes longer to collect payments from customers.

How can a company improve its accounts receivable turnover ratio?

Improving accounts receivable turnover is a key goal for many businesses, as it can help to free up cash flow and improve financial stability. There are several strategies that companies can use to improve their accounts receivable turnover ratio:

  1. Implement more efficient credit policies:

    One of the most effective ways to improve accounts receivable turnover is to implement more efficient credit policies. This could include conducting credit checks on customers before extending credit, setting clear payment terms and deadlines, and closely monitoring customer payment histories.

  2. Offer discounts for early payment: Offering customers discounts for early payment can be a powerful incentive to encourage prompt payment. This can help to improve cash flow and reduce the amount of time it takes to collect outstanding invoices.

  3. Improve invoicing and payment processing systems:

    Streamlining invoicing and payment processing systems can help to reduce errors and delays, which can improve the speed and accuracy of customer payments. This could include implementing automated billing systems or investing in software that can help to track invoice status and payment history.

  4. Work with customers to resolve payment issues:

    When customers are slow to pay or are experiencing financial difficulties, it can be helpful to work with them to resolve issues and find mutually beneficial solutions. This could include offering payment plans or renegotiating payment terms to make it easier for customers to meet their obligations.

  5. Utilize factoring or invoice financing:

    Factoring or invoice financing can be effective ways to improve accounts receivable turnover by providing access to immediate cash. These options involve selling outstanding invoices to a third-party company, which then provides a cash advance to the business. While this option can be more expensive than other strategies, it can be helpful for businesses that need to improve cash flow quickly.

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