Buyer evaluation and billing techniques cut back unhealthy debt
Increase in the number of indebted Brazilians lights up alert among small ones, who create strategies to mitigate risks
Brazil registered a record default rate in October, with 69.1 million debtors. It is the highest figure in Serasa’s historical series, which started in 2016. To adapt to the scenario, small companies invest in credit analysis of new customers and collection management systems.
Research carried out by Sebrae in July showed that 34.2% of micro and small businesses in the state of São Paulo have clients with late payments. Default has increased compared to 2021 for most companies, still according to the study.
The first debtors of furniture maker Quarteto, founded in 2014 in São Paulo, appeared this year. According to the partner Adriano Souza, 29, the default comes mainly from those who buy in installments with the bank slip. “The safest thing is to sell with a credit card, because the bank pays the seller. When paying via bank slip, the customer may experience unforeseen events,” he says.
Diego Contezini, CEO of financial management company Asaas, recommends that businessmen prefer credit cards for installment sales. On the slip or check, he says that the ideal is to analyze the buyer’s credit on platforms such as SPC (Credit Protection Service) and Serasa to understand his payment capacity.
The entrepreneur can restrict the release of credit based on the consumer’s score, in addition to thinking about payment terms that help him maintain the sale without taking greater risks.
Companies that don’t have the resources to access the score of their potential customers tend to create sales patterns according to the buyer’s profile, says Insper entrepreneurship professor Marcelo Nakagawa. In these cases, factors such as age and source of income help to indicate predictability of payment and determine whether or not the seller can release the credit.
Nakagawa says that, in B2B category businesses (sales from companies to other companies), checking the score is even more necessary, because the amounts and complexity of the charge tend to increase. “These are consultative sales and take longer to happen, so they allow for a more sophisticated analysis.”
Debts also grow among businesses, according to October data from Serasa. Around 6.3 million businesses are in default — of these, 5.9 million, or 93.6%, are micro or small companies.
Owner of Paes e Filhos shirt shop in São Paulo, Renato Paes Júnior, 39, focuses on wholesale sales to other shopkeepers. Founded in 2019, the company with three employees is expected to earn BRL 1 million in 2022. Since last year, Renato has adopted measures that have helped him reduce the default rate from around 12% to an average of 5% to 7%.
The entrepreneur consults, in Serasa, the credit score and transactions with other companies. He does the same with older customers to see if their situation is still the same as the last purchase.
In addition to the credit analysis, Renato checks how long the buyer’s CNPJ has existed, asks for documents that prove his registration with legal bodies, such as state registration, and asks for invoices invoiced for purchases from other companies.
“As much as the CNPJ is clean, nothing appears on Serasa and has commercial information, I try to build a financial relationship with the client. So, in the first purchase, we close a smaller quantity of pieces”, he says.
According to Luiz Rabi, Chief Economist at Serasa Experian, developing a relationship allows the entrepreneur to expand options for the client, in case he offers new negotiation proposals. If the term payment methods are restricted to credit cards, for example, it is possible to expand to bank slips or checks for customers who are already loyal.
Establishing constant communication with the customer is another step towards reducing defaults, helping them to remember their commitment to the seller. Another possibility is to give discounts to those who pay their bills on time.
According to Marcelo Nakagawa, from Insper, reminders must be sent before the payment deadline expires. The strategy must be inserted in a billing rule that divides the communication with the consumer into a few stages, according to the advance of the debt.
The ruler helps to establish collection policies, from before the payment is made to the lawsuit, in case the debtor does not want to negotiate after being called upon by credit companies.
At Quarteto Móveis, partner Adriano Souza invests in a platform that helps with financial management, informing the customer’s payment situation. The system automates billing and indicates whether there are overdue bills.
Adriano establishes new deadlines if the buyer does not pay on the stipulated date. If the debts are not settled after three renegotiations, the client is denied by credit companies.
For the entrepreneur, judicialization is used only as a last resort, if there is no debt renegotiation. This year, Adriano filed a lawsuit to demand payment from two defaulting customers. With 25 employees, Quarteto Móveis should earn BRL 3 million this year. Default was between 1% and 2%.
According to experts, the maximum recommended rate is up to 5%. But Luiz Rabi, from Serasa, says that the figure depends on the income of the sector in which the company in question is inserted.
“In some businesses, any default above 1% can result in losses. The smaller the profit margin, the smaller the space for debtors”, he says.