Improving debt maturity in a challenging Water industry

Joseph Cooper 10 May 2023
Written by Joseph Cooper
Debt Water
Pair of wellington boots left in a puddle.

Since entering a competitive market, B2B Water suppliers have faced a series of cost-led challenges, arising from exposure to price sensitivity and switching.

In today’s climate, the ability to manage debt effectively is crucial. Business accounts are continuing to be impacted by the economic crisis, and risk being left behind in the battle to be ‘front of wallet’.

How should B2B Water suppliers navigate today’s market?

At this time, suppliers should be focussed on enhancing the maturity of their debt operation, building their capability to meet, and exceed, the benchmarks of the industry.

A refined approach to data and technology will be key, helping suppliers to gain a better understanding of their debt book and collections processes. This will inform improvements in the most important areas, enabling the development of an effective collections strategy.

How can debt maturity be improved in Water?

To improve the effectiveness of their debt operation, Water suppliers should focus on:

  • Ensuring data is accurate at account-level

Having an outdated view of accounts will have a detrimental impact on collections performance. Identifying these gaps is a challenge, which is where site-level monitoring provides significant value. Our debt experts support suppliers in this area, using tracing activity to identify and rectify data issues in account portfolios.

  • Optimising infrastructure for debt management

Internal systems and capabilities must be fit for the purposes of managing debt and collecting cash. Some suppliers are working in a generic infrastructure, which functions from a customer service perspective, but lacks the right level of expertise to manage complex debt scenarios. As the economic crisis continues, there is an increasing need for suppliers to upgrade these systems, and develop their internal capabilities for debt management.

  • Maximising engagement through communications

Engaging with account holders at the right stages of the collections journey is essential. This should be supported by segmentation, allowing you to react appropriately to any triggers throughout the process.

  • Considering the benefits of a debt sale

After exhausting the options above, some account segments may require specialist support to resolve outstanding debt. In these circumstances, it can be more cost-effective to sell the debt to a reputable purchaser. A debt sale will result in an immediate cash uplift, providing a one-off benefit to the P&L. Debt must be 100% provided for by the seller prior to a sale, meaning any income received can be banked as upside. A debt sale will also provide a small reduction in the bad debt position, as the seller recovers a percentage of the debt.

Case study: Debt Taskforce delivers 10x ROI for large B2B Water supplier


A large B2B Water supplier was facing significant bad debt challenges, and required support with managing this. They recognised that their collections strategy was underperforming, seeking opportunities to optimise this and increase output.

Our approach

We carried out a diagnostic of the supplier’s debt operation, assessing the effectiveness and performance of their strategy, operational processes, and system architecture. Our debt specialists identified a range of issues, including weak contact cadence and an unsuitable infrastructure for managing debt, which contained a number of ‘black holes’ for communication.

To rectify these issues, we deployed an on-site Debt Taskforce, supporting the supplier on various fronts. This included the use of site-level monitoring, allowing us to identify mismatches in account data, and focus on the most valuable improvements. We used this information to improve the quality of communications, launching new campaigns to increase engagement at an earlier stage.

Next, we supported the supplier with adopting a debt management system, bringing in subject matter experts to offer guidance on procurement and implementation.

Alongside these improvements, we recommended a debt sale to the supplier, offering a solution for the pots of debt that couldn’t be collected. As the supplier was inexperienced with debt sales, we supported them at every stage of the process, including account selection, purchaser engagements, final delivery, and the embedding of supporting processes.


As a result of our recommendations, the supplier achieved an in-project ROI of 10x. This outcome was realised through the delivery of tailored collections campaigns, which targeted the problematic cohorts identified in our diagnostic. Benefits were also achieved through the successful execution of a debt sale, in which an attractive purchase price was secured.

We also developed our client’s capability to manage future bad debt, delivering key enablers in the form of a new debt management system, process improvements, and changes to its communication strategy.

Joseph Cooper


Joseph supports our Retail clients to improve their operational processes and business performance.

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