October 5, 2016 by Harry Stoll
All the business owners I know are blessed by legions of loyal customers and clients who pay their bills on time without ever having to be reminded. Whether it’s the local stained glass studio, the podiatrist, or the septic service, these business owners offer their invaluable talents in exchange for a customer’s treasure. That’s what most of us would refer to as a fair trade.
But what happens when a customer does not part with their treasure, yet has taken advantage of the business owner’s talents? Business owners must be prepared to deal with people who ignore their financial responsibilities and create an unfair trade. This does happen to all business owners at some point in time—a customer or client is unwilling, unable or unavailable to pay that treasure they owe them. Since the majority of customers are never a payment problem, it’s easy to be unaccustomed and unprepared to solve any payment problems that may arise. So, what can a business owner do when a customer takes advantage of her talents, but will not pay for her talents in a timely manner?
The business owners I encounter in the collections industry are obviously partnering with UCS because they have already been treated unfairly by a customer or client and need help or a strategy to mitigate the unfairness. One of the most frequent questions I hear from a business owner upon our introduction is how to alleviate or minimize the negative impact of delinquent receivables. Unfortunately, I have no magic wand to alleviate this problem, but there are some principles and strategies to use when a business runs into payment problems.
Be personal. If a bill is being ignored at your office, make personal contact with the debtor.
Be knowledgeable. Find out if the customer or client is having financial problems. It’s important to be able to sort out whether it’s an ability to pay problem or an unwillingness to pay issue.
Be consistent. You need to handle all your billing activities consistently and in a timely manner. This makes the process fair for everyone and ensures that it happens.
Be creative. Encourage the customer to call you directly by stressing the importance of their account to your business, verbally or in writing. Using bold print for the number of days past due, or highlighting the amount due in red ink can be effective tools to prompt payments. Proposing a reasonable payment plan you both can live with can offer a win-win solution, so is offering multiple ways of paying. The easier it is for your clients to pay you, the better off you will be.
Be serious. Send your delinquent accounts to a collection agency. But before doing so, let your customers know that this will be your last request for payment before turning the account over. This lets your customers know you are serious and will often prompt payment from procrastinators.
Business owners did not start their business to be a bill collector (unless of course they started a collection agency) so none of this is anything most business owners want to do. However, due to circumstances beyond a business owner’s control, it becomes necessary from time to time. One way to be prepared for these circumstances is to hire UCS to help bolster your bottom line. Our collection systems are efficient, and our people are honest with everyone. We will make a fair trade with you.
Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com, call 877-723-2902 or check out our YouTube video.