I was thinking about the amount of data that is available to today’s credit manager. Historical data and current facts are keys in making a decision to continue to support a customer. It is quite amazing how much information is right at my fingertips. Reviewing financials, a customers’ average day to pay and understanding their current needs is only part of my decision process. It is important to have data from other sources too.
So who or what are those other sources?
First, I would highly recommend that you belong to an Industry Credit Group, such as any of the 60+ industry-specific ones that Credit Management Association (CMA) offers. An Industry Credit Group is a connection that a credit professional should not live without. It is a source to share data and experiences that are real-time, current and factual about customer trends, from people who share the same customer base that your company does. It is a professional group that allows for networking and a great source of training. Connect to find an industry group in your area. I’ve professionally been a CMA Industry Credit Group member for 17 years.
Another source of data is credit reports. There are many different kinds of credit reports available, including D&B’s business information report, Experian’s business report and Equifax’s small business report, and users of these reports know that each has its pros and cons, and the information can vary between bureaus. It is really up to the credit manager to determine which credit report best suits the needs of their business. The data needs to be current and obviously accurate. The report needs to be easy to obtain and cost effective.
The Big 3 bureaus have their reports, but have you looked at your local NACM affiliate for additional report options? There are great reports that can be obtained there too! Your local NACM affiliate can provide an NACM National Trade Report that has collected data from all members across the country. I am also proud to announce that CMA has recently rolled out its own multibureau anscersX Report. This report pulls data from all 3 bureaus and can be customized to include the data you need in one report.
The data in credit reports is very powerful. A credit manager needs to know how the customer will pay in the future based on past trends. Having the ability to pull a report that has the payment experience from the last month is a tremendous help. I can’t imagine being able to do my job without access to data. How about you? Do you find it easy to access data on your customers? Does it help you make quick decisions with ease? What other tools are you using?
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or firstname.lastname@example.org