Account days

Account days, also known as days sales outstanding (DSO), measure the average number of days it takes a company to collect payment after a sale has been made.
Updated: May 24, 2024

3 key takeaways

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  • Account days indicate the average time it takes for a company to collect receivables from customers.
  • A lower number of account days suggests efficient credit and collection processes.
  • Account days are crucial for managing cash flow and assessing the liquidity of a business.

What are account days?

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Account days, or days sales outstanding (DSO), is a metric used in accounting and finance to measure the average number of days it takes a company to receive payment from its customers after a sale has been made. This metric is essential for assessing the efficiency of a company’s credit policies and its ability to manage cash flow. A lower DSO indicates that a company collects receivables quickly, while a higher DSO may indicate issues with credit policies or collections.

How account days work

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  1. Calculate average receivables: Determine the average accounts receivable over a specific period, typically a month or a year.
  2. Calculate total credit sales: Determine the total credit sales for the same period.
  3. Calculate DSO: Use the formula to calculate DSO:DSO=(Average Accounts ReceivableTotal Credit Sales)×Number of DaysDSO=(Total Credit SalesAverage Accounts Receivable​)×Number of DaysThis formula provides the average number of days it takes to collect receivables.

Example of calculating account days

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Suppose a company has an average accounts receivable balance of $50,000 over a month and total credit sales of $150,000 for the same month. The number of days in the month is 30.

DSO=(50,000150,000)×30=10 daysDSO=(150,00050,000​)×30=10 days

In this example, it takes the company an average of 10 days to collect payment after a sale is made.

Importance of account days

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Understanding and managing account days is crucial for several reasons:

  • Cash flow management: Efficient collection of receivables ensures a steady cash flow, which is vital for meeting operational expenses and investing in growth opportunities.
  • Credit policy assessment: Monitoring DSO helps businesses evaluate the effectiveness of their credit policies and make necessary adjustments to minimize risks.
  • Financial health: A consistently low DSO indicates good liquidity and financial health, while a high DSO may signal potential cash flow problems or issues with customer payments.

Real-world application

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Consider a manufacturing company that offers its products on credit to retailers. By regularly calculating and monitoring its DSO, the company can assess how quickly it is converting sales into cash. If the DSO begins to increase, it may indicate that customers are taking longer to pay, prompting the company to review its credit policies or improve its collection processes.

Factors influencing account days

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Several factors can affect the number of account days, including:

  • Industry standards: Different industries have varying average DSOs based on typical credit terms and payment practices.
  • Credit terms: The payment terms extended to customers (e.g., net 30, net 60) can influence the DSO.
  • Collection practices: Efficient invoicing and collection processes can help reduce the number of account days.
  • Customer relationships: Strong relationships with customers can lead to faster payments and lower DSO.

Understanding account days helps businesses manage their receivables more effectively, ensuring a healthy cash flow and overall financial stability. To further explore related concepts, you might want to learn about accounts receivable management, credit policies, and cash flow analysis.

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AI Financial Assistant
Arti is a specialized AI Financial Assistant at Invezz, created to support the editorial team. He leverages both AI and the knowledge base, understands over 100,000... read more.