When you are in business for yourself, it is not easy to make those collection calls.
Emotions, both subtle and forceful can come into play, on both sides. But as a business owner with outstanding Accounts Receivable, making the calls to collect your money can make or break your bottom line! Let’s examine three emotions, and give you some tips on how to collect your money with less stress.
* Dislike of calling, so constantly put it on the bottom of the “to-do” list
* Dislike of confrontation over the money owed
* Fear of losing the customer
First, you must accept the fact that collections are a normal part of doing business. This will help you to remember that the call is a business transaction, not an emotional experience. Give yourself that mental distance, and cultivate that professional attitude.
Getting paid is the last part of your sales cycle, whether you are paid immediately, or thirty or sixty days later. Your customer is not “doing you a favor” (a commonly experienced feeling) by paying you, they are fulfilling their part of the business contract (written or not).
There is a special chapter in my book “Get Your Money EZ, A Business Owner’s Guide to Collecting Their Receivables” that deals with training your customers. Yes, you can train them to pay you on time! This automatically cuts down on the amount of collections you have to do.
Second, sometimes when you call, you will uncover PROBLEMS instead of payments! Maybe your customer never got the shipment, or it was the wrong item, or for any other reason it needs to be returned, so they have put off paying for it, but never called to let you know it needs to be returned. It is better to take care of these customer service issues now, before the debt or item is really old, and you have been trying for months to collect your money. The best way to avoid confrontations is to give your customers a clear statement of your policies in document form, such as a Terms and Conditions of Sales. You can specify exactly how and when returns are allowed. Realistically, nothing will 100% eliminate confrontation over these types of issues, but having your customers sign your Terms and Conditions of Sales documents gives you a strong legal leg to stand on if the lack of agreement goes as far as small claims court for you to get your money.
There is a chapter in my book “Get Your Money EZ, A Business Owner’s Guide to Collecting Their Receivables” that outlines setting up policy and procedures. Do you have a Terms and Conditions of Sales document as part of your credit policy? You need one! A sample TOC is included in the book, which you can use as a base to customize your own policies. This is not a dry complicated accounting manual. It is easy to read and easy to do, written to help you get results.
Third, there can be a huge fear in the mind of a business owner that if you call to collect, you risk a chance of losing that customer’s future business. You have probably invested some time and money into getting that customer, and have an established “sales relationship”. Now they have to see you as a “bill collector” too. Many business owners have their bookkeeper or other designated people make the collection calls, to side-step this issue. But if you don’t have a person to do that, then it is up to you to make the collection calls.
To put your mind at ease about this, professional collectors (referenced in my book) have said that the exact opposite is true!
To allow the customer to continue to owe you is to actually DRIVE THE CUSTOMER TO YOUR COMPETITION! To collect from them on time is the best customer service, and will ensure them to remain your customer. There is a lot more information for you in the book, “Get Your Money EZ, A Business Owner’s Guide to Collecting Their Receivables”, such as steps to collection, the four steps to a collection call, and taking checks by phone.
The book “Get Your Money EZ, A Business Owner’s Guide to Collecting Their Receivables” is available at the web site as a PDF file, or as a print book, just click on the Business tab.