# Average Collection Period Formula: How It Works and Example

Summary:

The average collection period, a crucial metric in finance, measures the time it takes for a business to collect payments from clients. This article explains the formula, significance, and practical applications of this metric, offering insights into improving cash flow management. Learn how a lower average collection period benefits businesses and discover strategies to enhance it effectively.

## Average collection period formula: how it works and practical example

In the realm of finance, understanding the average collection period is vital for businesses to manage their cash flow efficiently. This metric signifies the time it takes for a company to receive payments from its clients concerning accounts receivable (AR). Here, we delve into the formula, significance, and practical application of the average collection period.

### How average collection periods work

Accounts receivable basics

Accounts receivable (AR) is a fundamental concept in business. It represents the money that clients owe to a company for goods or services provided on credit. AR appears as a current asset on a company’s balance sheet, reflecting its liquidity and ability to meet short-term financial obligations without relying on additional cash flows.

The average collection period measures the average number of days between the date of a credit sale and the date when the payment is received. It’s a critical indicator of how efficiently a company manages its AR and ensures smooth operations.

A lower average collection period is generally more favorable because it signifies that the organization collects payments faster. However, excessively strict credit terms may drive customers away in search of more lenient options.

### Formula for average collection period

The formula for calculating the average collection period involves straightforward mathematics. You can use either of the following formulas:

Formula 1:

Average collection period = 365 days * (Average accounts receivables / Net credit sales)

Formula 2 (using receivables turnover ratio):

Average collection period = 365 days / Receivables turnover ratio

To find the average accounts receivables, take the average of the beginning and ending balances for the given period. This calculation can be automated by advanced accounting reporting tools, considering daily ending balances.

Net credit sales are exclusive to credit transactions and exclude cash sales, as the latter don’t have a collection period. Additionally, net credit sales should exclude items like discounts, product recalls, returns, or warranties to maintain consistency.

### Importance of average collection period

The average collection period might seem like a single number, but it holds various essential functions:

• Efficient debt collection: It reflects how efficiently a company collects debts, emphasizing that a credit sale is not complete until payment is received.
• Credit term assessment: It helps assess the strictness of credit terms. Excessively strict terms might discourage clients, while lenient ones may attract those looking for extended payment periods.
• Competitor benchmarking: By comparing with competitors, companies gain insights into their performance, which can influence their operational strategies.
• Early warning system: A lengthening average collection period signals potential issues with outstanding receivables, prompting necessary actions.
• Short-term financial health: It offers a glimpse of a company’s short-term financial health. Without cash collections, a company can face insolvency and struggle to meet its short-term obligations.

### How to use average collection period

The true value of the average collection period lies in its application as a comparative tool. Companies can benefit by consistently calculating and monitoring this metric over time, identifying trends within their business. It’s also valuable for benchmarking against competitors.

Comparing the average collection period with credit terms extended to customers provides insights into the organization’s cash flows. Consistent evaluation of this period directly impacts a company’s financial stability.

While the average collection period isn’t typically a mandatory external report, it serves as an essential internal tool for informed management.

### Example of average collection period

Let’s illustrate the calculation of the average collection period with an example:

Suppose a company maintains an average AR balance of \$10,000 over the year, with total net sales of \$100,000. We can calculate the average collection period as follows:

(\$10,000 ÷ \$100,000) × 365 = Average collection period

In this case, the average collection period is 36.5 days, which is reasonable given that most companies aim to collect within 30 days. A longer period may necessitate a more aggressive collection policy to meet financial obligations promptly.

### Collections by industries

Different industries handle credit and cash in varying ways. For instance, the banking sector relies heavily on receivables due to loans and mortgages, demanding a short turnaround time for collections. In contrast, real estate and construction sectors need steady cash flows to cover expenses, requiring well-timed billing.

### Why is the average collection period important?

The average collection period serves as a key indicator of a firm’s AR management practices. It’s particularly critical for companies heavily reliant on receivables for cash flows. Efficient management of this period ensures sufficient cash reserves to meet financial commitments.

### How is the average collection period calculated?

To calculate the average collection period, divide the average AR balance by total net credit sales and multiply by the number of days in the specific period. This formula offers a clear picture of how well a company manages its accounts receivable.

### Why is a lower average collection period better?

A lower average collection period is preferred because it signifies efficient collections. However, it’s essential to strike a balance, as excessively strict credit terms might deter customers.

### How can a company improve its average collection period?

Companies can enhance their average collection period by implementing various strategies. This includes setting stricter credit terms, limiting credit offerings, and offering discounts for early payments.

In conclusion, the average collection period is a vital tool for managing a company’s cash flow effectively. By understanding its significance and using it as a benchmark, businesses can make informed decisions to optimize their financial health.

Weigh the risks and benefits

Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

##### Pros
• Efficient debt collection
• Assessment of credit terms
• Competitor benchmarking
• Early warning system
• Short-term financial health assessment
##### Cons
• Strict credit terms may deter clients

## Examples of average collection period formula

Understanding the average collection period formula becomes clearer with practical examples. Let’s explore two scenarios to illustrate how it works.

### Example 1

Imagine Company X, which operates in the retail industry, wants to calculate its average collection period for the year. Here are the relevant details:

• Average accounts receivable (AR) balance = \$50,000
• Total net credit sales = \$500,000

To calculate the average collection period, we’ll use Formula 1:

Average collection period = 365 days * (Average AR / Net credit sales)

Substituting the values:

Average collection period = 365 days * (\$50,000 / \$500,000) = 36.5 days

Company X’s average collection period is 36.5 days. This indicates that, on average, it takes 36.5 days to collect payments from its clients.

### Example 2

Let’s consider Company Y, a technology services provider. Here are its figures:

• Average AR balance = \$25,000
• Total net credit sales = \$300,000

Using the same formula:

Average collection period = 365 days * (Average AR / Net credit sales)

Plugging in the numbers:

Average collection period = 365 days * (\$25,000 / \$300,000) = 30.42 days

Company Y’s average collection period is approximately 30.42 days. This means it collects payments slightly faster than Company X.

These examples demonstrate how the average collection period formula provides a quantitative measure of a company’s ability to collect payments promptly. By comparing this metric across different businesses and industries, one can gain valuable insights into their financial efficiency.

### Frequently asked questions (FAQs) About average collection period formula

#### What is the average collection period?

The average collection period represents the number of days, on average, it takes a business to collect payments from its clients for accounts receivable (AR). It’s a crucial financial metric that reflects a company’s efficiency in managing its receivables.

#### Why is the average collection period important?

The average collection period is important because it provides several key insights:

• Efficiency of debt collection: It measures how efficiently a company collects outstanding debts, ensuring a complete credit sale.
• Assessment of credit terms: It helps evaluate the strictness of a company’s credit terms. Excessively strict terms can discourage customers.
• Competitor benchmarking: By comparing with competitors, companies can gain insights into their financial efficiency and operational strategies.
• Early warning system: A lengthening average collection period may signal potential issues with outstanding receivables, prompting proactive management.
• Short-term financial health: It offers a glimpse into a company’s ability to meet short-term financial obligations. Without cash collections, a company can face insolvency.

#### How do you calculate the average collection period?

The average collection period can be calculated using two formulas:

Formula 1:

Average collection period = 365 days * (Average accounts receivables / Net credit sales)

Formula 2 (using receivables turnover ratio):

Average collection period = 365 days / Receivables turnover ratio

To find the average accounts receivables, take the average of the beginning and ending balances for the given period. Net credit sales should exclude cash sales and other non-credit transactions.

#### What does a lower average collection period indicate?

A lower average collection period indicates that a company collects payments faster. While this is generally favorable, it may also suggest that the company’s credit terms are too strict. Customers may prefer more lenient payment terms offered by competitors.

#### Can a company improve its average collection period?

Yes, a company can take steps to improve its average collection period. Some strategies include:

• Stricter credit terms: Limiting the number of days an invoice is allowed to be outstanding.
• Limited credit offerings: Reducing the number of clients offered credit to increase cash sales.
• Early payment discounts: Offering discounts for early payments to incentivize prompt settlements.

#### What are some industries where the average collection period is critical?

Several industries rely heavily on managing their average collection period due to the nature of their business. These include:

• Banking sector: Banks depend on efficient collections to maintain cash flows, especially from loans and mortgages.
• Real estate and construction: These industries require steady cash flows to cover expenses and must bill at appropriate intervals.
• Retail: Retail businesses often extend credit to customers, making efficient collections crucial for cash flow.

The average collection period formula is a valuable tool for these industries and many others.

#### Is the average collection period a mandatory financial reporting requirement?

No, the average collection period is typically not a mandatory external financial reporting requirement. Instead, it serves as an essential internal tool for informed management decisions and financial health assessment.

These FAQs provide additional insights into the average collection period formula, addressing common questions and clarifying its importance in financial management.

## Key takeaways

• The average collection period measures how long it takes for a business to collect payments from clients for accounts receivable.
• A lower average collection period is generally more favorable, indicating efficient collections, but overly strict credit terms can be a drawback.
• Companies can use this metric for debt collection efficiency assessment, credit term evaluation, and benchmarking against competitors.
• A lengthening average collection period may signal potential issues and the need for proactive management.
• Efficient management of the average collection period is crucial for a company’s short-term financial health.
• Examples illustrate the calculation process and its application in real-world scenarios.
• Various industries, including banking, real estate, and retail, heavily rely on managing their average collection period for financial stability.
• The average collection period is not typically a mandatory external financial reporting requirement but serves as a valuable internal tool for management decisions.
###### View Article Sources
1. Average collection period – bdc.ca
2. Average Collection Period | Formula, Example, Analysis – Carbon Collective Investment
3. Average Collection Period and Financial Performance – ResearchGate