On Nov 16, 2016
- Fire when the cost of presence exceeds its value: that's on the self-serving end of things [...and that is one of the ends]
- Fire when bad habits violate master rules: have as few rules as possible; know where lines must be and will be drawn
- Fire when troubling attitudes become contagious: protect your Culture
- Fire when skills do not keep up with change: not ruthlessly; in planned ways...after training & education have been exhausted, without success
- Do it yourself, don't delegate your way out of it: it's about courage and confidence [...these are 'in action', one way or another, for both parties...choose the better course]
- Be concise, yet not rushed: no value in prolonging the stress [...and you better experience some stress, otherwise you are too accustomed to firing people and you will not handle it well]
- Be calm and clear, and not insensitive: expect emotional reactions and negative feedback and know exactly how you will not react poorly to it
- Be kind, and decisive: this is not a time for negotiation
- Be overly fair about money
- Help the person find a more-suitable job: remember, whenever you are firing people you are firing good people
On Jul 13, 2011
When an employee feels unprepared to collect money owed to your company something important has been missed.
The key is: seek out and find what has been missed.
Here are some things that are often missed:
- No written process for collection. Collection should not be viewed as a single-employee function or even a department function. It is an 'enterprise' function. The exercise of thinking collection through and writing process out is important. Collection is not a problem when clear actions are taken at all the steps that 'precede the due date'…good credit process, good contracting process, good invoicing processes, etc.
- Failure to set goals and metrics for measurement of collection success. Goals and metrics should span the hierarchy, from C-level through to the employee with the keyboard and the phone. Without collection goals and action metrics, often, collection becomes a fire-fighting exercise. Under the firefighting mode the task importance is escalated and that places [undue and often extreme] stress on the employee. Situations of escalated stress reduce employee performance and results.
- Failure to make collection a shared priority…i.e., providing training and training-by-example. Collection is one of those tasks that are viewed as unpleasant. Often it is not delegated properly. For example, it is generally a mistake to delegate a task when the 'donor' of the task [the boss] can not or has not performed the task with success. Often, collection is simply handed over to the employee. That places the entire burden on the shoulders of the 'recipient' of the task [the employee]. Some/most people learn from watching others. Most people appreciate knowledgeable support…to backstop their efforts, to bounce ideas off, etc.
- Employee not suited to the collection task. People have areas of personal Strength, i.e., Strength = Talent + Knowledge + Skills. Sometimes the collection person's Strengths are not tapped properly. If that's the case then the collection person needs to change the way collection work is done. That may mean the company's collection process needs to change to suit the incumbent employee. Sometimes the collection person's Strengths do not align with collection work. That means the person should not be performing collection work.
- Failure to place a high-enough priority on collection. For example, many businesses rely on 3rd parties to handle cash-flow problems. Many businesses go about it this way: "If Clients don't pay then we don't pay our suppliers". This approach provides a series of band-aids, which cover up collection problems and reduce the likelihood collection problems will be handled. So, when the collection must be done it is always a piece of firefighting work.
- Issues around Corporate Culture: Paying debts when debts are due is an admirable way of going about business. For any business this is a double-edged sword. And, both edges should be sharpened at the same time. I mean, a business needs to look at how it pays its suppliers at the same time it looks at how it is paid by its Clients. This is a matter of Integrity…which for us is about consistency, not about judging what's right or wrong [i.e., we do not use the word Integrity to judge right from wrong]. If the prevailing corporate culture accepts dragging accounts payable then it will be very difficult to excel at collecting. Conversely, companies that excel at paying suppliers on time have Clients that pay on time. Both edges of the sword are sharp.
When businesses want to do better at collection, a good starting point is Values.
Values-Culture-Communication-Value. It starts with Values and it ends with Value. When we truly deliver Value to Clients, Clients are more inclined to pay on time.
Here is a link to our V-C-C-V
Here is a link to our definition of Integrity
I hope the above thoughts are helpful.
On Dec 14, 2010
7 Tips for creating smoother & less-stressful collection of money owed to you
- Understand the party you are dealing with:
- Is the party creditworthy?
- What’s the party’s current financial and ownership status?
- What’s the party’s process for paying its bills? [who, what, when, where, how…why?]
- Who are the key contacts?
- Understand exactly how they go about making payments
- Understand how the party pays its best supplier
- Understand the specifics of the Purchase & Sale agreement
- Keep your invoices simple and clear
- Issue your invoices consistently…same timing, same method of delivery, etc.
- Over-communicate about your invoicing process…example: send notes explaining your process
- Have a disciplined collection process…write it out…make sure each step is clear. For example:
Step 1: issue invoice on the __ day of the month
Step 2: __ days later contact __________ to ensure your Client received your invoice
Step 3: __ days prior to due date contact ___________ to __________
Step 4: depending on the complexity of your Client’s internal approval process…repeat Step 3
Step 5: [from time to time] when due date arrives contact your Client to thank them for paying
Step 6: in the event payment did not arrive on time
- immediately contact your Client to let them know
- request your Client’s – i.e., your key contact’s - help…ask for an immediate correction
- be friendly, be objective, be clear, & be firm
Step 7: in the event payment is ‘stretched’…see the next Thought Post on this topic…or contact us for suggestions
- Make sure your employees are trained on all aspects of your collection process…including ‘interpersonal skills’ training
Question: How can we do better at collecting?
Answer: Have a disciplined collection process, make sure your people always follow that process, and make sure your Clients know your people have a process and will be following up closely if/when payments are not made on time.
Question: Why spend time on improving collection?
Improving collection increases your bottom line
a number of ways:
- At one end of the spectrum – it reduces bad debt
- At the other end of the spectrum – it reduces your people’s stress levels…better concentration, less mistakes, less talk & more action, etc.
- In between – it reduces use of your line of credit and interest costs, it makes your accountant happy, etc.