Collecting Debt In A Small Community: what happens when Uncle Joe won’t return your invoice?


September 10, 2012 by Rick B

I can’t help but compare living in a small community to one of my all-time favorite shows, Cheers. Many of you are familiar with Cheers, Boston’s most famous corner bar. You see, at Cheers, everyone knows your name- much like living in a small community.

There are many advantages to living in a tight-knit community: businesses are encouraged to work together, you get to know your neighbors, and you develop life-long friendships that can last for generations. These advantages, plus many others, can make doing business in a small or rural community a pleasurable and fulfilling experience for all parties involved.

This of course can be a double-edged sword. What happens when your invoices stop being returned, and you have to call your daughters teacher to inquire about her unpaid bill? This is one example, but you get the point. How do I collect money my business has earned, without embarrassing a friend or alienating a customer?

One solution is to pick up the phone yourself, another is to delegate this unsavory task to an employee. Unfortunately, both of these options typically end with rosy cheeks- everyone involved feels uneasy and a little embarrassed. We’ve all felt embarrassed at some point; it’s part of being human. Feeling embarrassed is not a big deal to some people (I’m quite familiar with the feeling) but for others, it is one of the worst feelings in the world. It is embarrassing enough to get a collection call from a friend, but the awkward exchange the next time you see each other? Brutal.

The thought of this encounter may be enough for some to just write off this debt. Let’s face it, most of us have avoided an uncomfortable situation every now-and-again. You may even justify your avoidance by asking yourself “will an embarrassed customer or patient be quick to utilize your business again soon?”

The answer is generally no, which begs the question; how can I get the bill paid and the consumer back through my doors?

An alternative is to outsource past due accounts to a third-party agency. A third party located a comfortable distance from your business will save your employees (or you) the agony of making these painful phone calls. Now, you may be thinking something like this, “The bill is already late, and now I have to pay someone else to collect my money?”

Outsourcing will typically require that you pay a percentage of the debt collected to the third party. Third party agencies can more than make up what you’re paying them by collecting on debts that you have, or are about to write off at a loss. An experienced and professional collection agency will delicately, yet effectively collect from your customers, and save them the embarrassment that could prevent them from coming back to your business.

Collecting debts in a small or rural community is a delicate task to say the least. Take a look at your past-due accounts, and consider recovering that money by using a third party agency. It will free up your employees to work on other tasks, and can keep people coming back for more.


4 thoughts on “Collecting Debt In A Small Community: what happens when Uncle Joe won’t return your invoice?

  1. beadmirable says:

    So very true, nobody ever wants to be in an “akward” situation like that! I myself live in a small town & you do see people all the time.That is a great idea to have a 3rd party pursue the matter with the trust & comfort that it would be handled in the most respectable & professional manner.

  2. Margot e. Williams says:

    You explained the jobs of a collection agency better than I have ever heard. Your a very gifted writer with insite to put yourself in the shoes of others.

  3. debt collections agencies…

    I was searching for debt collections agencies via Google on Saturday, and I found your page Collecting Debt In A Small Community: what happens when Uncle Joe … to be extremely relevant to collection agencies….

  4. Ricky B says:

    Thanks for all the great feedback!

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