1. Start earlyContact all delinquent accounts within three to five days of becoming overdue. Waiting 60 or 90 days before contacting past-due customers will have seriously hurt cash flow and repeat sales.
2. Call the largest accounts first
Most companies call their delinquent accounts in alphabetical order. However, 20 percent of your accounts usually represent 80 percent of the dollars. Forget about the alphabet; go after the customers that owe you the most money, then work your way down to the smaller accounts.
3. Keep a systems log to track process problems
Not only does this make it easier to collect your money, it also allows you to constantly upgrade your business processes and become more efficient.
4. Call at the right time
The best time to call commercial accounts is on Monday morning. Start calling personal customers on Thursday and go through Friday, when people usually get paid.
5. Get the right person for the job
Most companies hire accountant-types to handle collections. Unfortunately, they tend to prefer holing up in their cubicles and working with numbers rather than people. Instead, hire out-going people who enjoy interacting with others and talking on the phone.
6. Closing the sale
Contact the decision-maker, determine the type of customer, make your presentation based on the type, and close the "sale" and follow up. Get a firm commitment from the customer on when they will pay you, and use a good contact management system to track.
During stressful times, we must remember the importance of maintaining strong relationships with customers and with fellow employees who are also having to deal with painful external and internal challenges. Remember that many companies are asking fewer employees to accomplish more with fewer resources.
We all must show more appreciation for the greater pressure and growing demands made on employees. We all must remember that customers, even past-due customers, are our business partners, and we must all work hard not to let our frustrations damage our internal and external relationships.