Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Credit and Collections

Accounts Receivable: Money which is owed to a company by a customer for products and services provided on credit.

I spend part of most days in the office focusing on our Accounts Receivable. Seems like a larger part lately. I chalk that up to the times. Business is tough out there and just about everyone is feeling the pinch. Still, if I plan to keep my business in business and as far as I know, my family, employees and vendors are counting on that, I have a responsibility to collect what is owed to us. 

Over the years I learned much of what I do in this area from my Dad. He told me many times that there is nothing more important in business than collecting your Accounts Receivable. Makes sense. If you don't you go out of business. I guess the good thing about our Accounts Receivable is that the majority of it is collected within our terms (or very close) through our normal monthly statement process. God bless those customers that handle their debts this way! 

Unfortunately, not all customers fall into this category and that is where the real work begins. Over the years we have developed steps to take at different points in the collection process depending on how the customer is handling paying off the debt. They range from friendly reminders to using a collection agency / attorney. Of course we do everything reasonably possible to avoid that last option but sometimes nothing else works. The most important thing is to treat the customer with respect throughout the process but remain firm regarding the intent and efforts to collect the debt.

Please feel free to share ideas, comments and suggestions.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Great Customer Service

Lately I have become more aware of the customer service I receive when I go shopping, dining out, or when I pay for a service to be performed.  Like most people these days, my families budget is stretched and so when I decide to spend my hard earned cash, getting great customer service means more to me than it used to. Here is an example from yesterday...I needed to get a new passport photo taken to send in with my passport renewal application. Not a big deal and there are lots of places that offer this service. I went to my local Walgreen's because I had been told they do this. It was 8:15 AM when I walked into the store. No one acknowledged me even though there was a person at the checkout near the front door and another stocking shelves in a nearby aisle. I walked around the store for a minute or two looking for a sign or something that would indicate they could do the photo for me. I finally went up and asked an employee who was standing at a sales counter if I could get the photo done. They said that the person who does this in their photo department did not start until 8:00 AM. I told the person that it was 8:15 AM and he said "oh yea. right". He told me he would see if he could find someone to help me. I waited while he walked to the back of the store and disappeared for a few minutes. When he came back, he told me that their photo equipment was not working and also that the photo dept. employee that could help me if the equipment worked would not be in until 10 AM. So I headed down the street to CVS. I was greeted by the first employee that saw me walk in and asked if there was anything they could do to help me. Nice. When I told her what I needed, she said "we can do that, follow me to the photo dept". There she explained to the person working in that area what I needed and that person promptly showed me where to stand, took the picture, asked me if there was anything else I needed and since there was not, had me out of the store in less than 5 minutes with my photos. Long story but here is the time I need anything that I would go to the drugstore for, guess where I am going first? 

How many customers feel this way about your business? Can any of us afford for them not to feel this way about our business?