Posts Tagged ‘Credit Control’

Is your credit controller losing you business?

July 29, 2013

Dirty Harry

Collecting money from customers must be one of the toughest and most awful jobs that you have to do in business.

I remember when I was in the drinks industry years ago we had a full time credit controller and I really believe that the nature of her role made her age really quickly. She was the one who had to stop deliveries to slow paying accounts (often this meant a battle with the sales reps and the sales manager) and she had to deal with irate customers.

The poor woman was sick quite a lot and I really put this down to the stressful role she had.

In particular in a small business it can be even more difficult when often the person who does the selling is the same person that does the collecting.

We received an email last week from a supplier who was looking for payment. Payment ran a few days over the standard terms because I was on leave and hadn’t left enough signed cheques. This was no bother and we sorted a cheque out immediately, a few days later than usual.

What really bothered me was the nature of the email, the tone, the lack of manners and a total lack of respect for us – after all we are a customer and to be honest a good one who gives them plenty of business and we do adhere to the payment terms.

My gut reaction was to change suppliers, which I did not do. However, a phone call from a similar supplier pitching their wares at the right moment and I would be listening actively.

I Love Credit ControlThis email was a real pity because the supplier is generally great to deal with. My crew are forever praising them and I know would kill me if I dropped them to use someone else.

I sent the credit controller an email and politely took issue with her manner and explained how it does jeopardise the business that they are doing with us and probably other customers of theirs.

I was speaking to another business owner who explained to me that they have an automated “email writing” system to deal with their credit control. He says often people get irate about the emails they receive because the language used is very blunt and to the point.

I received an automated letter from my bank recently more or less telling me to get my accounts in order as a dormant current account had run €2.50 overdrawn as a result of bank charges ..lovely!

How you collect money is an essential  part of your business reputation and while you have to get paid for the work you do it is important that you do this with courtesy and manners, never undermining your good reputation and all of your hard work.

You don’t need to give any customer an excuse to consider moving to a competitor.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Design firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Handling the pressure of not being able to pay your debts

September 18, 2011
Handling the pressure of debt

Under Pressure

I guess a lot of people are finding themselves in a situation today where they just don’t have the funds to pay what they owe.

What do you do when you find yourself in this situation? – how do you deal with it, how do you cope, how do you handle those phone calls, how do you handle the pressure?

Unless you have been in the situation before do you know what to do or how you would react?

Will you avoid all calls and email requests, will you make promises you just can’t keep, will you tell lies about cheques that have been sent or will you take every call and be up front and honest with every single caller as to what the situation is and how you intend sorting it out?

Will you promise your creditor an update within a fixed time period and actually deliver this update?

When you are in this spot more than likely on one hand you are fighting for survival, for solutions while at the same time trying to deal with this mixture of creditors – angry, understanding, patient, worried all demanding their payments.

A number of years back I found myself in this spot – I was selling the business I was a joint partner of, I had my figures done, money in and money owed. The theory was perfect – I would have enough from the proceeds to comfortably settle all monies due and even have a good balance left over!! A fine reward for 12 years of hard work..

A few things went badly wrong (a landlord deliberately delaying the lease assignment for over a year was the main problem, which caused huge problems as we were operating month to month) and I found myself with a significant shortfall – the day I did my tally that awful, sick sinking feeling just took over my body and I broke into a cold sweat realising that I was in a financial hole.

When that awful sick feeling and sheer panic eventually subsided (this stayed with me for at least a week – a dark place to be) I had to start dealing with the situation.

The supplier phone calls ? I could tell you that I took every one as they came in but honestly I couldn’t handle them, I had enough on my plate trying to get my head right and deal with the situation and I just wasn’t able to cope with these calls at the same time. I had never actually dealt with the suppliers directly, which definitely made it easier.

When I started to calm down I made my plan. I asked my good friend and accountant Tom Sheehan of TA Sheehan & Co in Cork to help.

We figured out how much we could pay everyone and Tom took over the job of negotiating with each supplier. I corresponded with all suppliers by fax (I just wasn’t able for the phone calls) and passed on Tom’s details – he took it from there and successfully settled with all of them. The business had dealings with most of these suppliers for over 12 years so I reckoned that they had made plenty from me over the years – either way I could not pay them what I did not have.

This was a horrible time in my life and I’m sure it was quite unpleasant for those my business owed money to – most of these were big multinationals but some were small businesses and I am sure these were quite worried at the time.

Was I honourable? I guess I was in the end but I do know how difficult it was to deal with those calls – for a while I did hide and I did need help to deal with the situation.

My advice for anyone in this tight spot – do what you can but don’t hide, if you need help then ask for it. Stay honourable ..

PS: Thank you Tom – the help you gave me at this time I’ll never forget and it kept me sane!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Protected: Credit Control Warrior

April 10, 2010

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