Benefit of the Month: anscersX Multibureau Trade Credit Report

Have you checked out CMA’s exclusive anscersX multi-bureau trade credit report that contains the key factors about your customers payment habits from the top three credit reporting bureaus?
The anscersX multi-bureau commercial credit report combines key elements of the data from the three largest trade credit reporting agencies (D&B, Experian and Equifax), giving credit managers the most complete payment story available. The report is affordably priced, which is based on the number of reporting agencies you request. Better yet, anscersX Reports are available on a transactional basis – no contracts, no minimums, no hassles!

For more information on the report, click here.

Prevailing Wage…for Material Suppliers???!!!, by Christopher Ng, Esq.

Christopher Ng, esq.Last week, I came back from the American Bar Association Forum on Construction Law Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. On my last night there, my wife and I went to the Grand Ole Opry. One of the featured country artists that night asked the audience, “You know what happens when you play a country music record backwards? You get your truck back, you get your dog back, you get your wife back…” Well, after discussing California’s new Labor Code section 1720.9 (which goes into effect on July 1, 2016) with some of my colleagues from around the country, I couldn’t help but wonder if we here in California are headed backwards when it comes to making our prevailing wage law less cumbersome and taxpayer-funded construction projects less expensive.

California law has traditionally drawn a distinction between the performance of on-site construction labor and the supply of construction materials. AB 219 added new Labor Code section 1720.9, signaling the extension of a legislative trend adding significant complexity, risk and cost for contractors and material suppliers on public works of improvement.

Specifically, AB 219 abrogates and supersedes conflicting case law and a prior (non-precedential) coverage determination by the California Department of Industrial Relations that the delivery of ready-mix concrete to a public job does not constitute a public work subject to prevailing wage laws. As of July 1, 2016, the hauling and delivery of ready-mix concrete from a commercial plant to a public works job will be subject to California’s prevailing wage law.

The “hauling and delivery of ready-mixed concrete to carry out a public works contract” means the job duties for a ready mixer driver and includes receiving the concrete at the factory or batching plant and the return trip to the factory or batching plant. While AB 219 is specific to concrete suppliers, some believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that the co-sponsors of the new law (i.e., The California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, The State Building and Construction Trades Council, The California Labor Federation AFL-CIO) will push for additional legislation that could require prevailing wage for other material suppliers. What logical and legal justification exists for excluding the delivery of steel, lumber, paint, fuel, plumbing supplies, electrical components and even port-a-potties?

In the face of vociferous opposition from Associated General Contractors (AGC) and other industry associations, the labor organizations behind AB 219 convinced the legislature and Governor Brown that the new law was merely a logical expansion of prevailing wage law. Specifically, these advocates argued that concrete delivery was already subject to prevailing wage law if delivered by the project direct contractor or a subcontractor, but just not by a material supplier.

So what’s the big deal and what could possibly go wrong? Here are some highlights of the new law which apply to all public projects awarded after July 1, 2016:

  • The cost of almost every public construction project in California will increase; in fact, according to the AGC of California: (1) ready-mix producers estimate that the cost of concrete for projects under AB 219 would increase by 30 to 40 percent; (2) state agencies indicated that the fiscal impact of the new law will exceed $35,000,000; and (3) Caltrans estimated $1 million annually in administrative costs to administer
    the law.
  • Ready-mix haulers and entities that deliver ready-mixed concrete to public works projects will be considered public works contractors under California Labor Code section 1722.1 and must register with the Department of Industrial Relations as set forth in Labor Code section 1725.5.
  • Ready-mix suppliers must develop an accounting and payroll infrastructure capable of processing, submitting and maintaining certified payroll records.
  • Because the material is perishable, a driver’s routine may last just 90 minutes or less (i.e., take load from the plant to the job, wait for truck to be unloaded and return to the plant) and a typical work day will often include deliveries to both public and private works of improvement; therefore, companies must implement a system that can divvy up each driver’s records on an hourly basis to separate private and public work pay records.
  • Before furnishing concrete to a public works job, a ready-mix supplier must enter into a written agreement with its contractor customers, which specifically requires compliance with prevailing wage law (can a standard credit agreement and subsequent exchange of a written quotation, purchase order and/or invoice ever suffice???).
  • Within three working days after their drivers have been paid for the prevailing wage work, ready-mix suppliers must submit certified payroll records to their contractor customers and each project’s direct contractor (if that’s a different entity), accompanied by a written time record certified by the individual driver(s).
  • As with other subcontractors subject to prevailing wage laws, contractors are ultimately responsible for unpaid prevailing wages and unpaid penalties resulting from improper wage payment or improper certified payroll record submission; as such, public works contractors assume more risk as their ready-mix supply “subcontractors” attempt to abide by these new requirements after July 1, 2016.

Without a doubt, California has further complicated its already cumbersome regulatory scheme for public works. Ready-mix suppliers must now gear up to navigate the complexities California prevailing wage law and contractors should double-check their standard form contracts to ensure they contemplate and properly allocated the new risks imposed by AB 219. For additional information and for F.A.Q., see the AB 219 Fact Sheet at http://www.calcima.org/pdf/AB219FactSheet.pdf

For more information contact: Christopher, E. Ng, esq., (310)552.3400 or cng@gibbsgiden.com

The content contained herein is published online by Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP (“Gibbs Giden”) for informational purposes only, may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements, and does not constitute legal advice. Do not act on the information contained herein without seeking the advice of licensed counsel. Copyright 2016 Gibbs Giden Locher Turner Senet & Wittbrodt LLP ©
www.gibbsgiden.com 

CMA’s Supplier Risk Credit Group to Establish Procedures for Vetting Vendors

Last year, under the leadership of Alvin Moreno of Nestle Inc., CMA launched the Supplier Risk Credit Group, a Best Practices industry exchange group for those who have been assigned the task of vetting their vendors or for those credit managers who wished to enhance their position at their company by learning this job. Who better than a credit manager to evaluate RISK from the vendor side of the chain?

The Group has had four informative discussions and has attracted members such as PepsiCo to the meetings.

On Wednesday, January 27, we are taking the information gathered at these meetings and beginning to build the platform establishing policies and procedures for those assigned this task.

If you have an interest in this or would like to pass it on to the appropriate person at your company, we would be delighted to have them join us in person in Burbank or through web conferencing.

Here is a partial agenda for the meeting:

REVIEW OF LAST MEETING
1. Members describe any enhancements they have made to their vetting process or roadblocks encountered
2. Groundwork and Decisions Required Prior to Establishing Process (including 80/20 Rule-Which vendors will you include in your process?, Has a budget been discussed and approved?, Has Staffing been arranged?, Identify critical vendors, single, sole source vendors outside of 80/20 rule, Has an acceptable chain of command been established?, Has a workable timeline to roll out, review and assess been established?)

VENDOR ONBOARDING PROCESS BEGINS
1. Receive request for NEW vendor investigation
2. Vendor fills out company questionnaire (Provide quality, safety and financial information)
3. Initiate Vendor Qualification process
4. Vendor Financial Information uploaded
5. Evaluation Process Begins (Credit investigation; Relationship: Critical, single, sole; Demographic, government, industry)
6. Vendor Approval, review schedule set
7. Q & A

Please let us know if you would like to be a guest at this meeting by contacting Larry Convoy at lconvoy@emailcma.org.

The Price is Right for Industry Credit Group Membership, by Larry Convoy

There’s a lot that’s bundled in the $99 a month Industry Credit Group dues that group members pay. But, for sake of argument, let’s pretend for a moment that CMA unbundled those items and that you had to pay for each of those benefits separately.

Many service providers, including CMA, have weighed the advantages of an unbundled price structure versus a bundled one; to charge for each item or service as opposed to a monthly fee. I have devised the following pricelist and an approximate cost for a typical month in most groups to see what that $99 a month really gets you.

INDUSTRY GROUP STATEMENT FOR COMPANY XYZ FOR OCTOBER, 2015

  • Received 10 RFIs in month @ $22.50(cost of average Experian or Dun & Bradstreet, most groups use double that amount)
  • 12 NSF check notifications @ $5 each
  • 4 placed for collection notices @$50 each
  • 1 change of owner announcement -NO CHARGE
  • 1 Chapter 7 bankruptcy alerts @ $500
  • 2 “business is closed” alerts @ $250 each
  • 1 mechanic’s lien filed @ $300
  • 4 clearances at group meeting @ $5 each
  • Educated by group member on various topics-PRICELESS
  • Recommendation NOT TO BUY computer system or software package by member-$10,000
  • Informed of new A/P contact at customer’s or owner’s cell phone #- NO CHARGE

This adds up to $11,805 for one month, considerably higher than the bundled price of $99/month now charged to most groups. This does not include a Past Due list or Meeting Review reports.

While I do not think this will ever become the standard, it does make you realize how cost effective participation in a group is. The more RFIs submitted and alerts posted, the Return on Investment becomes even greater.

With the holidays upon us, make sure you set aside time to attend the meetings and submit your reports. The survival of many businesses will be determined in the next 2 months.

Have a great November,

Larry Convoy

President’s Blog: It’s Time to Start Thinking Globally, By Mike Mitchell, President & CEO

How can you play and get paid in the global marketplace? Over the last two years, CMA has been exploring how member companies can grow export sales using a variety of credit and trade finance resources to mitigate the risk of selling into other countries.

Today, I am attending Discover Global Markets, a two-day export conference hosted by the U.S. Commercial Service, the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (http://export.gov/discoverglobalmarkets). I am looking for information and insights I can bring back to the CMA membership.

In the meantime, we have many other resources that can help you sell into the global marketplace. CMA established a strategic alliance with the U.S. DOC’s Commercial Services because its trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries help U.S. companies get started in exporting or increase sales to new global markets (http://www.trade.gov/cs). Regional Director Richard Swanson recently participated in a panel discussion on international collections at CMA’s Fall CreditScape Summit, and he has provided CMA members with guidance on how to access U.S. government export resources in many other countries. You can also find all the basics at www.export.gov.

When you conduct international credit investigations, CMA recommends long-time partner Skyminder which offers reliable, up-to date information on millions of public and private companies worldwide. Details on how to find them are here.

CMA has three upcoming webinars before the end of the year that will give you more tools for exporting your products and securing your receivables.

  • December 1, 2015: How to Achieve Procurement Using Foreign Trade Zones (Free Webinar) 9:00 AM PST
  • December 2, 2015: Financing Foreign Receivables (Free Webinar) 9:00 AM PST
  • December 3, 2015: Comparison of Credit Risk Mitigation Tools (Free Webinar) 9:00 AM PST

Details on these can be found at http://www.anscers.com/upcomingevents.aspx

Is your company missing out on the other 95% of the world market? Stay tuned.

Outsourcing Your Order to Cash Functions: Eight Challenges to Consider, by Robert Shultz

This is part 2 of a 2-part series on Order to Cash functions. Part 1 of the series can be seen here.

Part 2

 Outsourcing is not easy. It requires planning and tight partnering between the provider and the client. To be successful critical challenges must be overcome. All the processes related to the outsourced functions must be considered and satisfied.  The quote to cash process must be managed holistically looking at performance measures and Service Level Agreements illustrating joint accountability for the desired outcomes. The impact on your customers should be positive.

Your company may be dependent on the provider’s technology.  Make sure it is robust and secure.  Your users and management should have complete transparency to day to day account management and performance results.  Integration of all documentation with easy access to materials for research, collections and legal purposes should be embedded in the provider’s process.

  1. Requires Significant Pre-Implementation Preparation

Prepare your company for changes with thorough up front planning.  By doing so, as a client you can expect to see the efficiency, support and the hoped for return on the outsource investment.

Prior to engaging an outsource provider it is essential to define the scope of the engagement, expected results and be comfortable with the anticipated return on investment.

This requires input and participation by all internal stakeholders affected by the new arrangement.

  • Metrics: Both parties must agree on specific Service Level Agreement (SLA) metrics. These will be incorporated into the outsource engagement agreement.
  • Communication plan: Require the outsource provider to report to and meet with internal clients routinely.
  • Pre-engagement due diligence: The provider must have a thorough understanding of the client’s policies, processes, customers, pre-engagement performance issues and trends, backlogs, systems, workflows. The due diligence should also include an assessment of the needs and capabilities of stakeholder functions outside the scope of the engagement where there are mutual concerns. Doing this is essential and will definitely keep the noise level down once the change is underway.
  • Provider’s staff and management: Understand the provider’s staff qualifications and management structure, tenure and turnover history.  Nothing is worse than handing over key functions to a third party, particularly in a remote location, when the individuals assigned the work are not trained, do not have the requisite experience and are not managed by someone with experience in a similar engagement.
  1. Potential Loss of Managerial Control

Whether you sign a contract to have another company replace an entire function or department or single task, you are turning the management and control of that function over to another company. It is imperative to set specific expectations for performance and transparancy at the outset of the engagement.  This is how a client manages the provider.

Identify the SLA’s that represent the service levels you are looking for.  Try to integrate linked functions with common targets.  There are lots of possibilities.  For example, Dispute reduction targets could link Sales, Customer Service and Credit.  Other departments like pricing or returns control could share a target for deduction reduction, resolution turnaround and deduction write offs.  Require constant monitoring and periodic reporting of results.

If the outsource provider beats expectations, build an incentive into the agreement, if expectations are missed assess a penalty until performance gets back on track.

Remember, at the end of the day both you and your outsource partner must find the relationship profitable.  A poorly planned implementation with few or inappropriate expectations is likely to be a financial loser for both parties and end poorly.

 

  1. Hidden Costs

Beware of hidden costs as you negotiate the outsource agreement.

  • Extra fees and charges may result from a request by the client not covered in the contract.
  • Consider legal fees and the cost of ongoing liaison and communication with the outsource provider in determining your real costs.
  • Regardless how effective and efficient an outsource provider is, an internal dedicated resource is essential for day to day liaison. This individual will be responsible for coordination between the internal stakeholders, management and the outsource provider. Responsibilities should include: Coordinating inquiries from the outsource provider related to problem transactions, monitoring service level agreement metrics, reviewing performance reports and keeping management informed.

 

  1. Threat to Security and Confidentiality

Evaluate the outsourcing company carefully. Understand how they maintain data integrity and security. What is acceptable down time, recovery time, are they keeping redundant files in a safe location?  You contract should have a penalty clause for any breach in security or confidentiality. If your company is required to comply with Sarbanes Oxley confirm the provider is SAS compliant.

 

  1. Quality Problems

The outsourcing company is motivated by profit. There is nothing wrong with that but this is a key reason to set expectations upfront. As previously stated define SLA’s carefully. Make it financially painful for the provider to miss expectations. The real objective is to reduce provider errors and delays affecting your business. Require the provider to report shortfalls in expected results, the driving reasons and the action plan to get back to acceptable performance. Often the client finds their own internal operation is to blame. Use the provider’s feedback to fix the root cause internally.

Businesses grow, retract, enter new markets and face changing competitive landscapes.  Be comfortable before making a provider choice that the provider will be able to rapidly respond to changes in the business environment.

 

  1. Tied to the Financial Well-Being of the Provider

Since you will be turning over part of the operations of your business to another company, you will now be tied to the financial well-being of that company. Do a thorough risk assessment up front. Make sure you periodically review the outsourcer’s financial stability and standing in the marketplace.

 

  1. Employee Attitude and Morale

The word “outsourcing” can have negative connotations for your internal workforce, especially those left behind. Be sure your key individuals are part of the outsourcing engagement early in the process. They must be kept aware of the engagement’s scope and intent. Open and frequent communication is key.

 

  1. Compare the Service Level and ROI Between Outsourcing and Developing Internal Capability

Before deciding to outsource key functions take a look at what it would take to develop your own internal capability.

  • Is it cost effective to simply automate a process that is currently labor intensive?
  • Would process integration between departments reduce costly delays and exceptions?
  • If there were coherent measurements, performance tracking, accountability and reporting timeliness and transparency, would costs go down and customer service improve?
  • Lastly, what is the value of your company’s “intellectual equity”? By outsourcing entire functions with no one left internally with the knowledge and expertise needed to perform those functions, a client becomes increasingly dependent on the provider.  At some point it becomes an overwhelming and possibly an insurmountable task to bring the functions back in house.  No one is there capable of the handoff.

 

Bottom line, the grass is not always greener…..

 

Robert S. Shultz is a founding partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on delivering quality solutions that improve client revenue opportunities, cash flow, operational efficiency and customer retention and satisfaction and when needed, management and staff training. He can be reached at (805) 520-7880. For more information, visit Q2C’s website at www.quotetocash.com.

Attendees Agree: CreditScape Fall Summit Was a Success

The CreditScape Fall Summit, an interactive learning seminar and workshop which took place September 17-18 at the Tropicana Las Vegas, was a success, according to preliminary survey results that were tabulated after the event.

Among the feedback received: “What key takeaways did I get? There were too many to list. There were takeaways from every single speaker.” Another attendee said, “I learned we need to use automation much more. We can start by using metrics.” Several other attendees mentioned that they’ve already recommended this event to a colleague.

Plans are already underway for a 2016 Spring CreditScape and Annual Meeting, March 24-25, 2016 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach. Details about the event are forthcoming.

Thanks again to all who attended the event!

"Speed networking" event allowed attendees to discover services that can help them "prevent collections" at the 2015 CreditScape Fall Summit.
“Speed networking” event allowed attendees to discover services that can help them “prevent collections” at the 2015 CreditScape Fall Summit.

The power of “WE” (not just “ME”) submitting your company’s full A/R, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Submitting your company’s full A/R has been talked about quite a bit this summer. There is a reason for that…it’s important. I wanted to take a minute to point out the value and personally ask for your support in this request. You know, the more companies that contribute, the more people that will benefit. If you contribute, your company will have an advantage. Besides, with today’s web-based technology, it’s very simple, fast, and secure to do. Let’s all support Credit Management Association and contribute our full A/R’s so we can all make better business decisions.

Below are a few bullet points as to the value of submitting your full A/R:

  • Reference Information – Trade experience will be available to you right away. No need to wait for faxes any longer.
  • Supports NACM and CMA – This contribution will support the National Trade Credit Report (NTCR) as well as members at Credit Management Association.
  • Easy to Contribute – Most of us already submit to our Industry Trade Groups. You can use the same format such as Excel to contribute your full A/R and send it right off to CMA.
  • Informed Decisions – You will be able to approve credit applications in a timely manner with current up-to-date information. This will also help you with updating accounts, when those big orders come in at the 11 hour. This happens to all of us.
  • Supports Well Established Customers – Members will be able to support their good paying customers and everyone will know who is consistently paying on time.
  • No Need to Respond to RFI or Group Lists – This will save time and money as contributors’ information will automatically be added to the Anscers database. This is a nice feature. Additionally, this will also strengthen your Industry Credit Group.
  • Reports Delinquent Customers – Members will know who isn’t paying regularly month in and month out.
  • CMA President Mike Mitchell has offered an incentive – Beginning October 1, members who support the NTCR program with their monthly accounts receivable contributions will get 25 free NTCR reports annually and receive a discounted price of $9.95 per report over and above those 25 free reports. To get complete details please go here.

And, as always, Credit Management Association is here for YOU! Make sure you talk to your leaders to see if you can take advantage of this benefit. You can’t go wrong. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to read this blog.

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support. I encourage you to send in any ideas to improve your credit association. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

10 Negotiating Tips You Need To Know, by Robert S. Shultz

Negotiation is not a contest to see who can prevail. It is the “art” of getting to the point where two parties can agree on critical concerns. It encompasses employing core negotiation principles, the use of applicable strategies addressing the situation, focus on specific objectives, having a fallback position and, if all else fails, knowing when to walk.

Following are 10 considerations creditors can use to improve negotiation results. This is not complete list by any means. However, these points are critical for a successful negotiation outcome.

1. Don’t alienate the other party: In an effective negotiation, both sides must have the desire to reach a conclusion without alienating the other side. In the end, both sides should be satisfied with the result. If your counterpart seems unwilling to reach a desirable outcome, find points that will gain support and acceptance. Effective negotiation requires knowing how to satisfy a customer’s needs and amicably resolve differences. By being skilled in negotiating you will be able to collect more dollars, improve overall performance, and improve customer satisfaction.

2. Practice effective communication: Successful negotiation involves effective communication between the parties. To eliminate communications roadblocks, consider the following:
• Listen first. Pick up on what is said to clarify or modify your position.
• Find a basis for common understanding.
• Clearly state your case and what you want.
• Recognize the style of the other side and communicate in a fashion they can relate to. Don’t be intimidated or overwhelmed by aggressive behavior coming from the other side. Keep focused on your objectives and remain calm. If things become unprofessional with no change of behavior in sight, be prepared to walk.
• Deal with the decision maker. Invest your time with someone who can make a decision.
• Ask probing questions that cannot be answered with a “Yes” or a “No” and make the other side explain the answer.

3. Avoid elevating issues into a conflict:
• Find common ground: Both parties should have a strong understanding of one another’s needs.
• Break down issues into manageable/understandable pieces: Sometimes an impasse can be avoided by breaking the issues down. Start with what you can agree on. Attack the easiest issues first. You may find when the easy issues are resolved most, if not all, of the big issues have evaporated.
• Build a track record of trust: Once you have agreed on issues where some give and take was possible, a trust develops between the parties

4. Practice the “Four C’s” of negotiating: These points describe an approach. Not everyone you come up against will use this approach.
• Caring: Be sincere. Listen to the other party and be interested in their issues.
• Calm: This is a tactic that will encourage the other side to state their position and objections without undo emotion. When they are excited and you are calm, it tends to bring them down.
• Clear: Confirm the other party heard you and clearly understands your position. To avoid misunderstanding, restate what you hear. Repeat what is said and keep repeating until you get it right. It may take several tries.
• Comprehensive: Prepare yourself as best you can under the circumstances, time constraints and information available. Think about: Possible “What Ifs” and “What Nots.”

5. Prepare yourself in advance of a negotiation:
• Do your homework and learn everything you can about the other side. Try to understand their motives and objectives. Determine what you want to accomplish. In face-to-face meetings, have an agenda handout or an executive summary.
• When the negotiation starts, have all the necessary documentation in front of you. Have a plan for your initial position and your final position.
• Have a primary and secondary goal: A primary goal is a necessary outcome. A secondary goal is what you can accept and still meet your company’s needs.

6. Understand your “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” (BATNA): This is the course of action you will take if the current negotiations fail and an agreement cannot be reached. This is different than your “walk away” point. Very often if a win-win cannot be achieved, going for a “no deal” could be the best answer. You can’t win every time. There may be business factors that override a negotiated settlement if one cannot be reached.

7. Define the negotiation scope and approach: This will depend on several factors, each of which must be considered as you enter any negotiation with a customer.
• What are the key issues or obstacles that need to be addressed? Is it payment? Does the other party need additional information to meet your request?
• What are your restrictions? (Time, costs, etc.) Are you up against a deadline?
• Is this a major issue or a priority for your company? Should you spend a little or a lot of time dealing with this?
• Can you trade on an issue that you feel has limited importance to win on a major one?

8. Know who you will be negotiating with: What is their negotiating style? Determine how you expect them to approach a negotiation? Work to establish a rapport at the outset of the negotiation. Separate people from the problem. Remember, negotiators are people first. In most supplier/customer negotiations, the negotiator has two basic interests: The issues at hand, and a desire for a continuing relationship between the parties.

9. Understand the business and future relationship potential: Is this customer of strategic importance to your company? Review your company’s historical relationship with this customer. Is the issue at hand an anomaly, or is it a repetitive issue? What is the revenue and profit potential in the future? Is the relationship worth saving?

10. Be culturally sensitive:
• Don’t Apply the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Use the “Platinum Rule” – “Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.”
• Understand what is offensive: You might be comfortable looking someone straight in the eye, introducing yourself with a firm handshake, being direct and open and getting right to business. Other cultures encourage other behaviors.
• Be sensitive to the appropriate sequence of business and negotiation: It is not appropriate in some cultures to first do business and then develop a relationship. You are expected to develop a relationship and then do business. You need to understand what goes first.
• Understand the “real” message: Cultures vary in the way they communicate their message. You must be sensitive to these differences to understand what they are telling you and react effectively.

Effective negotiation is truly a combination of art and science. It takes planning and effort to reach a result acceptable to both parties. In doing so, business between the parties can continue. As a supplier, you can collect more cash and keep more customers.

Robert S. Shultz is a founding partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on delivering quality solutions that improve client revenue opportunities, cash flow, operational efficiency and customer retention and satisfaction and when needed, management and staff training. He can be reached at (805) 520-7880. For more information, visit Q2C’s website at www.quotetocash.com.

Do’s and Don’ts Guidelines of Responding to Credit Inquiries, by Michael Dennis

Michael Dennis
Michael Dennis

Creditors are frequently asked to provide credit references. Doing so correctly protects customer as well as the creditor. The following are some do’s and don’ts guidelines for the exchange of credit information:

  • Don’t share anything except factual information [data you can prove is correct]
  • Never ever discuss your future intentions, and don’t ask about the future intentions of anyone else
  • Don’t ask for advice about how to deal with a customer
  • Never offer advice of another creditor
  • Don’t discuss your terms of sale, or ask other creditors to discuss their terms of sale
  • Never reveal the source of credit information

These guidelines are for the protection of all creditors and should be adhered to at all times.  Are you compliant with these rules?  I welcome your comments.

Michael C. Dennis is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit, a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. His most recent book, “Happy Customers, Faster Cash,” is available at amazon.com. He can be contacted at 408-204-0129.

Obtaining Customer Social Security Numbers (a follow up), by Michael Dennis

In the upcoming meeting in September in Las Vegas, I plan to explore why, when and how attendees are using social security numbers they request on their credit applications. My assumption is they use Social Security Numbers (SSNs) to obtain consumer credit reports which become part of the decision process about extending credit B2B to entities such as sole proprietorships and partnerships. But that assumption could be wrong.

Along the same lines, I assume that every CMA member company that obtains SSNs knows about the overlapping state and federal laws that address the duties and obligations of companies that obtain SSNs from applicants. And maybe this assumption is inaccurate.

I also assume that if a creditor company obtains a SSN or a consumer credit report, that there are detailed written policies and procedures about how this information is going to be stored and safeguarded and ultimately destroyed.

In addition, I assume that CMA members understand their legal obligations relating to reporting unauthorized access to this type of information, and that members have budgeted or reserved for [or alternatively purchased some form of insurance to cover] the potentially massive costs associated with a data breach.

What assumptions do you take when asking for SSNs? Or even better, when you’re included as a trade reference, do you provide your personal number to the reporting agent? As always, I welcome your feedback.

Michael C. Dennis is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit, a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. His most recent book, “Happy Customers, Faster Cash,” is available at amazon.com. He can be contacted at 408-204-0129.

Why A/R Analytics Matter, by Mark Wilson

In today’s business world, virtually every department in every company uses analytics to create efficiencies, make better decisions, and improve results. For example, a sales manager is no longer basing the sales team’s success solely on the number of sales made—that person is utilizing technology that looks at a number of metrics beyond those final sales. Why? For multiple reasons. Analytics can provide any business area with information that helps them stay competitive, streamline processes, hold their team accountable, and keep their customers satisfied.

Credit and collections teams should be utilizing this same type of technology to track metrics relating to their business area, however two obstacles often arise: (1) many credit professionals don’t know this technology even exists, and (2) those that do know it exists assume that implementation is an expensive and grueling process that requires a lot of IT support.

So, what if you had an easy way to go beyond DSO and track metrics that will transform your company’s A/R into a strategic and value-driven operation? Would you be interested? What metrics would matter? What if there was a free trial of a software that would let you do this so that you could decide if this was a valuable tool?

My company, TermSync, offers a cost-effective accounts receivable software, that is easy to integrate and use. By offering a program exclusive to CMA members, we’d like to make it even easier for you to track important AR metrics. CMA members can use TermSync for FREE until the end of 2015 if you sign up before September 30.

As a Preferred Partner with NACM National, the TermSync team has come to realize how innovative NACM members are and how much they really care about improving their credit and collection processes, especially those in the CMA chapter.

If you’re interested in learning more, join our free webinar on Thursday, September 10, at 9am PST surrounding The 6 Metrics You Should Be Tracking to Guarantee Success. Register here!

Mark Wilson, a former CFO, is the President of TermSync, a cloud-based accounts receivable software company owned by Esker, Inc. Mark will present this topic at his webinar on September 10. Register here.

What a Collections Professional Should Know Before Picking Up the Phone, by Michael C. Dennis

Debt collections fall broadly into two categories: Consumer collections, and Commercial collections. Consumer collections involve collection activities between a business and a consumer. Consumer collections are highly regulated. These laws are intended to protect consumers from overly aggressive or deceptive practices used against inexperienced and unsophisticated consumers.

Commercial collection deals with debts owed by one business to another. Commercial collection is largely regulated. Why? Because it is assumed that businesses are sophisticated enough to understand their rights when dealing with a creditor.

The laws, rules and regulations governing credit and collection activities change dramatically based on whether the debtor is (a) a consumer or (b) a customer. In my opinion, the collector must have a thorough understanding of the regulations and laws governing debt collection activities before ever picking up the phone.
Are your activities in full compliance with state and local laws? If you sell internationally, are your collection efforts permissible or unlawful in the countries in which your company sells products? Do you know what laws govern your collection activities? I look forward to your comments.

This topic will be covered at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Michael C. Dennis is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. His most recent book, “Happy Customers, Faster Cash,” is available at amazon.com. He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.

When To Place Your Collections With a Third-Party Agency,  By Sam Fensterstock

As a 25-year veteran of the Credit and Collections industry and now with a primary focus in third-party collections, one of the most frequent discussions I have recently had with both collection industry peers, clients and prospects is what is the appropriate third-party collection placement strategy for a B2B company?  What constitutes serious delinquency? How long after invoices go past due has the customer reached the “point of no return” and should be placed with an outside agency?  What is the optimal placement policy that ensures the highest possible recoveries?

In a typical credit and collection department, accounts are considered actionably delinquent somewhere between being 30 to 60 days past the due date. In the real world, if an account is a few days late, often your collectors are not going to hassle the customer too much for fear of upsetting your relationship with them. If you have implemented risk-based collections and are using an order-to-cash workflow solution you probably have strategies designed to auto-treat many of these customers.

However, at 30 days past due your collection strategy probably directs your collectors to call the customer and try to collect the receivable. But, most companies will not start really squeezing their accounts, until they are 45-60 days past due. At that time, depending on the organization of the credit and collection department and their resources, delinquent customers are likely to be turned over to the internal collection team who will begin to initiate recovery procedures.

Now let’s look at this from the viewpoint of a typical internal collector who is responsible for managing an account portfolio, all of which are in various stages of delinquency. The collector’s goal is to collect as much as they can and our experience says that accounts that are most current are the ones most likely to pay and will get the primary focus. As noted above, the older an account gets the lower the probability they are going to pay and as accounts age one of two things is going to happen, either they will eventually pay or they won’t. Accounts that don’t pay, as they age, will continue to become harder to collect and given your current collection environment will these severely delinquent customers continue to get the collection focus they need?

If you look at the percentage of a delinquent portfolio recovered by your collectors as a function of days past due, you will most likely see an extremely skewed distribution. When a delinquent customer is initially turned over to the internal collections team, the recoveries during the period until the accounts are 120 days past due will be material. Perhaps 50% of the initial value will be recovered. But, after 120 days almost nothing additional is likely to be collected. And the main reason for this is that given most companies collection resources, collectors are not actively working the older accounts, but focusing instead, on the more current accounts that are the easiest to collect. This practice means that the un-collected delinquent accounts will continue to age and a drag on your balance sheet.

Given this scenario happens so often, why do so many companies wait until an account is 180 days past due or even older before turning it over to a collection agency? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Take in mind that accounts turned over to a collection agency have first been handled by a company’s collection department usually for at least 90 to 120 days – unsuccessfully. But a good collection agency will eventually recover 30%-50% of those receivable.  Why? Because an agency is an expert in handling these types of accounts and they don’t cherry pick based on age or dollar amount, they work them all. That’s why you can expect the types of recovery % mentioned above even on accounts that have been turned over even at 210 days past due. However, if the accounts are turned over sooner say at 90 to 120 days past due, the collection rate may go even higher.  It a proven industry fact, holding on to delinquent receivables for too long will cost your company money.

As a participant at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, I will address this topic in much more detail. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Sam Fensterstock is senior VP of Business Development for AG Adjustments. He will be participating in a panel discussion on Collections Compliance and Best Practices at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, and can be reached at samf@agaltd.com.

Why It’s Worth Leaving the Office to Attend the CreditScape Fall Summit, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

As we are all busy at our desks this summer with increased sales, dealing with coverage issues due to family summer vacations, etc., let’s take a minute to think about where we are all at with our current positions. Don’t we all want to stay up-to-date with the latest best practices in collections? Or maybe you have a new employee just starting out in credit who needs to learn the collection basics. How about that one person in your department that’s been around for awhile and needs to brush up on their skills. I might suggest that you and your credit team take advantage of attending the CreditScape Fall Summit, hosted by AG Adjustments and Credit Management Association.

This is something new and different this year. Let’s take a look at some of the items that stood out to me:

  • All Levels of Expertise Welcome – Good for beginners to experts in your department.
  • Roundtable Experience – This will not be a classroom setup as usual; it will be a roundtable interactive workshop (with limited participants) so you all can look each other in the eye and share valuable insights.
  • Focusing on Collections – This Summit will be all about collections. techniques, third-party processes, best practices, fraud prevention, collection results, strategies, international collections to name a few.
  • Convenient Location – This will be at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas, well priced to save on flight and hotel costs.

The event information is as follows:

Date: September 17-18 2015 (from 10:30 am Thursday through 2:00 pm Friday afternoon)…Location: Tropicana Hotel 3801 South Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas NV 89109 (discount rates available)…Cost: $495 for CMA members and $595 for non-members… To register go to www.creditscapeconference.com

We all know how it is important to stay up-to-date with our education. And finding the time to go to these events can be hard too. Invest in your team, and challenge them to improve and grow. This program will be packed with information and has many excellent speakers too. I would highly recommend it.

Please take a few minutes to read through the program highlights to answer all of your questions.

Make sure you encourage your teams, support CMA your association, and network with old friends and make some new ones too. Team up with your colleagues and learn together. Then bring back your experiences to incorporate into your jobs. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Michael W. Fenner, CBA, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

The Advantages (and Disadvantages) of Accepting Credit Card Payments, by Scott Blakeley, Esq.

Customers in the B2B space are increasingly using credit cards to pay supplier invoices. The upside for the cardholder and paying customer is the 30 extra days to pay the cardholder statement that includes the supplier’s invoice. Cards also reduce paperwork and allow the customer to eliminate the time and cost of processing A/P checks. The upside for suppliers is that payment by credit card means near immediate remittance, reduced credit approval and collection activities, reduced credit and bankruptcy risk, and new sales channels (attracting customers who otherwise may not qualify for terms). Further, by accepting cards only when the order is placed, the supplier also enjoys increased cash flow, improved DSO and reduced A/R.

Still, there are complications involved with accepting credit cards in the B2B space. One area where suppliers may have particular legal questions surrounding their policy concerning credit cards is in collections, particularly in suppliers using credit cards as a collection strategy on past-due accounts.

As a speaker at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit in Las Vegas, I will address the use of credit cards as a supplier collection strategy in scenarios where the customer has failed to pay. I will cover the rules of the supplier accepting credit card payments on past due invoices from a customer who cannot pay. The discussion will also include the possibility of a surcharge rollout, and the legal issues associated with surcharging the credit card using customer, including how handle the 2-4% interchange fee that credit card companies charge their customers.

Join me as we cover this topic in much more detail at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.
Scott Blakeley, Esq., is founder of Blakeley LLP, where he advises companies around the United States and Canada regarding creditors’ rights, commercial law, e-commerce and bankruptcy law. He will be speaking at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, and can be reached at seb@blakeleyllp.com.

To Cash or Not to Cash? How to Handle “Payment-in-Full” Checks, by Christopher Eric Ng, Esq.

What should you do when you receive a check from a customer for an amount less than your total claim, but the check is marked with a “payment in full” or similar restrictive notation? Should you return the check to the debtor? Or can you simply cross out the “payment in full” language, deposit the check and pursue the unpaid balance? And what if you use a lockbox to handle the numerous checks you receive and those checks are deposited before you see them?

The answer to this question depends on what state law applies to your customer’s account. In the vast majority of states, if you are not willing to accept the amount of a “payment in full” check, the only safe action is to return the unnegotiated check. If you have accidentally negotiated a restricted check, many state laws give you a period of time (e.g., 90 days) to return the funds to the debtor to avoid an “accord and satisfaction” (the acceptance of a certain sum as payment for the entire disputed amount) of the claim. Finally, even if you have negotiated a “payment in full” check, you may be able to avoid waiving your right to pursue the balance if the debt was undisputed, or if the debtor did not act in good faith.

Creditors that want to expansively address the problem of inadvertently accepting “payments in full,” resulting in an unintended accord and satisfaction, can create and conspicuously designate a “debt dispute office” in credit agreements and invoices to customers. If such a debt dispute office procedure is appropriately implemented, an accord and satisfaction will not be established unless a person who is charged with the responsibility of dealing with such issues makes a knowing, affirmative decision to accept the partial payment. If such a procedure is not established, creditors should implement an alternative process to identify all partial payments made by a customer that could result in an inadvertent accord and satisfaction within 90 days from the date payment is received.

It goes without saying that it is imperative that you understand the applicable state law, consider including a favorable governing law provision in your credit and sales agreements and consult with an experienced commercial attorney regarding your particular situation. If this topic has piqued your interest and you want more information, please read Christopher Ng’s complete LinkedIn blog post at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cash-cashhow-handle-payment-full-check-christopher-ng?

Join me as we cover this topic in much more detail at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Christopher Eric Ng, Esq. is a Partner of Gibbs Giden, Los Angeles, CA, and will be speaking at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit. He can be reached at cng@gibbsgiden.com.

International Business — How Understanding Culture Will Help You Get Paid, by Eddy Sumar

When someone signs a contract to do business with your company, you allow them to do so with the expectation that they will pay you. In the U.S., there are laws that help protect your assets to ensure that the contract is enforceable, but what happens when you’re dealing with foreign nations? Are there resources (like the government) that can help when your customer doesn’t pay?

In this global economy, there are ingredients to succeeding in getting paid internationally. One of the key factors that I always recommend to my clients is to make sure you understand the culture of any company you’re selling to overseas. For instance, there are many cultures that have a strong family element to them. In some of those cultures, it is probable that the person who answers the phone is a daughter/son/spouse of the company owner. If that person has a negative experience with you (even if it’s perceived), you may never get to talk to the owner to enforce your contract and get paid.

There are plenty of other resources that can help as well. Join me as we cover this topic in detail at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Eddy A. Sumar is the President & Founder of ERS Consulting Services. He is also the director of education and community outreach for CMA, and will be speaking at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit. He can be reached at 909-481-9869 or ealberto@aol.com.

Can Anyone’s Signature Make a Credit Application Enforceable?, by Michael C. Dennis

Can anyone sign a contract? Most people agree the answer to this question is No. For example, most people acknowledge that a Minor [someone under 18] cannot sign a valid, enforceable contract. So… who can sign a valid, enforceable contract on behalf of a customer? More specifically, who can sign a valid credit application on behalf of a business?

There are several requirements for creating a valid legal contract. One of the most important to credit professionals involves the idea of contractual authority. To be enforceable, the person signing the credit application must have authority to do so. What constitutes authority to do so? This question can be answered this way: Credit professionals often need to rely on the concept of ‘apparent authority.’ Why? Because creditors don’t know who has actual authority to sign the credit application on behalf of the applicant.

The intent of the legal concept of apparent authority is to protect third parties [such as creditors] who might otherwise incur losses if the signature received did not bind the debtor company. Basically, apparent authority means this: If a reasonable person [such as a creditor] believes the person signing the contract has the authority to do so, that signature is binding on the applicant company.

So, what do I look for? I look for the title of the person signing the application. I expect to see that an Officer or a business owner has signed the credit agreement. Do you agree? Do you disagree? I think this is worth discussing this with your attorney.

This topic will be covered at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas when I moderate the panel discussion on collection compliance and best practices. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Michael C. Dennis is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals. He is a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events. His most recent book, “Happy Customers, Faster Cash,” is available at amazon.com. He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.

 

Discussions You’ll Have at the CreditScape Fall Summit, by Mike Mitchell

At CMA, we are so excited about the CreditScape program we’ve got planned for you, we wanted to give everyone a sneak peak at what you’ll be talking about. All next week, CMA will publish a series of briefs from thought leaders who will be featured at the Summit — Chris Rios, Bart Frankel, Scott Blakeley, Chris Ng, Eddy Sumar, Michael Dennis, and more.

When I spoke with Chris Rios, Director of Finance Operations for Dun & Bradstreet, about the whole collections process, he spoke about the importance of treating collections like sales, because you are “selling” customers on why they should pay their bills. The key to success is building and maintaining good relationships with your customers. He also stresses the importance of being “forward looking” and strategic in your approach to collections – using data and analytics to drive collection effectiveness.

Bart Frankel has been a member favorite with his “Phone Power” Collection Webinars over the years, and we’ve asked him to share the collection techniques he developed for the $7 Billion Order-to-Cash process for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies. Bart will be the first to tell you that collections starts with the sales call and he stresses the importance of getting the upfront process right the first time so you don’t have so many issues on the back end.

What if you are exporting and trying to collect from customers in foreign countries? Eddy Sumar, CCE, CICE, has plenty to share about his experiences collecting money from all over the globe, and he’ll be the first to tell you, collections starts with an understanding of the 6th C of Credit — Culture.

Join us next week in hearing from these, and our other thought leaders, who will be driving the workshops and discussions that you care about at CreditScape. You can read their contributions on our blog page.

It’s Almost Time for the EMV Liability Shift, Changing the Way Businesses Accept Card Payments

by Matt Fluegge, Vantiv

You may have heard there’s a change coming to the way many businesses accept card payments. The U.S. is in the process of transitioning away from the magnetic stripe cards we’re all familiar with, and moving toward installing small microchips into the cards – also known as chip-and-sign. If you’ve already upgraded your terminals or Point of Sale System to accept these new cards, which are inserted into a slot and not swiped, then you’re ahead of the game. If not or if you’ve never heard about this switch, then you’re not alone – but time is winding down.

It’s called EMV, short for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, the three companies that created the standard. It’s the system the majority of the world uses at their point-of-sale terminals. Chip-enabled credit and debit cards are more secure, by electronically storing data so it’s harder for criminals to steal the payment information and create fraudulent cards. So why the change? For starters, nearly half of all the credit card fraud worldwide occurs in the U.S., even though America accounts for only a quarter of the global card volume. As for why should you make the upgrade, other than helping to ensure that your loyal customer’s financial information is more secure, there’s a legal initiative as well.

Come October 1, 2015, liability for fraudulent transactions will shift to whichever party – the card issuer or the merchant – hasn’t made the switch to EMV. So if your company isn’t accepting EMV payments, your organization will be responsible for the fallout from any fraudulent transactions processed there. The liability shift applies to face-to-face payments and not Card Not Present payments.

There are a few factors to consider and several things for employees to familiarize themselves with before making the move to EMV, as the new terminals are likely to support a broad range of payment methods. This includes contactless EMV, such as a contactless credit card, and NFC mobile applications like Apple Pay and Android Pay. Knowing the difference and how they operate will help answer questions from customers and speed up transactions.

One way to be prepared is to talk to a payments provider about your questions and to discuss your options. Vantiv is an excellent resource to learn more about the liability shift and payment processing solutions tailored to the needs of NACM Members. Vantiv and United TranzActions have been the NACM Affiliates’ endorsed payment processing providers for over 16 years. Contact me at matt.fluegge@vantiv.com for answers to your EMV questions or for help moving to EMV and chip-enabled payments.

 

Matt Fluegge is the Manager of the NACM Credit Card Acceptance Program at Vantiv. He can be reached at matt.fluegge@vantiv.com or 608-834-2539.

Full Schedule Announced for 2015 Fall CreditScape Summit

The CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18, 2015 at Tropicana Las Vegas, offers a 360-degree look into the entire collections process, focusing on best practices and real-world case studies with the best and brightest practitioners in credit and collections.

Here are some highlights of the sessions and workshops at the Summit. The full schedule, along with descriptions, is posted at www.creditscapeconference.com

  • Phone Power: 6 Steps to Collection Success (Speaker: Bart Frankel).
  • Using Credit Cards for Collection Strategy (Speaker: Scott Blakeley, Esq.)
  • Hire and Retain the Best Collectors (Speakers: Bob Daniel, Professional Recruiter, and Joe Lucas, VP & Chief Credit Officer, SRS Distribution)
  • Effective Collection Communication Strategies
  • Leverage Automation for Better Collection Results
  • The “Collection Prevention” Department
  • Collection Compliance & Best Practices
  • Developing a Third-Party Collection Process
  • Advanced Collection Techniques
  • International Collections
  • …and more!

If you’re serious about evaluating the collections processes at your company, or learning the latest best practices in collections techniques, then you must attend this event.

Learn more at http://www.creditscapeconference.com

 

Collections in the Digital Age: Technology, Outsourcing, and Compliance, by Eddy Sumar

‘Collections,’ ‘collectors,’ ‘collection agencies,’ ‘collection attorneys’: words that evoke strong emotions, sometimes even terror, in the hearts of uninformed debtors. Robocalls, automatic dialers, dialing for money, calling centers, SMS, texting, e-mailing, invoicing, phone calls, and personal visits—some of the avenues that companies pursue to collect their precious asset known as accounts receivable. When we look at the landscape of debt collection, we can see three things that beckon our attention: technology, outsourcing, and compliance.

These three areas have a great impact on people on all sides, creditors, intermediaries or third parties, and debtors. Let us look at each of these three areas separately.

Technology: Technology is a blessing, but it has side effects. When technology is employed, people lose their jobs. Technology leads to higher productivity at the beginning of the process, but it has long-term negative consequences. Digital technology, machines and robocalls do not satisfy the desires for human interaction. The fact is that technology should enhance the human factor, not diminish it. Technology should help us humans to produce more so we can have more time to interact and build the goodwill and loyalty. So the short-term need is to curb the negative effects of the technological factor in collection.

Outsourcing: Another factor that complicates collection is the outsourcing of debt collection to companies that do not understand the power of customer service and preserving customer and debtor goodwill. The calling-center mentality in collections is unempowered. It follows a certain script and cannot deviate from it. This railroad track mentality usually leads to derailment. The short-term benefits to the bottom-line will ultimately lead to long-term consequences that both eat the top-line and erode the bottom-line.

Compliance: As highlighted in the recent reports from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), consumers are being hounded by unethical collectors and unscrupulous collection agencies. These dial for money at all cost, intimidating the debtors with lawsuits and other methods that convey the thought of threatening their livelihood and dignity. To them, it is the money that counts, not the individual. To them, the debtor is totally at fault and they approach the debtor in a manner not fit for human dignity. The result is that the reputation of collectors and the agencies they work for are negatively affected. They become something to fear and avoid. The good news is: the collection industry is still filled with good law-abiding collectors. But unfortunately, it’s the bad apple that corrupts the whole bunch; the little poison that makes the refreshing glass of water on a sweltering day undrinkable. With technology the offense could easily be amplified. Bad collectors tend to hide behind their technological gadgets and screens, thinking that they can never be found in cyberspace. This new digital landscape allows bad collectors to abuse debtors, hurling at them every insult, thinking that the path of offense leads to collection success.

All of the above issues highlight the significance of compliance, which is compliance with existing codes and regulations, but above all compliance with the codes of human decency.

So, how can a company thrive in an environment of constant technological change? How can a company outsource its collection function without affecting the long-term profitability? How can a company be compliant?

The answers lie in a simple acronym: COLLECTOR.

The word ‘COLLECTOR’ embodies certain key qualities that need to be present whether a company pursues internal or external collection. If these qualities are pursued, then compliance issues will disappear. And if a company outsources to a third party to pursue its collection function, then the third party should have strong ethical standards that highlight the human factor. Here is the acronym:

C: Compassion, Connection, Communication, Courtesy, Customer-centric, Common sense

O: Options, Overcoming obstacles, Open-minded

L: Listen! Listen! Listen!

L: Learn! Legally-minded

E: Empathy, Education, Experience, Expertise, Excellence

C: Collaboration, Cooperation, Compliance

T: Teamwork, Targets, Timelines

O: Organization

R: Respect, Resolution, Results, Regulation

The above acronym highlights the human dimension of collection, not the technological and digital. It starts with the ‘C’ of compassion. Yes, collectors should show compassion to the debtor, especially in consumer transactions. Collectors need to connect in order to collect. Making that connection by building rapport is vital. Two-way open communication hallmarked by courtesy is paramount. Furthermore, a customer-centric approach is crucial in every collection call. I believe that collectors should always put on the customer service hat when they engage in collecting a debt. Simply put, it is common sense that should rule in collection.

Next, we see the ‘O,’ that opens the doors to options and alternatives. Collection is not a black and white approach. It should not be either / or. Collectors should work with the debtors to find the options and overcome the obstacles. Collectors should be open-minded throughout the collection process.

The first ‘L’ underlines the significance of listening. The key function for a collector should be to listen—listen to the debtor, listen to the debtor, listen to the debtor, listen to common sense. It is through listening that collectors move to the second ‘L.’

The second ‘L’ is a natural by-product of listening. When collectors listen, they learn, they go beneath the surface to see the unseen and the hidden. When they listen, they find the options that are practical and relevant. And yes, collectors should be legally-minded. They need to know the law, abide by the law and respect the law. Listening leads to the next letter ‘E.’

The ‘E’ reminds us of empathy. And empathy will make the collector’s job more exciting. Empathy humanizes the process; it allows the collector to walk in the debtor’s shoes—to feel, see, and experience the world from the debtor’s perspective and through the debtor’s eyes. Empathy leads to education that equips the collector with the experience that builds the expertise needed to show excellence in handling the collection process.

The next letter ‘C’ puts the spotlight on collaboration and cooperation. I read a quote that says: “If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative.” So, for collectors to be better, to feel better, and for debtors to be better and feel better, they all need to cooperate and collaborate. Collaboration that reflects all of the previous ingredients will lead to compliance. Ethical and moral collectors that embody humanity and exercise their function with integrity and dignity cannot help but be compliant.

Now, the ‘T’ introduces teamwork that adds the flavor of joint effort and togetherness. When teams come together, they have a goal, a target to achieve. And with targets comes timelines. Thus, the collection process has an objective to collect in a timely manner to ensure the timely cashflow of the creditor while helping the debtor to be released on a timely manner from the burden of debt.

For collectors to really be successful they need the ‘O’ of organization. Organization allows the collector to handle the workflow with ease and proficiency. Organization allows the collector to become efficient and effective.

The final letter ‘R’ reiterates the importance of the human factor. Respect is a human need and collectors should show it at every step in the collection process. In addition to respect, collectors should never forget that collection is about resolution, resolving the issues, dissolving impasses and finding the options that lead to results. All should be done with dignity and decency under the vigilant eye of the law and regulations.

Just imagine collectors who exemplify the above! Collections, collectors will become words that elicit admiration and appreciation.

The human approach in collections will yield greater results than the hard-nosed and hardliner approach. Good, ethical, and law-abiding collectors are guides. They guide their debtors through the collection process leading them to win-win solutions. They steer them in the direction of resolution keeping the goals in sight, while showing understanding and empathy, maintaining initiative, and demonstrating high integrity and strong discipline. They allow themselves to be educated by the process and by the debtor in order to reach the destination without victims and injury.

From the above, we can see that collection is a multi-disciplinary process combining among many things a human approach that reflects knowledge of psychology, anthropology, sociology, negotiation, time management, organizational techniques and a host of functional skills needed in the collection field. To collect is not just about the moment, it is about the future. Though the digital age is here collection will always be a human function.
Eddy A. Sumar is the President & Founder of ERS Consulting Services. He is also the director of education and community outreach for CMA, and will be speaking at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit. He can be reached at 909-481-9869 or ealberto@aol.com. 

The Power of Friendliness in Business Communication

By Marcel Wiedenbrugge

It must have been about 13 years ago that I was spending a long weekend with my scuba diving buddies. I remember one evening, I had a discussion about the stupidity of many people working in customer service and how they annoyed me. “Every time I explain something to them, it seems as if they do not want to understand what the issue is…it drives me crazy, etc, etc”.

While I was ranting, one of my friends interrupted my heated monologue and said: “I don’t agree with your approach.” His comment triggered my curiosity, so I asked him: “What approach would you suggest then?”

So he told his story that he worked as a project engineer in the chemical industry, when he was responsible for the construction of large chemical plants. Part of his responsibilities involved managing foreign personnel. Unfortunately, his instructions were apparently not always thoroughly understood. That led to mistakes, and to co-workers who seemed quite consistently not willing to learn from their mistakes. This annoyed him so much that it started to impact his mood and health.

One day he told his wife about it and they started to think and talk how he could solve this problem. He told me that took him three months to come up with an answer. By now, I was really drawn into this story, so I asked: “Well, what was your solution?” His answer was: “Friendliness.”

He continued: “From that moment on, I decided to apply friendliness in every situation I encounter in both my professional and private life. The results where astonishing. Not only did I achieve much better results, but this had a great positive impact on my mood, and my health. Even better, I have found that people almost in any situation are willing to walk the extra mile to help me.”

I was amazed by his story. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend. Somehow, it all made sense. So I said to myself: “Let’s give ‘friendliness’ a try for one week. If it works, I will continue to use it.”

After one week, I was amazed by the results of being consistently friendly. Both colleagues and customers were much more willing to collaborate. Calls did not escalate, and my mood was improving as well. From that moment, I decided to use friendliness as a default professional approach and I have never regretted doing so.

As an author of the book “Happy Customers Faster Cash,” friendliness is one of the 33 suggestions we offer, so I’d like to quote from it:
“Once you choose to make friendliness your default attitude, in daily practice you will notice that friendliness:

  • is actually the best ‘weapon ‘ to win almost any argument
  • is by far the best attitude to keep and maintain good customer relationships
  • will help you to feel better about yourself, your work and doing so will keep you more in control in almost any situation
  • will contribute to a good working environment with your colleagues and being friendly isn’t hard to learn to do, although it should be a part of you or your character and come from within. Friendliness can’t be faked and if you do try to ‘fake it’ people will notice.

We can conclude that friendliness as a default attitude benefits you as a person, your team, your performance, your customers and your organization.”

As the saying goes, the best advice is for free. Usually that is not the case, but here I would definitely recommend all of you with “frustration/anger” issues, to try consistent friendliness just for one week. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Marcel is the co-author of “Happy Customers, Faster Cash” USA Edition, available at amazon.com.

Why Out-of-Court Insolvency Pays Off, by Molly Froschauer

When facing a company showing signs of distress, we often hear credit managers afraid of the “big B,” bankruptcy. Well, while closing the doors of a company is never a pleasant thing, there might be another way to shut down without the many legal pitfalls for creditors in bankruptcy. The legal world fully embraces any sort of out-of-court resolution, with mediation and arbitration being considered preferable to courtroom solutions. In the business world, contracts often have an arbitration decision or disputes are resolved in mediation. Employing any alternative dispute resolution has many advantages, and mirror those provided by the business insolvency services at CMA.

Handling issues out of court is less expensive, less time-consuming, and considerably more private. The same can be said about the assignment (“ABC”) process, but ABCs are still a relatively little-known alternative to business bankruptcies. Normally, a business that has decided to close its doors would consult with an attorney to either wind down operations with legal advice from corporate counsel, or, it would file a Chapter 7.

The decision to file the Chapter 7 is complicated and should be taken with care and advice of counsel. However, if attaining finality for the closure of the business is the goal, an out-of-court option is available. Assignments for the benefit of creditors have all of the same advantages of alternative dispute resolution but in a bankruptcy context. For example, instead of obtaining judge approval to dispose of assets, CMA, as assignee can handle immediately. Also, as actions are not handled on a public docket, it’s a less visible process. As assignment can be done very quickly as well, creating a feeling of closure for everyone involved.

Alternatives to bankruptcy offer the same benefits as those in litigation and should be an important part of the legal landscape in the future. It’s important, when winding down, to know all options. Every situation is treated differently and the team at CMA can be very flexible with the specifics of any business. The easiest way to determine whether the alternatives discussed here are right for you is to call CMA. We appreciate the uniqueness of each business and are happy to discuss the particularities in detail.

Molly Froschauer is CMA’s Insolvency Services Manager. A bankruptcy attorney licensed to practice in California, she can be reached at 818-972-5315.

Dun & Bradstreet Announces New Brand Modernization

DB_WORDMARK_Pantone

Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE: DNB) recently unveiled a new brand purpose, values, tagline and logo as part of a major brand modernization effort. The company’s new creative expression and tenets are rooted in a data inspired, relationship-driven approach, bolstered by the new tagline: “Growing relationships through data.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a yearlong activation of Dun & Bradstreet’s new growth strategy, which has included both internal and external investments across the business, and a revitalization of the company’s global culture. Dun & Bradstreet has made a number of strategic acquisitions to expand capabilities, and formed alliances and partnerships to more simply and efficiently deliver key data, insights and analytics to customers.

“Data is the key driver of innovation in today’s business environment, and we have continued to invest in this differentiating asset. But decisions, inventions and investments are made by humans, and we help customers make sense of the massive amounts of data they have to connect them with the people, ideas and opportunities that matter,” said Bob Carrigan, chief executive officer & president, Dun & Bradstreet.

CEO Bob Carrigan joined Dun & Bradstreet in October 2013 with a vision to build long-term sustainable growth and modernize all aspects of the company. Carrigan, with support from the executive leadership team, is leading that vision with a far-reaching brand modernization that will be implemented within Dun & Bradstreet’s products and solutions, content delivery, go-to-market strategy, internal employee programs and all external positioning.

For more information about Dun and Bradstreet’s products, contact Terry Campos at 818-972-5361 or tcampos@emailcma.org.

Do You Know of a Company On the Verge of Bankruptcy?

Working in conjunction with the business and its creditors, CMA Business Credit Services provides a struggling business with the opportunity to re-establish its financial credibility through time and planning, or to assist in ceasing its existence while minimizing losses to its creditors. As an efficient bankruptcy alternative, CMA provides all of the services necessary to wind down operations of a distressed business while avoiding both the administrative expense and paperwork associated with bankruptcy court. These alternatives are often less cumbersome for all involved and are less expensive, which means more return to creditors and more money left in the business to regain its footing.

If you know of a struggling company looking for bankruptcy alternatives refer them to:

Molly Froschauer, CMA Adjustment Bureau
Expertise in: Bankruptcy, Preferences, Reclamation, Proof of Claims, Creditor Committee, Chapter 7, Chapter  11,  Bankruptcy Alternatives
Phone: 800-541-2622

You May Not Know, CMA Has a Solution For That

CMA Has Solutions

Recently, a friend of mine told me that he joined a well-known national association. When I asked him why he joined, he told me he was really only interested in one of the benefits they offered, and that he would probably never explore the other benefits because that one thing was valuable enough to him to justify membership.

After having this discussion with him, I realized that some CMA members may think the same about its programs and services: they join for the Industry Credit Groups but are unaware about (and don’t explore) the other benefits that can help manage risk. Here is a quick look at some additional benefits that you may not know about that are included with your membership:

Credit Reporting: CMA is a reseller of reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, DNB, Experian), NACM, plus the hybrid anscersX multibureau report. Let CMA be your first call when you’re looking for customer information; report rates through CMA are often less expensive. Plus, members receive several free reports from NACM, which is included with their annual membership.

RFIs: CMA offers the ability to submit an RFI (Request For Information) on specific accounts from other members who may have experience with those accounts. The system is fully automated and available online in an as-needed basis.

Professional Development Programs: CMA offers dozens of webinars, seminars, in-person networking opportunities and more to help you stay current in the quick-evolving credit management profession.

Construction Forms Filing: If your company has the need to file preliminary notices and mechanics liens in the United States and Guam, our staff offers everything you need, including a free lien provisions guide.

Business Insolvency Services: What options do you have if one of your customers threatens to file for bankruptcy? What if your company suddenly faces financial distress? CMA’s Adjustment Bureau is the largest entity in the United States specializing in neutral administration of out-of-court workouts and liquidations of insolvent businesses.

– Collections Services: CMA has partnered with AG Adjustments to handle all of your collections needs. All placements can be viewed on CMA’s interactive web site, www.anscers.com.

– Transactions processing: If your company offers Electronic Funds Transfer, Online Bill Pay, Credit Card Services , Fifth-Third Check Guarantee Services can probably help you get a better rate than you’re already receiving.

– And more!

With many benefits that you may not have already been aware of, if you’re in the credit management profession (or if you may need help with determining the riskiness of a potential customer), CMA should be your first call at 800-541-2622. CMA is known for its top-notch industry credit groups, but the association offers many more benefits besides them. CMA probably already has a program or service that can provide information to help answer your credit questions.

What is your biggest need in credit management today? I welcome your feedback.

Apple Pay And Its Implications As A Payment Channel For Customers To Pay Vendors’ Invoices In The B2B Space, By Scott Blakeley, Esq.

Scott Blakeley, esq.

By Scott Blakeley, Esq.
Blakeley & Blakeley, LLP

Apple has made a media splash with its announcement of Apple Pay, the latest foray of a tech company entering the mobile card payment space. While the B2B space has been slow to embrace electronic payment channel alternatives, especially those designed for smart phones and tablets, these alternatives are thriving in the B2C space. In another article “Payment Channel Alternative (Traditional and Emerging) For The Customer (And The Credit Team’s Preferences),” Lyle Wallis (VP Research, CRF) and I considered the topic of mobile payments. Apple Pay advances this payment form. But does Apple Pay provide insight for the credit team in the B2B space of what the payment channel may look like in the near future?

The Mobile Wallet: A B2B Payment Channel in the Near Term?

Electronic payments, especially in mobile form, are showing to be a most efficient and cost effective payment channel. Banks have invested in mobile options, which allow consumers to deposit checks, view balances and make transfers between accounts, all from their smart phone or tablet. Javelin Strategy and Research estimates that the average cost for a mobile banking transaction (deposit or transfer) is 50% cheaper than a desktop computer transaction and 90% cheaper than an ATM transaction. It costs J.P. Morgan Chase $0.03 to process a customer’s mobile check deposit, versus $0.65 where the customer physically deposits a paper check.

The mobile wallet has arrived. A mobile wallet can be peer-to-peer, consumer-to-business, or both. To use a mobile wallet, the consumer registers a new account with a provider and then connects that mobile wallet to their existing debit card and bank account. Once money is loaded onto the digital wallet, it can be sent to other peers and/or businesses also on the mobile wallet network. Then, should they desire, the consumer may “cash out” all or a certain percentage of their mobile wallet, and the funds are automatically routed back to the original bank account.

Consumers may choose a variety of mobile wallets: Google, Amazon, PayPal, Square, Venmo, and now Apple. Apple announced that its new iPhone 6 and digital watch give users the ability to pay for products and services just by tapping the device to payment terminals using Apple Pay. The service is a take-off of the Google Wallet, which has been available on Android phones since 2011. The mobile payment system uses a technology known as Near Filed Communication (NFC), which transmits a radio signal between the device (smartphone in this instance) and a receiver, when the two are fractions of an inch apart or touching.

Apple Pay, Data Breach and Card Security: Applications to the B2B Space?

The headlines regarding the Home Depot, Target Stores and Neiman Marcus data breaches have affected hundreds of millions of their customers. Vendors rolling out card payment programs in the B2B space are reminded to consider a cardholder’s privacy rights when they store the cardholder’s card information electronically. Apple recognizes the significance of cardholder privacy and intends to distinguish itself through greater card security. Major payment networks and banks have all been working on a system that allows customers to make a payment without handing over any personal details, using a kind of digital token that can be used only once. Apple Pay is the first program to use the tokenization system on a widespread basis. With each Apple Pay transaction, a user’s credit card number won’t pass through the system, just a scrambled, one-time code that can’t be used in any future transaction.

If a retailer’s systems are hacked, Apple Pay customers’ personal information is not compromised. The service also requires a thumbprint scan for each transaction, meaning that only the phone’s owner can use it to make purchases–a stolen smartphone cannot be used for fraudulent purchases. The devices’ operating software iOS 8 will also encrypt more of the user’s personal data (photos, messages, email, contacts, call history, iTunes content), where previous versions of iOS only encrypted a device’s email. These added security features are important and one of the reasons that Apple Pay has won over credit card companies and retailers. The iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch will use Apple Pay at merchant locations that have purchased the hardware that can read the wireless signal from Apple’s devices. Because merchants are already under pressure to upgrade their POS systems to accept EMV, a new card technology to reduce fraud, there is thus greater opportunity to add-on the NFC technology at the same time. Upgrades to POS systems have been mandated by the credit card companies and must be in place by late 2015 else the merchant will be liable for fraudulent credit card use.

Both Visa and MasterCard are on board with Apple Pay, and Apple is not charging them for allowing their products on Apple phones. Banks have agreed to accept lower fees from Apple than what they usually accept on credit card transactions, with their hope that cardholders will opt to use the technology in place of cash and other payment methods, thereby driving up the total number of transactions. Safer credit card transactions will lower the instance of fraud and thereby reduce card fees for everyone.

Apple Pay and B2B Implications

Can mobile solutions accommodate transactions in the B2B space? Mobile payment technologies have focused on the consumer sector. However, given the push for electronic payment alternatives in the B2B space, developers are pursuing B2B mobile payment technologies. Will businesses move to this payment channel, given the transactional efficiency and low processing costs of mobile payments? According to the AFP, only 11% of US companies surveyed are using mobile payment technologies.

Apple Pay is presently geared toward brick and mortar stores. Online application for card-not-present transactions is a key for the B2B space. The single use nature of Apple Pay technology (digital token) rules out use for multiple transactions (the credit team storing a card on file).

Applications will be developed that provide for Apple Pay technology to be used to pay vendor invoices in the near term.

 

Scott Blakeley, Esq., is a founder of Blakeley & Blakeley LLP, where he advises companies around the United States and Canada regarding creditors’ rights, commercial law, e-commerce and bankruptcy law. He can be reached at his email address.

President’s Post: Trends in Credit Management, by Mike Mitchell

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

Happy New Year!

With gas prices down and holiday sales up over last year, 2015 has already been off to a great start.

At CMA, we are working on exciting new initiatives that will make it an even happier 2015. I recently attended a credit reporting summit hosted by one of CMA’s partners, Experian, and heard about 11 trends in credit management that the Credit Research Foundation has identified for 2015.

• Cash Flow – Cash is King
• Integration with ERP/CRM Platforms
• Credit Cards
• Shared Services Environments
• Credit Scoring/Portfolio Management
• Risk-Based Collection Activity
• Reporting – Business Intelligence
• Blended Scores and the FCRA Hurdle
• Sales/Credit Partnership
• Supplier Credit Evaluations
• Emerging global markets

In order to best meet the needs of the credit managers, CMA is offering programs to address several of these trends.

Sales/Credit Partnership – Gear Up for Profit: Linking Sales and Credit Cycles to Grow Profit

CMA is offering a first-of-its-kind workshop that addresses the challenging dynamic between Credit and Sales, for the first time inviting leaders from the Credit and Sales teams to participate in this ground-breaking approach to exploring how the Credit and Sales teams can work together for better profitability.

Supplier Credit Evaluations – Supplier Risk Credit Group

CMA is launching a new credit group that will focus exclusively on evaluating Supplier Credit Risk. We see an emerging trend in companies tasking the credit department with evaluating the risk and cost of business disruption caused by the failure of key suppliers. CMA plans to support this new functional competency by creating a special credit group that focuses on expanding the credit department’s risk management role to include key suppliers as well as key customers. CMA invites you to attend a complimentary organizational meeting to explore and finalize the benefits and features of a Supplier Risk Credit Group – January 28, 2015, 10:00 am – Noon. Email Larry Convoy for details at lconvoy@emailcma.org.

Emerging global markets – The Global Trade Credit Consortium

CMA is building a unique network of top resource providers for international trade and credit practices, with the goal of helping companies sell internationally by making critical trade and credit resources more accessible, responsive, and accountable. International credit consultant and co-founder Eddy Sumar, MBA, CCE, CICP will leverage the Global Trade Credit Consortium to provide professional guidance to help navigate the complex process of exporting. For more information, visit the GTCC website at http://www.globalcreditconsortium.com.

Which trends are you most concerned with in your business for 2015? I’d love to get your feedback on how CMA can deliver services that will make 2015 the best year yet!

Supplier Risk Credit Group created to help manage your vendors, by Larry Convoy

During my time in credit management, I’ve often heard the following: “We can survive if a customer goes bad, we cannot survive if one of our primary or secondary vendors has an interruption in delivering product, raw materials or services to us. For that reason, we invest an equal amount of resources investigating our vendors.”

CMA Industry Group Leader Larry Convoy
CMA Industry Group Leader Larry Convoy

Responding to members requests, CMA is establishing the SUPPLIER RISK CREDIT GROUP for companies that have expanded the credit departments’ risk management role to include key suppliers. There has been a tremendous increase in companies evaluating the risk and cost of business disruption when vendors are unable to deliver goods for reasons ranging from economic to political.  Credit Managers deal in risk evaluation daily, they have the skill set necessary to transition from customer analysis to vendor.

This new group will help companies assess their exposure to vendor failure, develop, implement and maintain a process to evaluate risk and gather business intelligence more efficiently and cost effectively.

CMA invites you to attend a complimentary organizational meeting to explore the benefits and features of a Supplier Risk Credit Group.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 from 10am-noon

In-Person: Nestle USA headquarters, Glendale CA, or via Web-conference (must have web cam and speakers)

RSVP to lconvoy@emailcma.org and we’ll save a seat — either virtually or in-person — for you.

We hope to see you there!

Offshore Suppliers Beware of the Insolvent U.S. Customer and the Terms of Sale: What the World Imports Bankruptcy Case Teaches the Credit Team, by Scott Blakeley, Esq.

Scott Blakeley, esq.

The global supply chain is an often written topic in the press. Recent public company chapter 11 filings (usually Delaware or the Southern District of New York) highlight the global network of suppliers reflected in debtors’ lists of 20 or 30 largest unsecured creditors. This list often consists of offshore creditors from around the globe, whether Asia, Europe or South America.

Offshore suppliers who ship goods to the U.S. on credit should be wary of insolvent, or potentially insolvent, customers. Although U.S. Bankruptcy Code section §503(b)(9) provides that suppliers of goods are entitled to an administrative expense claim for the invoice value of the goods received by the customer within 20 days prior to their filing, an issue arises as to when the goods are received.

For many offshore suppliers, it is advantageous to ship goods to a U.S. customer “Free on Board port of origin” (“FOB”) as it places risk of loss during transportation on the customer. However, shipping goods FOB would also mean that the goods are technically received by the customer on the date of shipment. For many offshore shipments, this would mean that the shipment may have been received prior to the 20 day period of the customer’s bankruptcy filing, even if the goods were actually in the customer’s possession within the 20 day period.

The recent decision in In re World Imports, Ltd2, however, takes the §503(b)(9) priority claim protection away from the offshore supplier. There, the Bankruptcy Court held that an offshore supplier who provided goods to a U.S. debtor within 20 days of the bankruptcy was not entitled to a priority claim under Bankruptcy Code §503(b)(9) because the goods were “received by the debtor” at the time they were placed on the vessel at the port overseas more than 20 days before the debtor’s bankruptcy filing, even though the debtor took physical possession of the goods within the 20 day period.

The ruling of World Imports is a red flag for offshore suppliers and their global supply chain selling to U.S. customers on credit who are insolvent as they may not have a priority claim, leaving them with a non-priority claim, which translates to no distribution on the invoices. To avoid this harsh result, we consider ways the foreign supplier can reduce this payment risk.

The World Imports Court Ruling
In World Imports, a Chinese supplier had shipped goods to the Debtor within 20 days of the bankruptcy filing, and claimed that such prepetition delivery entitled them to an administrative priority claim pursuant to §503(b)(9). The supplier asserted that because §503(b)(9) does not define “receipt,” the Uniform Commercial Code should apply, which defines “receipt” as occurring when the buyer takes physical possession of the goods, which occurred within the 20 days required by §503(b)(9).

However, the debtor argued that given this was a contract for the international sale of goods the UCC was preempted by the federal CISG treaty. Under this treaty, Free On Board (“FOB”) delivery provides that the customer’s “receipt” occurs not when the customer takes physical possession, but when the vendor delivers the goods to the agreed upon carrier.

The bankruptcy court found that the contract was governed by the CISG. The court noted that the parties did not opt out of the CISG and concluded the delivery occurred outside of the 20 day window and barred the offshore supplier from administrative priority under § 503(b)(9). The World Imports only applies to international contracts between countries that have adopted the CISG treaty. The CISG has been ratified by 80 countries, including: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, and Venezuela.

The Creditor Waterfall in Chapter 11
Suppliers selling on credit to an insolvent customer know well that when the customer files chapter 11, the value of the prepetition invoices that are very old, say 100 days, will typically bring but a few cents on the dollar, often years after the filing. The reason is the creditor waterfall or priority scheme of creditors. Secured creditors are entitled to be paid first from the collateral in which they have a security interest. After secured creditors, administrative or priority creditors are next in line. Each of these creditor classes are entitled to be paid in full prior to a junior class of creditor. Last in line of the creditor class is suppliers that have provided trade credit. Even though these suppliers may have undisputed invoices entitling them to payment, the problem is that they are at the bottom of the creditor waterfall and they face a shortfall. Thus, the World Imports case is significant as the §503(b)(9) claims are often paid in full.

The Credit Team Reducing the Risk of Being Ensnared in an In re World Imports Setting
So what steps can the offshore supplier take to reduce the payment risk that World Imports creates when that customer is insolvent? One step is for the supplier to opt out of the CISG’s application. Another option is moving the customer to CIA. However, the supplier may lose the business if terms are cut off. A supplier may also require the customer to post a letter of credit at the time it delivers the goods to the carrier, which insures that payment is made to the supplier at the time the “risk of loss” shifts to the customer. With a drawdown of an L/C, the supplier is protected from preference as the payment comes from a third party, the issuing bank of the L/C, and not payment from the debtor.

Key Concepts & Terms

§503(b)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code – provides that suppliers of goods are entitled to an administrative expense claim for the invoice value of the goods received by the customer within 20 days prior to their filing

FOB Origin – The acronym for Free on Board. A shipment for which the seller is responsible for transportation and shipping costs to the point where the goods are delivered to and loaded onto a carrier.

CISG: The Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. This international treaty has been signed by most industrialized nations and many that are not. Its provisions govern the formation and subsequent rights and obligations of the parties to international contracts, meaning those entered by parties in different countries, both of which countries are signatories to the convention. The list of countries changes almost every year. Current status of accession of a particular country to this convention can be checked, for prospective sales and international law concerns, at the CISG database.
Scott Blakeley, Esq., is a founder of Blakeley & Blakeley LLP, where he advises companies around the United States and Canada regarding creditors’ rights, commercial law, e-commerce and bankruptcy law. He can be reached at seb@blakeleyllp.com.

Announcing the New anscersX Report that combines key data from D&B, Experian and Equifax into one Business Credit Report

The anscersX multi-bureau trade credit report combines key factors from the three largest trade credit reporting agencies (D&B, Experian and Equifax), giving credit managers the most complete payment story available. “We spent time reviewing all the elements on each provider’s business credit report to determine what would give anscersX clients the best insight into their customers’ credit worthiness,” says Robert Shultz, Managing Partner of Trade Information Exchange. “By using an anscersX Report, you have covered the necessary bases at a much better cost and a tremendous time savings.   The anscersX Report provides a quick review of the information needed for most trade credit decisions.”

Credit Management Association® and Trade Information Exchange are proud to announce that they have produced the anscersX Report, a single report that contains all the key elements about your customers’ paying habits needed to make most credit decisions.
Credit Management Association® and Trade Information Exchange are proud to announce that they have produced the anscersX Report, a single report that contains all the key elements about your customers’ paying habits needed to make most credit decisions.

The report, which is available now at www.anscers.com, ranges in price from $29.95 to $64.95, depending on the number of reporting agencies the user requests. Users control which reporting agencies are accessed for the report.

“The anscersX report offers some real advantages to anyone making a credit evaluation,” said CMA president Mike Mitchell. “Single-source Business Credit Reports are made up of accounts receivable data that has been contributed by companies, public record data and scores generated from the combination of this data. Since most companies that contribute accounts receivable data only send it to one provider (D&B, Experian or Equifax), using one report may only provide a piece of the payment habit story.”

The anscersX Reports are available through CMA’s web-based platform anscers.com. “The anscersX Report is a significant proprietary credit offering to our customers,” says Teresa Campos, CMA’s Credit Information Services Manager. “A key feature is the summary section that displays scores from all three providers, plus other key data. This makes the anscersX Report easy to read and comprehend so users can make faster credit decisions. There are other advantages as well. This is a web-accessed report that can easily be ordered and received at the user’s workstation in seconds, all at a low cost. There are no minimum purchase or contract requirements. The users order what they want, when they need it and only pay for the reported results,” she added.

Several CMA Members have already used the anscersX Report and have had positive experiences with it. “We got an answer in minutes as opposed to calling all the trade references on the credit application,” said Mary Donaldson, Office Manager, Worthen Equipment Inc. Grating Pacific Inc.’s Stacy Henry added: “The enhanced anscersX Report is very intuitive and easy to read. The “Summary” section at the top of the report included all the information I needed to make my decision whether to extend credit. That saved me a lot of time.”

To learn more about the program, visit www.anscers.com or call 800-541-2622.

Alerts Are Essential – When You Submit is Vital

Submit Alerts
Submit Alerts

Aside from supplying a case number, does it really help your fellow group members if the first alert you send out on a common customer is a Bankruptcy notice?

Alerts work went they are reported at the first sign of payment problems.  Would your exposure and possible loss be reduced if you received the information contained in alerts 1-3 below early in your dealings with the account?

Is there still time for action if the first alerts are #4 and #5?

Is this account doomed for a write-off if your first alert was #7?

Would you be optimistic of any recovery after alert notifications #8-10?

  1. Paid first order 45 days late

  2. Slowing, invoices are being paid 60-90 days beyond terms

  3. Constantly requesting copies of all invoices,.

  4. Phone calls and emails not been responded to

  5. A/P contact gone, calls go to voicemail

  6. 10 day demand sent

  7. Mail being returned, phone disconnected

  8. Salesmen reports storefront is empty

  9. Placed for collection

  10. Bankruptcy Notice Received

HAVE YOUR GROUP COMMIT TO SUBMITTING ALERTS AT THE FIRST INDICATION OF A PAYMENT PROBLEM?

by: Larry Convoy, Industry Credit Groups, Supervisor

 

Group “To Do” List for 2013 – Larry Convoy

Ta-Da! List
Ta-Da! List

Losing 10 pounds, eating healthier, exercising regularly, and learning how to use Excel are just a few things from my 2012 “To Do List” never accomplished that I will definitely make a priority in 2013. Do you have a “To Do List” that has some tasks not completed?  Does taking full advantage of your Industry Credit Group fall into that category?

Here are a few items for your 2013 list.

  1. Give everyone in your credit department access to anscers. It is FREE and you can delegate duties such as posting alerts, answering RFI’s and doing your monthly reporting.
  2. Mark your calendar for the entire year of group meetings. Know instantly and weeks in advance that the office meeting scheduled for the 21st conflicts with your Industry Group Meeting.
  3. Simplify your group tasks; reduce time spent by contributing an A/R file monthly. CMA’s Paul Guillen, pguillen@emailcma.org, can work with you to make an easy transition.
  4. Commit to bringing in that one industry leader that has not joined the group and whose information would be beneficial to all.
  5. Become a group officer, be a mentor to a new group member or offer to call members not participating. Groups need strong leadership from within to grow and maximize the benefits.
  6. Acknowledge and thank those who report, attend meetings and give of themselves and their credit knowledge freely.
  7. Learn what members have expertise in credit topics and dedicate 15 minutes per meeting to educational discussions.

If on December 31, 2013, you can look back and say that you completed half of the items on your list, you and your group will have had a successful year.

Thank you for your continued support of CMA.

Sincerely,

Larry Convoy
Supervisor-Industry Credit Groups

lconvoy@emailcma.org

818-972-5323

The Internet – A Resource For All Needs – Good And Bad

UT Drivers License – Google Image

One of the primary benefits of membership in an Industry Credit Group is being able to tap into the knowledge, expertise and ingenuity of the other members.  Below you will read about the extra step taken by a member that not only saved her company thousands of dollars but by sharing her method of investigation with the group, saved others from heavy losses. A fake driver’s licenses, an altered credit card with a stolen number are the elements of this scam.

The Set-Up– A phone order for an in-demand product to be delivered to obscure location and paid for by a stolen credit card number.

The Procedure– Send customer Credit Card Authorization form and request copy of driver’s license and front and back of credit card. Customer supplied necessary documents. Card cleared when initially entered.

The Extra Step– To check what a Utah drivers license looks like, the credit manager went to Google images. The first SAMPLE on the page had the same picture, height, weight, date of birth, renewal date as the one presented to her. She did the same for the copy of the American Express card she was sent and the same results, just with some slight alterations (the stolen card number) Google images provided everything needed.

Conclusion– The internet can be a valuable tool to the credit investigator and to those looking to rip you off. By making her group aware of this tool, 12 companies will have reduced the chance of being scammed for thousands of dollars.

Make time at each meeting to have your members discuss the various tools, resources and “tricks of the trade” that they have learned and utilized over the years. Their experiences are priceless.

Larry Convoy

Supervisor-Industry Credit Groups

lconvoy@emailcma.org

CA Mechanics Lien Law Revisions and Forms

SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is reminding licensees of revisions that were made to the state’s mechanics lien laws on July 1, 2012. Legal revisions mainly change the wording and format of the mechanics lien notice. Because of the changes, CSLB has updated release forms to reflect the new language. Contractors can use these documents to protect their lien rights on construction projects. The forms are available on the CSLB website (www.cslb.ca.gov).

The 20-Day Preliminary Notice is now simply called Preliminary Notice. In addition, the wording of the Notice to Property Owner statement, required as part of the Preliminary Notice, has changed. Subcontractors and suppliers should use the newly worded Notice for private home improvement projects. The Preliminary Notice should be delivered to the homeowner in person or by certified, registered, or express mail, or overnight delivery, with a receipt of the mailing as proof. You may give notice any time before work starts or products are delivered, and up to 20 days after. If you give notice more than 20 days after work or delivery, your lien rights only apply to the work or products provided 20 days before the notice was given, and anytime thereafter.

The Notice of Mechanics Lien wording also changed in the new law. This notice must accompany the lien claim and be sent via certified, registered, or first class mail, with a certificate of mailing as proof. Failure to send the properly worded Notice with the lien claim could result in the lien being unenforceable.

The conditional and unconditional lien release forms also have changed. Make sure subcontractors and suppliers sign the new conditional forms as progress payments are owed, and when the project is finished before they are given final payment. Have them sign the new unconditional release forms after they receive progress payments and their final payment. The new law gives homeowners 15 days instead of 10 to file a Notice of Completion with the County Recorder. If a notice is filed, the contractor has 60 days and subcontractors have 30 days to record a lien. If no notice is filed, all parties have 90 days to record a lien.

Download the forms and statements:

Unconditional Waiver and Release Upon Partial Payment (702)

Unconditional Waiver and Release On Final Payment (545)

Conditional Waiver and Release On Progress Payment (565)

Conditional Waiver and Release Upon Final Payment (444)

Preliminary Notice statement (517)

Notice of Mechanics Lien (454)

 

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Experian/Moody’s Analytics Small Business Credit Index

Q1 2012 highlights
The Q1 2012 report shows that although access to credit remains tight, U.S. commercial credit conditions are improving, with fewer small businesses falling behind on bill payments.

“The Q1 analysis has shown that small businesses are finally getting some relief from the credit crunch that has plagued many of them since the Great Recession. The recent improvement in small-business credit growth and quality bodes well for the broader economy and job market.” — Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics

Other trends seen in the Q1 Experian/Moody’s Analytics Small Business Credit Index include:

  • The overall health of U.S. small businesses has improved, thanks to rising consumer confidence and spending, but balance sheets are strengthening unevenly.
  • Most metrics of small-business credit quality were essentially unchanged from last quarter, but the average commercial risk score improved on a year-ago basis due to a drop in the percentage of dollars delinquent.
  • Not surprisingly, states where the labor market is healing more vigorously typically have small businesses with stronger credit standings. Similarly, small firms in states with high unemployment and lackluster housing markets are struggling.

Download the full report: Experian/Moodys Q1 2012 Report (339)

What I think I do. What I really do.

At our last Board Meeting those attending were gracious enough to help me out with ideas for a “What I Think I Do/What I really Do” meme for Commercial Credit Managers.

Commercial Credit Manager
Click to enlarge

Here is a link to the origin of this internet meme: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/what-people-think-i-do-what-i-really-do

Please feel free to post it to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, email it around. The best way to save it to your computer would be to click it and see the largest version. The right click on the image and choose “Save As” to save to your computer.

Preventative Maintenance For Credit Groups – Larry Convoy

Warning Lights

Credit groups like automobiles have warning signals when something is not operating as it should be.  Having just seen my own car’s dashboard light up like a Christmas tree due to a worn power steering belt, I think being aware of the signs and a little preventative maintenance might keep your credit group running for many more years.

Reports are FLAT – Are group members just entering the same accounts monthly on your Past Due /Meeting Review reports.  Is the company that filed for bankruptcy in January or the business that closed its doors in March still being reported?  Remind them that they should be adding new accounts and deleting expired ones each month. One solution is to contribute their full accounts receivable to CMA, set the reporting parameters (for Past Due) and let CMA do the rest.

Attendance STALLING – With www.anscers.com providing instant information, many feel attending the meeting is not necessary. Members must be reminded that meetings support the online data. Meetings give you access to professionals who know who to call in AP to collect, members can explain how to file a lien or small claims action and can share other best practices that can save your company $$$. Our speaker program is a great resource to educate. Make each meeting a learning experience.

Membership needs TUNE-UP – Groups used to grow by adding companies selling common products (steel groups add steel manufacturers). With businesses consolidating, moving offshore or just closing up, consider adding companies selling the common customer. Our Door and Window Network has recently added companies selling hardware, different product but common customer. Look at your customer, what other types of vendors are selling them.

Let’s use the last 4 months of 2011 to refresh tired reports, call absentee members and think outside the box for group expansion. Spread the idea that one trade line reported, one comment at a meeting or alert from a new member could make a significant impact on your company’s bottom line and your job.

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Remote Deposit Capture from UTA

Faster availability of funds – no more lock boxes or delays in depositing. Safer because you’ll never see a bad check again – no more returned checks.

EASY TO USE: With Remote Deposit Capture (RDC), you simply insert the check into a scanning machine and it’s instantly deposited into your bankaccount. United TranzActions provides you with everything: a scanningmachine, processing software and full reporting at your fingertips.

Download more RDC info. (298)

NACM Member Vicor Corp. Warns of Fraud Using Their Name

News Release from Vicor Corporation sent to their NACM Affiliate:

“We are aware of fraudulent purchase orders purporting to originate from Vicor Corporation being placed with distributors of office electronics that lend themselves to easy resale (e.g., laptop computers, projectors, and network routers).  Please note our Internet address is www.vicorpower.com, and any email correspondence would originate from an addressing ending in @vicr.com.  It is not our practice to ask our suppliers to ship to addresses other than those listed as company locations on our website.  Given the volume of such fraudulent activity, we ask that recipients of suspicious purchase orders confirm the validity of such by contacting us at fraud.inquiry@vicr.com.”

 

How to Be Business Friendly

Business Friendly

By Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

When you take the “friendly” out of Business Friendly, all you have left is business – business as usual. And we all know that’s just not good enough.So our new program deals with the tender subject of how to be Business Friendly. And it’s NOT just for the phones. Being Business Friendly is for all touch points of customer service. Any way you touch or reach out to your customers on the phone, in person, by email, voice mail, fax or snail mail, we need to be Business Friendly.

First of all, you may be asking yourself, “What the heck is Business Friendly?” Well, it’s the middle ground between being too cold, impersonal and uncaring, and the other extreme of being too over familiar. We’ve all experienced both I’m sure.

Here are the five points in delivering Business Friendly customer service.

Every Call is Unique – Don’t Become Desensitized: The transaction you get at the end of the day needs to be as upbeat and helpful as you were with the first one of the day. What happens is often times we get the same questions over and over and it’s easy to become desensitized. We need to remember that to the customer, his question is new to him. And it’s the first time for him; no matter what time of day it is.

Solve the Problem – Don’t Argue: You know the old saying “the customer is always right.” Well, at Telephone Doctor we’ve changed that around to “the customer always thinks they’re right” and that’s the perception we need to deal with. There are indeed times when the customer is wrong and we as service specialists know and realize it. Of what value is it to tell them “Oh Mr. Jones, you are WRONG.” None is there? So focus on the problem; don’t worry about whose fault it is. There is zero value in arguing with a customer. Don’t even get in the ring with them. You will lose every single round. Focus on solving the problem.

Show Empathy – Don’t Ignore What The Customer Says: The other day, I called a company and explained that the product they sold me wasn’t operating properly. The answer from the company representative? “Oh, OK.” AGGGGGG. That drives me crazy. First of all, it’s NOT OK that the product wasn’t working right. And secondly, where was a little empathy? Where was some sort of acknowledgement that they indeed heard what I was calling about. None. And you can have empathy in happy and good things too. Empathy isn’t only for disasters and bad times. You can join in when someone mentions a birthday, a vacation, a wedding, or anything that is happy. Point is, just do not ignore what they say. COMMENT on it.

Smile: Yup, the customer can hear it. We all know that. And since we all know that, we all need to do it. And by the way, smiling is showing your teeth. If your teeth aren’t showing, you’re only grinning – not smiling. Grins can’t be heard! Let those puppies show!

Avoid Emotional Leakage: What? Ok, what’s emotional leakage, Nancy? Well, that’s getting mad at Peter and taking it out on Paul. Not right, not fun and not fair. To take a negative thought or emotion out on one person and transfer it to another? Let’s show you how to avoid emotional leakage when one transaction goes bad and you need to deal with another one immediately.

  • Take a deep breath
  • Regain your professional composure
  • Smile (Even if it’s phony)
  • Then start the transaction

Being Business Friendly will make a huge difference in customer satisfaction. Don’t be cool and aloof and don’t get too familiar; be the middle ground and deliver Business Friendly customer service.

Reprinted with permission from Telephone Doctor, Inc. Based in St. Louis, Telephone Doctor is a customer service training company offering DVD courses, web-based training, keynote presentations and on-site workshops.  Contact them at www.telephonedoctor.com

Collection Do’s and Don’ts – from Michael Dennis

Collection Do's and Don'ts

Over the years (and more often than not by trial and error),  I have learned what often / frequently / usually works well, and what does not seem to work as well when making collection calls.  Here are some of the things that I have learned along the way:

  • Be assertive in your collection calls. Don’t become aggressive.  Aggressiveness is unprofessional.
  • Never apologize for bothering a delinquent customer by calling for payment status.  Instead, begin your call by asking when a check for the past due balance was mailed.
  • Always ask for the status of the entire past due balance.  Do not ask only about the status of invoices that are over a certain number of days or weeks past due.
  • Keep the promises you make to a customer.  For example, if you promise to release an order based on a commitment by a customer to pay the past due balance — even if you regret your decision after the fact, you still need adhere to your promise.  Your regret will remind you to think carefully before reaching any agreement with a delinquent account.
  • Don’t bluff; say what you mean and mean what you say.  For example, if you tell a customer their account will go on hold if payment is not received within 7 days, you must follow up on that commitment.  If you fail to hold orders, you will have seriously damaged your credibility with the customer and will find it difficult to obtain reasonable payment commitments from them in the future.
  • Keep your sales department informed about collection problems involving their customers.  Salespeople have a vested interest in making certain that invoices get paid and new orders get shipped rather than held.
  • Do use the telephone as your primary collection tool.  Don’t rely on written reminders, dunning notices, faxes, emails or instant messages.
  • Remember that written reminders work well only with creditworthy customers that have inadvertently overlooked one or more past due invoices.
  • Expect to receive payment in full for the entire past due balance from every customer and on every collection call.
  • Don’t give the customer an excuse not to pay you.  For example, never start the conversation by asking if the customer needs a copy of an open invoice.  Doing so provides a handy excuse for that customer to delay payment even longer.
    Consider offering cash discounts as a way to accelerate cash inflows.
  • Don’t permit unearned cash discounts.  Doing so is an invitation to the customer to continue to take larger and later unearned discounts.
  • Take time to document payment commitments in a letter or fax when negotiating with a customer that has already broken one or more payment commitments.
  • Create or use a handful of templates to complete routine correspondence quickly. Be sure to ask for the full name and title of the person you speak with in the debtor’s accounting department.  Keep that information on file in case you need to follow up.
  • Don’t leave voice mail messages except as a last resort.  Chances are good that the customer’s A/P department will not return your call.  As a common business courtesy, you will almost certainly wait [waste] at least one business day before making a second call.  A better option would be to find out when the person you need to speak with will be available and call back at that time.
  • Don’t forget to allocate a certain amount of time to addressing and resolving smaller older balances.  Collection success rate drops dramatically once account balances become more than 120 days past due.

Michael C. Dennis is the author of several books including “Credit and Collection Handbook.”  He can be reached by e-mail at:  michaelcolindennis@gmail.com. Michael will be teaching a Bulldog Collection Webinar on April 21, 2011 at 12 noon Pacific Time.

 

Need A Good Follow-Up Tool – Try Highrise

Follow-up is absolutely essential to collecting on past due accounts and keeping cash flow moving at every CMA Member company.

If you are missing out on an internal tickler system to remind you of follow-ups or relying on software (like Outlook) built for calendaring that does not store your contact history – why not consider a sales focused system. In my opinion, Credit Managers are the best sales people at any organization. Your making the hardest sales everyday – selling customers on paying for products/services they have already received.

At CMA, we use a very simple, low cost (great for those with mini-budgets), multi user tool for customer relationship management – Highrise by 37signals.com. Highrise can be perfect for those missing an internal follow-up system who want to try one out at a very low cost (even free).

What is Highrise?

By adding tasks to your customers in Highrise you create a follow-up (call, email, phone) task list for yourself. Making notes on each contact builds your history on each customer so that excuses for non-payment cannot be used again, you’ll know exactly when you faxed the copy of the invoice or when they said the check was going to be printed.

Create follow-ups by adding tasks

Adding and completing tasks, making notes, and sending emails through Highrise results in a accurate picture of all the communication between your Credit Department and the customer.

The history of your customer contacts

You can try Highrise for 30 days FREE and a basic account is as low as $24 per month. If you take the time to check it out, please report back with your thoughts here by commenting on this post.

Industry Credit Group Resolutions for 2011

From Larry Convoy – Manager CMA Industry Credit Groups

  1. Each member will look for opportunities to bring new companies into the group in 2011-(references on credit applications or faxed requests for a reference are potential members as are companies advertising in your trade journal)
  2. Contribute to your monthly report-(provide CMA with an a/r file and we can automatically extract your data each month for group reports or past due list)
  3. Alerts save you money daily, look for opportunities to submit-(change in management, slowing trends, credit withdrawn usually precede NSF checks, placed for collection and Bankruptcy. Alert before the problem escalates
  4. Utilize the RFI’s system-(while other reporting agencies can provide a broad picture of your account, an RFI tells you how they are paying your competitors. Use them on new accounts and to update. Respond to your group member’s requests in a timely manner).
  5. Prepare in advance for your monthly meeting/conference call-(have the accounts you would like to discuss or clear ready prior to the meeting. Bring an aging so you can respond immediately to any inquiry)
  6. Share your knowledge with the group-(if you have had success with Small Claims Court or filing UCC’s, offer to lead a 15 minute discussion with your group.  Speakers do not have to be from outside the group.)
  7. Ask for HELP-(whether it be suggestions for improving your credit application or your company’s computer system, someone in the group can be of assistance. Credit forms, software packages, technology are always evolving. Ask for updates, chances are several in the group have the same issues.)
  8. Use CMA’s new PHONE2PHONE speaker program-(if you need expert information, CMA has enlisted a group of speakers who will make themselves available via conference call. Work with your group secretary to reserve dates)
  9. Listen and adhere to the 3 statements read prior to each meeting-(The anti-trust, confidentiality and anti-defamation statements are for you and your company’s protection.  They should be taken seriously)
  10. Let upper management know that value of the group and your participation-(Working within the confidentiality restraints, make management aware that an alert from the credit group just saved your company thousands of dollars, or information received on a potential new account at a group meeting prevented a possible loss. Make them acknowledge that attending and participating in the credit group is a PRIORITY.)

Collection Effectiveness Index (CEI)

CMA’s current poll “What methods do you use to measure receivables?” is receiving lots of write-ins for the CEI from Credit Research Foundation (CRF) http://poll.fm/27h9q

From the CRF:

Collection Effectiveness Index (CEI)

Definition: This percentage expresses the effectiveness of collection efforts over time. The closer to 100 percent, the more effective the collection effort. It is a measure of the quality of collection of receivables, not of time.

Formula:

Beginning Receivables + (Credit Sales/N*) – Ending Total Receivables
Beginning Receivables + (Credit Sales/N*) – Ending Current Receivables
X 100
*N = Number of Months or Days

CRF has a great article Performance Measures for Credit, Collections and Accounts Receivable that describes the major measurements and their purpose with formulas.

State of Texas Audits CMA Member for Reseller Certificates

At a recent meeting of CMA’s Western Home Furnishings Credit Group, long-time member Sandberg Furniture informed the group that a tax auditor from the State of Texas was currently on site at Sandberg’s office requesting Texas Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificates (aka Resale Certificates) for all of Sandberg’s Texas customers. According to Sandberg, this is the first time the furniture manufacturer has ever been audited by another state to produce proof of customers’ status as resellers. Texas requires that suppliers get certificates signed by resellers in Texas and must keep original signed certificates on file in order to prove exemption from paying state tax on purchases. Failure to produce signed certificates can result in possible liability for unpaid sales tax that could be billed to suppliers.

CMA is bringing this matter to the attention of all of our members because of its potential to affect any member with customers in the State of Texas. Also, this action suggests that other states may engage in similar audits in an effort to generate additional tax revenue.

I would like to extend CMA’s appreciation to Sandberg Furniture for alerting us to this potentially serious situation, and allowing us to share this information with all of our members so they can be prepared.

Respectfully,

Mike Mitchell, CAE
President and CEO

A disturbing trend in selling to Chapter 11 debtors

Joseph Hanna

by: Joseph M. Hanna

For companies who plan to sell goods to customers who are in bankruptcy you need to be aware of a case that was decided in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

In the case of In Marathon Petroleum Co. v. Cohen [In re Delco Oil, Inc., the 11th Circuit ruled Marathon had to return $1.9 million paid by the chapter 11 bankruptcy debtor Delco Oil for petroleum products supplied, post-petition and pursuant to a pre-petition sales agreement, because the payments were considered unauthorized transfers under Section 549 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Delco filed a Chapter 11, later converted to a chapter 7 after which the chapter 7 trustee sued to recover the $1.9 million because payments made to Marathon were improperly paid from the cash proceeds of the debtor’s secured lender’s collateral. For its part, Delco made the payments despite being barred by the Bankruptcy Code from doing so without the lender’s or bankruptcy court’s express permission. Section 549(a) of the Bankruptcy Code authorizes a trustee to recover unauthorized post-petition transfers of estate property.

First, some bankruptcy law:   The purpose of the chapter 11 bankruptcy is to allow the debtor an opportunity to reorganize, come up with a plan to pay its creditors and emerge from the bankruptcy. Until that happens the debtor needs to keep operating in the ordinary course, however the Bankruptcy Code prohibits the post-petition use of assets, i.e., cash, accounts receivables, etc.,  by a trustee or a debtor-in-possession if there is a secured creditor who has an interest in those assets unless the secured party approves the use of such assets or the bankruptcy court after notice and a hearing authorizes the use of cash collateral.  Most, if not all, of the business bankruptcies involve a secured creditor.  Therefore, once a chapter 11 is filed the debtor immediately requests a court order granting use of “cash collateral”.  The purpose of this is to get court permission to use cash and payments from personal property that is subject to a security interest in order to continue operating their business, e.g., buy goods, pay utilities, rent, payroll, etc.  Court permission is also necessary for the sale of debtor assets, e.g., trucks, construction equipment, office equipment, etc.

In this case, there was a secured creditor who had a perfected security interest in all of Delco’s personal property.  Delco requested permission to use cash collateral however  the court denied the request.  Thereafter Delco purchased and paid for petroleum products from Marathon Oil.  Despite the many arguments presented by Marathon, all of which the court found to be unsupported by the facts and law, Marathon was ordered to return the money.

This 11th Circuit decision  is not controlling in California which is part of the 9th Circuit, however it does alert creditors and others to look more closely at what the debtor is doing and argue that the debtor payments to a trade vendor for post petition sales were done without permission of the court, or the cash collateral order did not include transactions with trade vendors, and therefore are avoidable as unauthorized post-petition transfers in violation of §549.

If you are considering selling product post-petition to a bankruptcy debtor you will want to protect your company by confirming the funds you receive are free from a creditor’s secured interest by reviewing the cash collateral order  (1)  to confirm there is an order permitting the debtor to pay you and, (2)  the order is worded to include transactions with your company.  If you are planning to sell in the 6 or 7 figures to a debtor in bankruptcy you will want a bankruptcy court order that specifically names your company.

The information contained in this email newsletter is designed to provide information on general legal issues, new legislation and recent legal developments; it should not be relied upon as legal advice. For specific questions about any of the matters discussed in this issue please contact the attorney author or send us an email. All readers should consult professional legal counsel to obtain advice on specific projects or matters.

FACTA — the Red Flags Rule

As you know, the so-called Red Flags Rule, otherwise known in Government-speak as FACTA, goes into effect on June 1, 2010, requiring most companies to develop a program to recognize and combat threats of identity theft. This message is intended as a “public service” to CMA members on the subject.

A good starting point is the FTC’s brochure on FACTA, which can be accessed at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/redflagsrule/index.shtml . On the first page of that site is another link to a lengthy .pdf brochure that represents the FTC’s description of the rule, whom the rule covers and how companies should proceed to comply with it. Unfortunately, the brochure is not specific about exactly what to do.

In addition, Mike Joncich of CMA’s Adjustment Bureau has developed a PowerPoint presentation of how the Rule works and what companies should do to comply with it.

Finally, a CMA Webinar on “FACTA and the Red Flags” is scheduled for May 6 from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. The cost for members is $79, although if you haven’t already taken advantage of your “one free Webinar” that’s part of most CMA membership packages you might want to use it for this one. The presenter is Brenda Terreault, who is with the collection dept. of NACM Oregon and has a very impressive resume’ as a former North Carolina Supreme Court clerk and as a former practicing attorney.

You need to do what you can to help your company comply with the Red Flags Rule, assuming your company is covered by the Rule as we are advised most companies likely are. The information in this message should afford you the opportunity to become as well informed as possible on this important subject.

Richard Kaufman, CAE
Credit Management Assn.

Collect on 100% of Your Calls Today!

CMA has spent years researching what makes Collectors successful. We think we have found the secret to collecting on 100% of your calls today, Puppy Powered Collection.

How does Puppy Powered Collection work:

1. Watch the video below as you prepare for your collection calls. This reduces your stress level and keeps your mind nimble for the negotiation to come.

2. Is the call getting rough? Hit play and turn the sound down, so you can absorb Puppy Power during the call. The customer may be difficult, but just look at that puppy roll around.

3. To secure an agreement for full payment – go full screen (the button with four arrows) and immerse yourself in puppy collection energy. Wait a few seconds for the full effect, then ask the customer for full payment.

These Puppy Powered Collection techniques are proven to reduce stress and help you collect on 100% of your calls today, and that’s no April Fools Joke (or is it).

CRF Open Forum in San Diego – Special Rate

The Credit Research Foundation has selected San Diego as the site for its March 2010 Open Forum. This event will take place March 8th to 10th at the Hilton San Diego Resort.
The CRF Open Forums are typically attended by as many as 250 credit professionals from major companies around the country. This 3 day conference offers attendees the opportunity to learn ideas and concepts relative to efficiently managing the credit department from experts in various credit related disciplines. It also affords those in attendance the facility to network and exchange thoughts and ideas amongst each other geared toward better management of the receivable portfolio.
We want to point out that the CMA has arranged with CRF, for the benefit of its members and associates, a significant registration discount to attend this event. Typically registration runs as high as $525 per person for non CRF member companies. However CMA is pleased to advise that it has arranged a registration fee of only $250 per person.
In this current environment of budgetary constraints and travel restrictions we feel that the significantly reduced registration we have negotiated on your behalf with CRF, coupled with nominal travel expenses, affords you the opportunity to attend and enjoy a major national credit conference with credit professionals from throughout the country at a price your organization can afford.
For further details on the March CRF Open Forum we encourage you to click on:http://www.crfonline.org/events/current.asp
To register and receive the special rate, click on: https://www.crfonline.org/ssl/forms/CMA_SanDiego2010/regform.asp?script=on

Preliminary Lien Notices – No Offense Intended

by: Richard Dreitzer, Esq. , Bullivant Houser Bailey, PC

Krista Dunzweiler, Esq., Bullivant Houser Bailey, PC

Everyone knows that when you supply labor and/or materials to a job site, the law allows you to lien that job in order to protect yourself.  Everyone also knows that in order to create a valid lien, you need to serve certain parties with a “preliminary lien notice” within a certain period of time.  But, not everyone takes these steps to protect themselves.

Why not?  The short answer is that companies don’t want to offend their customers.  But, the truth is that in the current economic environment, the issuance and service of proper preliminary lien notices is not just a preferred way of doing business; it is a necessity.  Think about it:  your customer could be the most reliable, financially secure company in the world.  However, if the Owner, or General Contractor on that job is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy (or worse), does it matter how solvent your customer is?  Absolutely not.  One financially “weak link” on a project, could cause the entire “chain” to fall apart.

For this reason, it is recommended that companies begin to view the concept of liens and preliminary lien notices a bit differently.  The issuance and service of a preliminary lien notice says absolutely nothing about the reliability or business reputation of your customer.  What it does say is that your company wishes to protect itself and expects to get paid everything it is owed, and in a timely fashion.  But, what if a customer asks, “does this mean you don’t trust us?”  The answer is simple:  “Not at all.  When it comes to liens, I’m not just doing business with you, but with everyone you’re doing business with, and we all have to protect ourselves.”

So, if your company receives a preliminary lien notice, don’t assume that your customer doesn’t trust you.  They are just trying to make sure they are in the best possible position to get paid later on.  Moreover, if your company is contemplating whether to issue and serve a preliminary lien notice, don’t hesitate.  Your company needs to protect itself with the strongest possible mechanism to ensure payment, and a mechanic’s lien will accomplish that.  With these ideas in mind, what are the steps that must be followed as to preliminary lien notices in Nevada and California?

Nevada Preliminary Lien Notice Requirements:

Pursuant to NRS 108.245, within thirty-one (31) days of first delivery of materials and/or first labor performed upon a project, every lien claimant must provide a “Notice of Right to Lien” in the following statutory-approved format:

NOTICE OF RIGHT TO LIEN

To: …………………………………………..

(Owner’s name and address)

The undersigned notifies you that he has supplied materials or equipment or performed work or services as follows:

(General description of materials, equipment, work or services)

for improvement of property identified as (property description or street address) under contract with (general contractor or subcontractor). This is not a notice that the undersigned has not been or does not expect to be paid, but a notice required by law that the undersigned may, at a future date, record a notice of lien as provided by law against the property if the undersigned is not paid.

(Claimant)

As to service of this notice, any subcontractors, equipment or material suppliers who provide such notices must also personally deliver them (or provide a copy via certified mail) to the prime contractor on their project.  It should also be kept in mind that this notice is not, by itself, a mechanic’s lien.  It is merely a necessary step to perfecting a mechanic’s lien.

California Preliminary Lien Notice Requirements:

Pursuant to California Civil Code section 3097, every lien claimant who is not under direct contract with the owner must, within 20 days of first delivery or provision of materials, equipment, labor or services, provide a Preliminary 20-day Notice to the owner, original contractor and the construction lender.  The Preliminary 20-day Notice must include the following information:

1. A general description of the labor, service, equipment, or materials furnished or to be furnished, and an estimate of the total price thereof;

2. The name and address of the person furnishing that labor, service, equipment or materials;

3. The name of the person who contracted for purchase of that labor, service, equipment or materials;

4. A description of the jobsite sufficient for identification; and

5. The following statement in boldface type:

NOTICE TO PROPERTY OWNER

If bills are not paid in full for the labor, services, equipment, or materials furnished or to be furnished, a mechanic’s lien leading to the loss, through court foreclosure proceedings, of all or part of your property being so improved may be placed against the property even though you have paid your contractor in full. You may wish to protect yourself against this consequence by (1) requiring your contractor to furnish a signed release by the person or firm giving you this notice before making payment to your contractor, or (2) any other method or device that is appropriate under the circumstances. Other than residential homeowners of dwellings containing fewer than five units, private project owners must notify the original contractor and any lien claimant who has provided the owner with a preliminary 20-day lien notice in accordance with Section 3097 of the Civil Code that a notice of completion or notice of cessation has been recorded within 10 days of its recordation. Notice shall be by registered mail, certified mail, or first-class mail, evidenced by a certificate of mailing. Failure to notify will extend the deadlines to record a lien.

In addition, if the 20-day Notice is given by a subcontractor who has failed to pay all compensation due to his or her laborers on the job, the notice must also contain the identity and address of any laborer and any express trust fund to whom the employer payments are due.

With regard to service of the 20-day Notice, the notice may be served as follows: by delivering the notice personally, or by leaving it at the individual’s residence or place of business with a person in charge, or by first-class registered or certified mail at the individual’s residence, place of business or the place of business shown by the building permit on file  In addition, if the individual resides outside of California and cannot be served, the lien claimant may provide notice by first-class certified or registered mail, addressed to the construction lender or to the original contractor.

Just as with Preliminary Lien Notices and Mechanics Liens in Nevada, the Preliminary 20-day Notice is not a mechanic’s lien, but is a prerequisite to perfecting a mechanic’s lien.

17 Tips For Writing Effective Emails

1. What is the purpose of your email? If it is to give the person some information about something that is of interest to them and it contains a lot of detail, then you may need to send an email. If you require some feedback immediately from that person, then you may be better off giving them a call.

2. Summarise the objective of the mail message at the beginning and if it is long, explain it step by step.

3. If you need something to be done, inform the recipient of any due dates.

4. If you are intending on copying anyone, ask yourself if that person really needs a copy.

5. Attach the sender’s message or reply to their message so they know what it is in relation to.

6. Avoid long, drawn out email conversations, a face to face conversation or phone call may be better.

7. Use the invite attendees feature in the Calendar to schedule a meeting instead of writing and sending an email invitation. It sends the attendee an email invitation which they only have to click yes or no to save them time.

8. If available to your system, request a read receipt for a message instead of calling the person to confirm that the message has arrived. In the e-mail, click the button and select “Request a Read Receipt for this Message”.

9. If you don’t get a response from the email, follow up with a phone call.

10. Proof read your email before sending. Did you write your email in an angry manner or was it polite and the reader will understood the email?

11. Will your email be understood by the other person? If they are unable to respond to you face to face, they may not understand your motivation behind your email. In this case, it may be better to call the person.

12. Delivery is not guaranteed. For whatever reason, sometimes your email does not get to the intended recipient, sometimes they just get lost in email land. Requesting a Read Receipt will alleviate this if you have the function available and the recipient chooses to send you a read receipt.

13. Be concise as extra waffle may not be read or understood; if possible write ideas or topics in bullet points. Can you write your email in an effective way with the most important information first? You may even want to write the email in bullet points to make the email easier to read.

14. Out of office replies need to be taken notice of as your recipient many not have read your email yet. You could possibly follow up with a phone call at a later date when the recipient is available.

15. Be clear about what you want them to do. Do you want them to call you, do some work for you or sign up for a product or service?

16. When sending emails within your organisation, use task requests to increase the commitment to a task if this feature is available on your system.

17. Let them know that you are available to answer their questions and the numbers that you can be contacted on.

About the Author:

Ann-Marie Gil
Business Success Pty Ltd
Professional Coach/Consultant
http://www.yourvirtualcoaches.com
http://www.yoursuccess.com.au

Creditworthiness – It’s In Your Face

Faces 

Dr. Jefferson Duarte of Rice University in Houston has conducted studies suggesting that you can judge a person's creditworthiness by looking at his face.

Using the website Prosper.com Dr. Duarte had 25 workers review the photos attached to loan applications. Rating them 1-5 on creditworthiness they found that the creditworthiness ratings correlated to their actual credit histories.

Rate Your 401K – Brightscope.com

Chart From their website: BrightScopeTM, Inc. is a provider of 401k ratings and financial intelligence to plan sponsors and participants in all 50 states. Our mission is to increase the retirement security of America's workforce by bringing transparency and efficiency to the 401k plan market. We maintain a comprehensive database of information on the 401k plan market and add additional value and insight by quantitatively rating each 401k plan across critical metrics. BrightScopeTM empowers plan sponsors to quickly and accurately determine the optimal structure for their 401k plan and choose the providers that provide the most value for the fees they charge. BrightScope is the only 401k analytics firm that is truly independent and does not accept compensation in the form of revenue sharing from mutual fund companies or plan providers. BrightScope is aligned with plan sponsors and seeks to avoid conflicts that will jeopardize its ability to give its clients unbiased advice. BrightScope is not a fiduciary under ERISA.

Experian FREE Training Webinars Start Feb 3, 2009

February webinar topics are:

  • Introduction to Experian Business Information Solutions — BizSource, TrueSearch, Data quality 
  • Commerical Collections tools – Delinquency Notification Services and Collection Recovery Tool 
  • Business Report + Business Owner Report – How to read our two most comprehensive commercial credit reports 
  • Intelliscore Plus Report(s) – Commerical & Consumer Blended — The value of Intelliscore Plus including how to use blended scores. Learn about the Intelliscore Crosswalk (CI vs. IP) and the NEW large business segment model.  

Click here to learn more and sign up. 

Where do you get your online news?

Here are some sites I visit everyday for online news. Where do you go, click the comments section to share.

1. General world news: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ – definitely has a liberal slant on the news stories, but usually has all the breaking news.

2. Tracking consumer trends: http://consumerist.com/ – can give you a heads up on whose laying off, and what companies are facing decreased consumer confidence which will effect sales.

3. Latest stories and business news: http://news.google.com/ – Google News tracks the latest stories as they happen. Their business section is chock full of data. Also a great search tool – in Google News search for a company or search Chapter 11 to find out the latest filings.

Those are three of my favorites, how about you…

Take Your Lunch, Please

As companies tighten their budgets and curtail hiring, employees may be asked to take on more responsibilities. This can come with sacrifices, including a shortened lunch hour. According to a Robert Half survey, executives polled said their average lunch break is 35 minutes, seven minutes less than what they reported five years ago. Taking that mid-day break is important because it allows you to recharge and renew your creative juices.

Here are some tips for keeping your lunch break.

  • Plan your day. Schedule your break to fall between projects, if possible, and set morning deadlines for important tasks so you can relax over lunch.
  • Schedule lunch with colleagues. During a busy period, change a team meeting to a working lunch outside the office. The time away will improve your energy while maintaining productivity.
  • Book an appointment. Block off your online calendar so coworkers don’t schedule calls or meetings during that time. Be flexible, though, if there are no other options.
  • Step away from the desk. If you are unable to leave your building for lunch, take a walk around the office. If possible, eat in the lunch room or break area with colleagues.
  • Put work aside. If you have to be near your computer or phone, face your chair away and do a nonwork activity, such as reading a newspaper or magazine.

Source: Robert Half – workvine.com

Equifax $2.95 Commercial Credit Report Offer

With more than 24 million small businesses in the Equifax commercial database, you’ll have access to critical credit information that is often hard to come by. Our comprehensive Commercial Credit Report includes trade payment history, bank and lease payment information, public records and firmographics. You no longer have to make important business decisions based on minimal, self-reported information from the business. See a sample report.

Now, in addition to trade payment history, you have access to additional data that is just as important to understanding a business’ financial condition and capacity to pay. Automatically included with the Commercial Credit Report, this valuable data is also leveraged through our risk scores, providing a higher degree of predictability.

Finally, you can reap the rewards of approving more small businesses that are financially stable and protect yourself from losses by identifying those that show signs of financial distress.

Request More Info and Your Two FREE Reports

Respond today and receive special pricing of $2.95 for a Commercial Credit Report plus risk score – valid for the first 30 days of service* and two FREE Reports

*Offer valid for new customers only.

Thinking Globally, Acting Globally

International Business on the Rise for U.S. Companies, Survey Shows
Barriers to world markets have been steadily
eroding for many companies in recent years. In a nationwide survey of senior
executives, three out of five (61%) respondents said their companies are doing
more international business today than five years ago.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, and includes
interviews with 150 senior executives—including those from human resources,
finance and marketing departments—with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

Senior executives were asked, "Is your company doing more business
internationally, through international office expansion or a global customer
base, than it was five years ago?" Their responses:

Yes 61%
No 39%

"As more companies experience an increase in international business, an
exceptionally prepared workforce is necessary to compete on a global basis,"
said Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.
"Firms today need a common understanding of cultures, languages and ethical
standards to better serve customers across different countries and time zones."

McDonald also noted that financial regulations and reporting standards may
have an impact on recruiting efforts. "Accounting and finance departments within
firms that operate globally will require professionals skilled in both generally
accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and international financial reporting
standards (IFRS)."

Source: Robert Half International

Developing Your Soft Skills

Being able to type 80 words per minute or knowing how to put
together a PowerPoint presentation are valuable skills to have, but technical
abilities arent the only ones you need to be
concerned about. Interpersonal, orsoft, skills are equally valuable in todays workplace. Demonstrating qualities such as empathy,
humor and tact are critical whether youre
meeting with a potential client or explaining to your manager why the company
should consider having a blog on its website. Here are some tips for developing
the less-technical aspects of your skill set:

Be appreciative. Always be
willing to provide praise or words of encouragement to others. Thank coworkers
who help you complete a project or who simply do something thoughtful for you.
And avoid taking sole credit: For instance, did you work on a high-profile
project in which a coworker frequently pitched in? Acknowledge his or her
contributions to your manager and colleagues.

Be enthusiastic. Which type of
person would you most like to work with: someone who clearly loves her job and
encourages others to excel or an individual who constantly complains about his
responsibilities? Keep this in mind when evaluating your own work style. An
upbeat attitude will not only improve your relationships with other team
members, but it also can help as you pursue future opportunities.

Be a team player. Is a colleague
working on two major initiatives that must be completed by next week? Offer to
help out if youre not overloaded yourself.
Assisting overwhelmed coworkers builds camaraderie – and also makes it more
likely they will help you the next time youre
buried in work.

Heard in
the LunchroomSM is provided by Robert Half, the
worlds largest specialized
staffing firm and a leading authority on workplace and management trends.  For
more information, visit www.rhi.com.

Put A Contract Out On Yourself!

Stikk_2
New Year, new goals and resolutions. If you want to try a new tactic to meet your goals take a look at stickk.com.

From WebWorkerDaily.com: New online service Stickk
thinks it has an answer to this issue. Their strategy is summed up by
the tagline on the site: “put a contract out on yourself!” The basic
idea (put together by some Yale academics) is simple: Stickk helps you
add financial incentives to help yourself fulfill long-range goals.

Most Valuable Worker

Want to be seen as one of your companys go-to employees? You can start
by always finishing your assignments on time and steering clear of office
politics, according to a recent Robert Half International survey. Forty percent
of the 150 senior executives we polled said that meeting deadlines is the most
important characteristic of a team player, while 25 percent thought avoiding
office politics was critical.

            Here are some tips for becoming
your work teams
most valuable player:

  • Be willing to adapt. Dont be surprised if duties or priorities shift over
    time, especially during different stages of a project. Be flexible in these
    situations to not only help the team remain on track but also set a good example
    for other members.
  • Take one for the
    team
    . Dont
    play the blame game if something goes awry. Instead, focus on correcting the
    problem and moving forward. Your willingness to acknowledge mistakes when
    appropriate will encourage personal accountability in others.
  • Play fair. Give credit where it
    is due, and be generous in your praise. Be sure to thank unsung heroes who
    contribute to a projects success, especially
    because theres a good chance youll be working with them again.
  • Talk things out. Do your part to
    minimize office politics by engaging in open communication and fostering an
    atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.

FTC Advisory Opinion To Debt Collectors

"In response to ACA International’s (“ACA’s”) request for a Commission advisory opinion (“Request”) regarding whether the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) prohibits a debt collector from notifying a consumer who disputed a debt that the collector has ceased its collection efforts. ACA submitted the Request pursuant to Sections 1.1-1.4 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice, 16 C.F.R. §§ 1.1-1.4. As explained more fully below, the Commission concludes that a debt collector providing such a notice to a consumer would not
violate the FDCPA"

Download FTC_Opinion.pdf

Are You Spending 11 hours Online (a Day)?

From the Digital Now Blog "According to the latest Harris Poll, the number of online users has reached an
estimated 178 million, a ten percent increase over 2006.

People are also
spending more time online. In 2005, the average number of hours per day was 8;
in 2006, it rose to 9; in 2007, people are spending 11 hours – or nearly half
the day – online.

Women and people over 50 years of age fell behind the
curve, with those 65 and older demonstrating the greatest deviation from the
norm."

Win a 7-day Carribean Cruise for two from ACM

ACM and Fifth Third Processing Solutions have decided to give away another seven-day Carribean cruise for two! To enter this drawing, simply submit your Merchant Services statements for a FREE COST ANALYSIS and/or request a proposal from ACM. Drawing held November 30.

Three Ways to Enter:
FAX your statements to 678.868.1753
EMAIL your statements to savings@acmeft.net
REQUEST a proposal by calling 800.759.6786 x4805

You must be an NACM member to enter.

It’s the time of year to review potential write-offs

Not every company is of the size or type that needs to follow Sarbanes-Oxley rules of due-diligence for a write-off. If yours is, or you just want to be fully prepared consider sending your potential write-offs to CMA Collection Division. Third-party activity before a write-off helps fulfill Sarbanes-Oxleys rules for a write-off.

Place bad debts with CMA for immediate collection action. CMA will use our resources to trace skipped accounts and maximize the collection percentage. Every account collected reduces your year end write-off amount.

Download place_trace_collect.pdf

How it works:

  • Identify the accounts that are potential year-end bad debt write-offs.
  • Place them with CMA Collection Division using anscers.com or Download place_trace_collect.pdf
    Place and your Trace is FREE!
  • CMA will Trace any skipped accounts, and look for assets on accounts with a judgment.
  • CMA will collect on as many accounts as possible. For those we can not collect, you will receive a closing report that satisfies the due diligence requirements for a write-off according to Sarbanes-Oxley.

Place, Trace, Collect is a win-win situation for you. Your account will be collected, or you will be protected by performing due diligence before claiming a write-off.

To find out more about CMA Collection Division go to creditservices.org, anscers.com

Improving Written and Verbal Communication

You may not have given a lot of thought to it, but your oral and written
communication abilities have a tremendous effect on your professional success.
In today’s credit industry, communication skills are as important as technical
know-how: They influence how others perceive you as well as your ability to
accomplish tasks. In fact, members of the Financial Leadership Council—a
distinguished group of finance executives convened by Robert Half
International—recently identified communication skills as an essential
interpersonal ability for today’s finance and credit professionals.

The council—made up of executives from business and private industry, public
accounting, academia and professional associations—recently met to discuss
current and future challenges in these fields and brainstorm potential
solutions. Following are some tips from the council on mastering oral and
written exchanges as highlighted in an extensive report, Charting the Future
of the Accounting, Finance and Audit Professions
:

  • Plan ahead. Before writing a report or email, consider what
    you’d like your message to accomplish. What should recipients feel, think and do
    after they read it? The response you receive—or don’t receive—is a great way to
    measure your communication effectiveness. If you don’t get your intended
    results, study the message to pinpoint where you may have been unclear.
  • Spelling counts. Your electronic messages can be easily
    forwarded to others, so be sure that your communications are professional and
    polished. Though IM and email tend to encourage informality, it’s still
    essential to adhere to punctuation, spelling and grammatical rules. Also, avoid
    any acronyms that some members of your audience might not understand.
  • Find a mentor. Even if you feel confident in your
    abilities, a more seasoned professional can help you take written messages and
    oral presentations to the next level. Seek a mentor who is known for his or her
    diplomacy and effective communication skills. Such a person can be invaluable in
    helping you determine the styles and avenues that are consistent with the
    culture of your particular organization. You can learn, for example, when it’s
    best to communicate via email or when a personal or telephone meeting would be
    most appropriate.
  • Volunteer for presentations. The most effective
    professionals can communicate confidently with clients as with colleagues. To
    work on these skills, you could volunteer to make presentations at work, join a
    group such as Toastmasters or take on a speaking role within your local industry
    association.

Source: Robert Half Finance and Accounting and Accountemps

NACM Western Region Credit Report Nov 1, 2007

Nacm_wrcr
Success is the NACM Western Region Affiliates joining forces to create a
powerful business credit report. Sharing data, from participating affiliates, we
have created a rich business credit report for a great member price.

Members selling into the Western Region will find this combined data
invaluable to your credit decisions. Many local members have a growing sales
territory, by creating this business credit report your local NACM Affiliate is
growing with you.

NACM Western Region Affiliates—joining forces for your success!

Available November 1, 2007 on anscers.com.

Credit Research Foundation 2007 Resource Guide

Update: 2:25 pm I put the wrong link in the post, my apologies. Here is the correct link.

I have been surfing the net a bit this morning preparing for my talk at CFDD tonite., and found a great item on the CRF site.

A 98 page resource guide for the Credit Manager in PDF format. Click here to access.

The only problem with it is that is does not list NACM affiliates as resource providers – but it does give you many choices for everything from credit reports to dispute resolution.

Too Casual for Comfort?

While employees have embraced dress-down Fridays and
casual work environments, a recent survey suggests that workers might not want
to hang up their business suits just yet. Ninety-three percent of managers
polled by Robert Half International said a person
s style of dress at work influences his or
her chances of earning a promotion. So if you
re angling for the top spot, dress like
the person who
s in it. Here
are some additional tips for choosing the right workplace wardrobe:

  • Put your best foot forward. Keep your shoes polished and in
    good condition.
  • Get a brand-new bag. Invest in a quality briefcase,
    messenger bag or purse, since this item is visible and used daily.
  • Dont overdo it. Less is more when
    accessorizing. Steer clear of distracting jewelry or accoutrements. 
  • Keep scents subtle. People shouldnt catch a whiff of your perfume before they catch sight of
    you. You want to be known for your expertise, not your choice of fragrance.
  • Have a spare. Even on casual days, keep a jacket and extra
    hosiery handy. If you’re called into an important meeting or asked to greet a
    client, youll be prepared.

One thing to remember about dressing up for work: When you
look good, youll feel more confident. And that
confidence will be reflected in your performance, something your manager will be
sure to notice.

Source: Robert Half – workvine.com

cc: Prelegal Department

Members of a CMA Industry Credit Group exchanged a Hot Tip that increases the response to a past due demand letter.

At the very bottom of the letter add; cc: Prelegal Department

This cc: sends the message that their account is under review for further action.

What do you think of this technique? Please click Comments under this post on the CMA Daily News site to respond.

Effectively Managing Staff Vacations

As summer weather warms up and children enjoy a break from school, you’re
probably expecting many in your department to take vacation time. In a survey
developed by Accountemps, 36% of senior executives polled said August was the
best month for employees to take time off, while 21% said July. Yes, it’s
traditional, but don’t forget: While breaks can offer a fantastic source of
rejuvenation for your employees, they can also cause a bit of stress for those
left back in the office. Here are some tips to help make vacation season
relaxing for all involved:

  • Plan ahead. Let employees know that you’d like as much
    notice as possible for their vacation requests. After all, not everyone can take
    a break at once. Clearly communicate your department’s policy so that your staff
    understands the procedure when multiple workers would like the same days off.
    For instance, is your policy based on seniority or is it first-come
    first-served? Be sure to consider how vacation time was awarded in prior years,
    so that no one is left feeling unfairly treated.
  • Create a back-up plan. To make sure things run smoothly,
    have employees who are taking time off designate a point person who will answer
    questions, make decisions on time-sensitive matters and carry out any necessary
    action items while they are away. This will allow the absent staffers to truly
    rest, rather than spend their break consulting with coworkers via laptops and
    cell phones.
  • Enlist temporary help. Even with proper planning for
    vacation season, there will be times when several people will be out during the
    same time, which can leave the rest of your staff feeling frazzled. To prevent
    this, you may want to consider bringing in project credit professionals to help
    fill in the gaps. Interim employees can alleviate pressure placed on your
    non-vacationing employees.

Source: Robert Half Financing and Accounting and Accountemps

Outsourcing Collections Adds Value

Add_value

In a recently released study conducted by Euler Hermes ACI, outsourcing commercial collections was shown to have a positive effect on company value. The report, entitled "The 411 on Outsourcing Commercial Collections," stated, "engaging the services of a commercial collection company is about safeguarding the assets of a company, which is imperative for any company’s financial well-being."

"By using an established provider of accounts receivable management, a company can keep its internal credit management staff focused on the function for which it is trained," said Michael Puckett, president of Euler Hermes’ commercial collections arm, Euler Hermes UMA. "Through outsourcing, a company can eliminate in-house costs in a way similar to utilizing a payroll company or benefits management provider."

Puckett added that a solid collections strategy and reputation is also necessary to increasing company value. "Early placement policies and systematic pursuit of slow and non-payers will announce to customers and prospects alike that your company is serious about collecting what is due for goods and services," he said. "The opposite perception is no advantage in the marketplace."

Source: Jacob Barron, NACM staff writer

To learn more about CMA’s Commercial Collection Services click here or call Raul Mendoza, CMA Collection Specialist at 818-972-5325.

$2.95 Equifax Small Business Credit Reports for 30 Days

Equifax_report
For about the price of a cup of coffee we’d like to give you a taste of what our unique blend of commercial credit data can do for you. Respond by April 30 to receive 30 days of Equifax Commercial Credit Reports with risk score for the promotional price of just $2.95 each.

Click here to get more information.

With over 23 million businesses in our database, Equifax Commercial Solutions is taking the lead in commercial credit data. Trade payment history, public records, firmographics and unique banking and leasing data provide you with a more complete picture of your business applicant’s financial health. Combined with our highly predictive risk scores, you will have the information you need to make smarter commercial credit decisions.

International Collections — Making Credit As Good As Cash Sales

International

Good collection policies and procedures can
bring in cash for international sales as effectively as cash deals.
That was the main message conveyed by Eddy Sumar, CCE, CICE,
International Trade Financing Manager, for Rain Bird Intl., Inc.,
during an FCIB audio teleconference, March 22, 2007.

Sumar’s
teleconference, "The Fundamentals of International Collections,"
explored basic techniques and tips on how to strategically focus a
company’s international collection efforts to maximize the extent and
timeliness of payments on credit sales. Credit sales, which are a
necessity in many cases in order to compete for business, do not have
to tie up a company’s cash flow as long as sound collection
fundamentals are planned and executed. "The objective is to turn the
receivable into cash," Sumar said. "No matter what we do, if the sales
don’t turn into cash, the company won’t exist very long."

There
are a number of factors that are key to good collections cited by
Sumar, such as those involved in forming good relationships with
customers. That relationship with the customer should involve all
segments of the company, not only in the credit department, but also in
the sales, marketing and customer service departments. "Everybody in
the company is involved in the collection process." If there is a
payment dispute, Sumar advised approaching the impasse very carefully
and diplomatically. "Never turn a dispute into a confrontation,
especially in an international sales. (The legal department) should be
the last resort of your collection effort. All you get is a big legal
fee."

Exercising due diligence, in terms of
investigating and evaluating the creditworthiness and character of a
customer is very important to getting paid on a timely basis. Assessing
risk in international sales also requires an assessment of country
risk. Also, every country presents a unique set of variables that must
be understood such as the culture of the citizens and the bureaucracy
of the government. On the subject of culture, Sumar noted that in
Germany, for example, if you called someone by their first name it
could be considered an insult. One credit strategy for new customers
suggested by Sumar is to start off with prepayments or letters of
credit sales then, if the circumstances warrant, shift to credit terms.

In terms of building successful customer
relationships, Sumar advised making personal customer visits and
building up a network of other organizations such as dealers and
collectors that can help. "FCIB could help you with a network," Sumar
said. "If you gain the respect of a customer, your chances of getting
paid are much greater," he added. Customers must also be educated on
the expectations of the credit department he pointed out. "Educate your
customer on your terms and conditions." He noted, for example, that if
a customer wants to be paid in 30 days, when that time period starts
needs to be clearly communicated, such as at the time of the invoice or
the date of shipment. Also, in terms of cash in advance he said, "Cash
in advance doesn’t mean a check. If a check is on foreign currency it’s
not immediate cash. When we talk about cash in advance, we need cash in
my bank."
  By Tom Diana, NACM Staff Writer

Credit Today’s 2007 Salary & Job Satisfaction Survey Is Now Open!

Survey

It’s time for Credit Today’s 2007 Salary & Job Satisfaction Survey. Your
participation is very important to helping ensure a robust sample size to enable
us to "drill down" in the data to have meaningful data in various segments.

As a special thanks for your participation, all Credit Today Members will
receive a free copy of the entire $175 report. Non-members will receive a free
copy of the Executive Summary. Make sure you use the signup page following the
survey to let us know you participated!

For your information, there are 6 parts to the survey:

  1. Tell us about you and your company…
  2. Your earnings information…
  3. Credit staff positions…
  4. Description of your job…
  5. Your department…
  6. Your job satisfaction…

Click here to find out more and take the survey.

Managing Energy In The Workplace

Energy

Managing energy is not just about food. It’s about managing working
conditions that affect how your body releases energy. This includes managing
stress, oxygen levels, exercise levels and food breaks. Work demands can zap
energy very quickly so you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve to boost
your energy supply to help you both physically and mentally.

The Brain Protein Continuum

The neurons in your brain are largely made of fat. The brain cells
communicate with each other using neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are made
up from amino acids; protein building blocks. Another important amino acid is
tyrosine.

Eating protein increase levels of tyrosine in the brain, helping the brain
generate nor-epinephrine and dopamine. These chemicals promote alertness. The
absorption of protein is assisted by carbohydrates. So eating a balanced supply
of carbs and protein throughout the day will keep that brain network humming and
avoid that 3pm black hole.

Top 10 Work Day Energy Guidelines

 

  1. Start the day well rested – Treat your bed as an important
    energy re-supply station and ensure you book in long enough for the process to
    be completed. That means 7 to 9 hours a night.
  2. Try a workout first thing – even 20 minutes will boost your
    bodies oxygen supply and keep your head thinking straight longer during the day.
    It’s often much harder to feel inspired at the end of the day. If morning isn’t
    your thing – the evening can still work. Try tricking yourself. Change into
    workout gear as soon as you get home. Switch on the television or put on a DVD,
    and instead of heading for the couch, sit on a workout bike or yoga mat with
    some weights. A few seconds later the brain starts connecting the visual
    messages and before you know it an hour has gone by.
  3. Keep the body supplied with fuel – Eat a small, healthy
    snack every few hour of lean protein and whole grain carbs. The carbs provide a
    rapid energy release, while the protein provides longer-lasting energy.
  4. Keep the body well hydrated – air conditioning is extremely
    drying on your system, and that includes the brain.
  5. Take an oxygen break – if you don’t have time for a full
    lunch break, take at least a 10 minute walk around the block or anywhere where
    there is more oxygen than car fumes. I use walking catch-ups. If a staff member
    wants to chat about something briefly I get us both out for a walk.
  6. Try boosting energy during the day – some deep breathing
    [preferably not whilst on the phone to the CEO]; taking the stairs instead of
    the elevator or just standing up doing some leg raises all help to move oxygen
    around the body and boost the cells energy producing processes. I keep a small
    hand weight on my desk and it’s amazing what you can do during a phone call!
  7. Keep good energy nutrition snacks at work – protein balls
    are my favourite. I make them on Sunday and they last the whole week in the
    refrigerator. [that is if I don’t eat them all by Thursday]. I use them for my
    3pm low zone snack and as a mental pick-me-up before entering a long meeting.
  8. Reduce the alcohol during the week – try getting it down to
    one glass a night – you will be amazed how much easier it is to get out of bed
    in the morning and you will be more likely to feel like doing that early morning
    workout. And your skin will look fantastic!
  9. Go easy on the coffee – caffeine is not a good long term
    solution for energy throughout the day. It’s addictive and better left to one
    cup first thing in the morning. You will sleep better also.
  10. Reduce the size of your evening meal and avoid carbs after
    6pm
    – you will find you will sleep better and that translates into more
    energy during the day.

And if you want to contribute to the worlds renewable energy supply – take a
leaf from enterprising gym enthusiasts like Doug Woodwring who are harnessing
energy created from everyday workouts and converting it into usable power.

Author: Nicola Carr is a fitness and life advocate for anti-tiredness.com Learn how to avoid
tiredness
and maintain muscle mass using antiaging bodybuilding She has also been a management
performance consultant for many years.

Get the IRS to Help Collect from Your Most Delinquent Accounts

Tax_man

At some point every business will encounter this problem: the customer who refuses to pay. You’ve tried every tactic at your disposal, but to no avail. What else can you do prior to writing it off or placing the account with a collection agency?

The IRS Advantage
The collection strategy works on the premise of reporting the debt as a loss. The IRS will view this as income to the debtor. In other words, your loss becomes your customer’s gain and as such can be reported to the IRS at yearend. It’s a well-known fact that the IRS routinely runs computer matches of 1099s against the recipient’s tax filing. This could increase their chances of an IRS examination letter and audit — something most businesses want to avoid.

Specifically, you would mail or fax a letter along with the appropriate IRS Form requesting their tax ID information. The letter should state that the debt has been deemed uncollectible and needs to be reported to the IRS as debt cancellation income. For more effectiveness, you should follow-up with a phone call to mention the enclosed forms and penalties for failure to furnish TIN.

Created in 1993 and reviewed by TIGTA in 2005, this innovative and powerful letter/script set can either be used by creditors directly or by third party collectors.

This changes the rules of the game. Once your debtor realizes the IRS could be examining their tax filing a little more closely, you’ll be surprised how quickly a check will arrive in the mail.
Source: Ben F. Ricci, Stevens & Ricci, Inc.

CMA News Readers – Let’s Discuss – Have you ever used this tactic before and was it successful? Click the comments link below this post on the CMA News site to add your thoughts.

How Do I Delegate Better?

Delegation

Lots of bosses are good at dumping, but not at delegating. They’re
great at off-loading the things they don’t like to do and dropping
assignments on their subordinates with little or no guidance.

Other
bosses think that delegating is always the best way to assign work.
That’s not right either. When you’ve got a competent and willing
worker, delegation is the right way to go, but it’s not a good choice
for workers who aren’t as competent or committed.

Delegation is
only one among the four basic options you when you ask a subordinate to
do a piece of work. Here they are in order from most controlling to
least controlling.

Make the decisions about what is to be done and tell folks what to do. I call this style "Tell."

Telling
is good for people who may be new to the job and have lots of
enthusiasm, but not enough ability yet. It’s also the style you’ll use
with subordinates who’ve proved through several supervisory interviews
that they may have the competence, but they seriously lack willingness.
Those are discipline problems and tight control is appropriate.

You
can also discuss the work with your subordinate, but make the final
decision. This is good for less experienced people who either need
instruction or who need their confidence built up. I call this style
"Discuss and Tell."

Discuss and Tell is the style that most
managers seem to like best and revert to under pressure. It seems like
it let’s them be both "participative" and in control. But using just
Discuss and Tell is a bad idea, especially when you’re helping a
subordinate grown and develop.

At some point, your subordinate
will demonstrate that he or she understands the work that needs to be
done. That’s the time to use the style I call "Discuss and Allow." With
that style you discuss the work with your subordinate, and then let
them decide what to do.

Discuss and Allow is the hardest option
for most managers because it involves giving up control before they’re
really sure how competent a subordinate is, but it’s essential if your
subordinate is going to develop to a point where you can delegate to
him or her. Many managers want to jump right over this step and simply
assign work. Don’t do it.

Part of your job as a manager is
developing your people so they’re competent enough that you can
delegate almost any task to them. That won’t happen all at once. To
make sure they develop well, you’ve got to go through Discuss and Allow
before you move to the style I call "Allow" or "Delegation."

When
you delegate, you give your subordinate the assignment and ask what
they need from you. This is true delegation. It’s only appropriate for
people who have mastered the kind of work to be done and who willingly
pitch in.

As you work with people new to the job you’ll move
through the four styles as they grow and develop. Remember that you use
different styles with different people and with the same people on
different tasks. You make your decision on what style to use based on
your subordinate’s ability and willingness to handle the specific work
you need to assign.

In my programs, I use the acronym AW, GOSH to
help understand how much control to give a subordinate. Here’s what
those letters stand for.

A stands for ability. Do they have the
ability to do the job? If they don’t have the skills or resources, then
you have either a training or resource issue, not a supervision issue.

W
stands for willingness. Do they willingly do work that they’ve been
given? Sometimes we talk about this by saying that a person is
"motivated."

The comma (,) is to indicate that the two factors
above are the most important ones to consider. The following factors
may affect how you handle a specific situation, but they aren’t nearly
as important as your basic judgment about Ability and Willingness.

G
stands for growth. If I let go a bit more, will it help this person
grow and be an even better worker in the long term? I’ve found that
most managers are reluctant to relinquish control, so if you’re in
doubt, give your subordinate more freedom.

O stands for
organization. Are there any rules, regulations, or cultural norms that
might cause me to modify my original decision?

S stands for
situation. If the situation is either physically or psychologically
dangerous you may want to retain more control. If it allows for safety
and for the person to fail (but not horribly) then you can loosen up a
bit.

H stands for "How will this affect others?" Will this set a
precedent? Will it be perceived as fair? Does it set a good example?
Remember that the people who work for you watch everything you do.

Instead
of thinking just about whether you can delegate better, strive to give
people the maximum control possible over their work life while helping
them grow and assuring that your team is productive. The best way to do
this is to use all four styles based on the ability and willingness of
your subordinate to do the job.

Wally Bock works with a limited number of managers to help them improve their personal and business results (http://www.threestarleadership.com/coaching.htm) and speaks to audiences in the US and elsewhere.  He also writes the Three Star Leadership blog (http://blog.threestarleadership.com/). Wally’s free Control Continuum Form will help you do a better job of delegating

The Global CFO Study – by IBM

Ibm_study

Based on interviews and surveys of over 700 CFOs and senior finance
professionals worldwide, the study identifies the key challenges faced in
today’s business climate.  From nurturing profitable growth while cutting costs
to dealing with the new regulatory environment and tackling its complexity, see
how the finance function can and does drive business goals.

Click here to register and download the study from IBM’s website.

Seeking a Mentor for Professional Success

Mentor

When faced with a tough decision on the job, do you have someone you can go to for advice? A mentor is the working world’s version of a savvy older sibling — someone you can count on as a confidant and friend, someone you go to for guidance in navigating tough professional situations. Whether you’re just getting started in the credit industry or you have several years of experience, seeking a knowledgeable mentor can significantly boost your career progress. Here’s what to look for in a potential professional partner:

Why seek a mentor? Having someone to provide encouragement and steer you through professional dilemmas is particularly important for new credit professionals, but those more advanced in their careers can also benefit from the counsel of an industry veteran. Of 1,400 Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) polled in a recent Accountemps survey who said they had had a mentor, 35 percent said having a confidant and advisor was the single most important benefit of the relationship. Another 27 percent said the top advantage was gaining insight into a particular field or industry, 21 percent cited encouragement or boosts to morale, and 12 percent said introductions to key networking contacts were most beneficial.

What makes a good mentor? Look for an individual who is well respected within the firm and who has a good handle on communication and networking skills. A formal mentoring relationship isn’t always necessary; new employees can learn a lot by observing and seeking advice from those in more advanced positions. An experienced mentor can provide insight into office politics and protocol, as well as in handling difficult situations — knowledge that isn’t necessarily taught in school or during new hire orientation, but that is essential for professional success. The key is to select someone advanced enough in his or her career to offer a long-range professional perspective.

What should you avoid? Just as with any other confidant, look for a mentor who is discreet and trustworthy. Avoid those who tend to gossip or speak disparagingly of others. Instead, seek a mentor who is positive, productive and well liked. And don’t be afraid to look outside your firm. While an in-company advisor may be better versed in on-the-job protocol, a trusted mentor in another organization could offer innovative perspectives you may not get otherwise.

Swicki’s Clear Out the Web Clutter

Swicki

A swicki is a community powered search engine, tailored to produce only the targeted search results that you and your community want.

A swicki shows a buzz cloud of what is hot in your community and makes it easy to find the best content, news and info on the web.

The search results from the swicki you create are much more focused than a general search engine and they will continue to learn and adapt, anonymously and automatically, based on the search behavior of your community.

Working together, we can clear out the clutter of the web, and help each other identify sites of importance to Credit Managers. Get involved today by doing some Swicki searches and rating the search results. You can search all of CMA’s sites at once using our Swicki.

Try out the Business Credit Swicki below – or on the right side of the CMA Daily News screen.

check out the Business Credit swicki at eurekster.com

Coffee Break Spanish

Cbs

"Coffee Break Spanish
is a lifesaver for language lovers. Download lessons to your MP3 player
and listen anytime you like. There are free lessons and weekly podcasts
on the blog. Members get additional flashcards, iPod Notes, and a PDF guide. Your hosts, Mark and Kara,
make listening short and fun. Kara is learning, just like most
listeners of the podcast, which is helpful and adds depth to the
practices. What are you waiting for? "

Source: TypePad

For those of us that do not speak Spanish – these short lessons might help you break the ice with Spanish speaking customers, and collect more dinero!

Data Security Webinar from VISA

Visa_webinar

At a group meeting today Larry Convoy, CMA Account Executive, received some information about a Free Data Security Webinar that VISA will be holding.

Information from VISA’s site:

Event: CISP Top 5 Risks to Payment Applications & PABP Overview
Date and Time: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 10:00 am
Pacific Standard Time (GMT -08:00, San Francisco)
Duration: 1 hour
Description:

Visa Enterprise Risk and Compliance will be hosting a free webinar focusing on critical data security vulnerabilities and the importance of Payment Application Best Practices (PABP) in protecting the POS environment.

Click here to find out more and register.

Forget the new PC, get a second monitor

Two_monitors

Add a screen and you can get a big boost in productivity for less than $500. But be patient: The setup can be a pain.
By Jonathan Blum, FSB contributor January 18 2007: 12:04 PM EST

NEW YORK — Looking for a New Year’s productivity boost for less than $500? How about giving that tired excuse of a PC a second monitor? After testing a two-display business PC over the past few weeks, here’s what I found: Toss on a second monitor and your productivity goes up while your job strain goes down.

Two-monitor desktop computers have been the industry standard for high-end, data intensive businesses for as long as there have been … well, desktop computers. The Bloomberg financial-services data terminal, Avid video-editing system and ProTools audio software, to name a few, have all relied on two-monitor PCs.

The ViewSonic VA903b monitors are easy on the wallet and your desk, too. The Matrox ‘output doubler’ splits your monitor feed into two signals.

"Job function has a lot to do with it," says Erik Willey, director of desktop displays for ViewSonic Corp, a display maker in Walnut, Calif. "We have seen productivity improvements in the 30 percent range for dual-monitor setups in certain applications."

And while multi-monitor computing used to be pricey, getting a decent flat LCD monitor now costs less than $300 and video cards run about half that. So a second display is a real option for even the most frugal business – that is, yours.

To get a sense of the power of going two-screen, I ordered up a pair of fresh 19-inch ViewSonic VA903b’s ($250), and – in a bow to the popularity of laptops in the small enterprise – a sexy portable monitor output doubler (a device that splits the monitor feed into two signals, one for each monitor) from Matrox, the DualHead2Go ($170).

Now I must warn you: Setting up dual-monitor PCs can be a pain. Not only are you routing two monitor feeds from one computer – which by itself can devolve into a cabling linguini house party – you must master the "Display Setting" panel inside the "Appearance and Personalization" window found in the Control Panel of your PC. (You Apple users face a similar setup, but hey, Macs are supposed to be so easy to use you don’t need my help, right?) It’s not that big a deal – really, it’s not – but many otherwise intelligent people have gotten pretty darn cranky getting multi-monitors to work. So be patient.

And know your patience will be rewarded.

The effect of multi-monitors on your computing life is immediate and stunning: The second monitor extends the desktop across both screens. So your mouse – and all things controlled by it – simply flies from one monitor to other. No clicks needed.

Every task was faster and easier: While writing, I put my columns, reviews and stories on the left monitor, my research and Web links on my right. While doing my chores, Outlook was on one side and my contacts were on another. While "testing" video games like "Call of Duty" the battle was … everywhere. I mean, talk about a "New Year/New You." How great is that?

Now, can I honestly say I captured something like a 30 percent improvement in efficiency from using two monitors? Absolutely not. But – and this is a big "but" – I was less tired at the end of the day and my aging eyes and wrists appreciated the greater real estate and lower click load.

Considering the blurry value of supposed "upgrades" such as the new Microsoft (Charts) Office, increased RAM or yet another tech thingie, a second monitor is looking like a pretty darn good deal.

Source: Fortune Small Business

Yahoo offers new Web site for personal finance

Yahoo_personal_1
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Internet media company Yahoo Inc. launched on Friday a new Web site to help users manage their personal finances, with tools for building a budget or retirement plan.

The site contains nine categories for managing personal finance, from tax planning to college and education expenses, loans and real estate.

Yahoo Personal Finance, at http://finance.yahoo.com/personal-finance, will also draw on information from such publishers as CNNMoney.com, Consumer Reports and the Wall Street Journal.

The company aims to expand its advertising reach with the site, with marketers such as E*Trade Financial Corp. and IAC/InterActiveCorp’s LendingTree.com already committed to advertise there.

"Not all of our users manage an investment portfolio, but we all manage a checkbook," Yahoo Finance general manager Peggy White said in a statement. "This presents a huge opportunity for Yahoo Finance to expand beyond our core investing-focused offerings."

File Your Taxes Electronically for Free

The Internal Revenue Service today kicked off its 2007 Free File program, through which mid- and lower-income taxpayers can file their return free of charge using private-sector Web-based services.

Some 17 sites, ranging from offerings by tax software giants TurboTax and H&R Block to less prominent services such as CitizenTax.com and Average1040.com, are participating in this year’s program at launch. A few more may eventually follow, Bert DuMars, director of the IRS’s Electronic Tax Administration, told a news conference.

Click here for the full story.

Over 30 FREE Research Reports on CFO.com

CFO.com offers over 30 FREE research reports on:

  • Financial and Performance Management
  • Risk Management
  • Enterprise Effectiveness
  • The CFO, Leadership and People

Most reports are developed by product or service providers that will attempt to showcase their solution in the report. Still the reports will have value in identifying challenging issues and spoting trends for the future.

Click here to view the reports and download those you are interested in.

2007 AFP Business Outlook Survey

Financial professionals believe that the U.S. economy will grow in 2007, albeit at a modest rate. In addition, many financial professionals expect their organizations to expand their U.S.-based workforces in the coming year. While financial professionals are optimistic about business conditions, they remain concerned about volatile energy costs, the declining value of the U.S. dollar and rising health care costs.

Download the full survey results from the Association of Finance Professionals, click here.

TED Talks – Great way to Spend a Break

One of the hottest conferences of the year, TED (Technology, Education, Design) in Monterey CA sells out a year in advance.

"Each year, TED hosts some of the world’s most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience."

On you next break or lunch time, plug in those speakers and listen to a TEDtalk. Try Al Gore, Tony Robbins, Malcolm Gladwell etc.

http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/

Survey Finds Tenure In Past Jobs Important Factor In Hiring Decisions

Chronic job hoppers may bounce themselves out of consideration for future opportunities, a recent survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) suggests. Eighty-seven percent of CFOs polled said the length of time a candidate has spent with previous employers is an important factor when evaluating that person for a position with their company.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the world’s first and largest specialized financial recruitment service. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, "How important a factor is the length of time a job candidate has spent with previous employers when evaluating the applicant for a position with your company?" Their responses:

Very important

 

42%

Somewhat important

 

45%

Not important

 

10%

Don’t know/no answer

 

3%

 

 

100%

"It’s not unusual for someone to change jobs or careers multiple times during his or her lifetime, but holding too many positions in rapid succession and without signs of professional advancement can be a red flag for employers," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies®. "Hiring managers place a high value on employee loyalty, in part because it is so difficult to replace top performers."

Messmer noted that many job changes stem from a desire for greater challenge, which doesn’t always require changing employers. Professionals in this situation should look for opportunities within their own companies first, Messmer said. "Supervisors are typically receptive to matching valued staff members with assignments that allow them to expand their skills and grow."
Source: Robert Half Finance and Accounting and Accountemps

3 Ways to Say “You’re Wrong”

By Kevin Augustine from WorkPlaceLife.com

Telling someone they’re wrong can be a daunting task, especially if it’s in a work situation. That’s why at work, you very rarely hear someone flat out say "You’re wrong". On the one hand you don’t want to insult whomever you’re speaking to because at the very least you have to work with them, and they could even be your boss or your client. On the other hand, you need to get them to understand that they are incorrect or else it could cause major problems down the line. While this seems to be a "Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t" situation, there are ways to accomplish both goals. All it requires is the proper phrasing.

With that in mind, here are three phrases that I’ve used to tell someone they’re wrong, without actually having to say it:

"I see your point, however I think…" – The important part of this phrase is I see your point. Acknowledging the other person’s point of view is critical in getting them to listen to you. Even if you don’t actually see their point, you need to make them feel like you do. Once you get past that, they’ll be much more receptive to what you have to say.

"Hmm..What if we…" – This time, the Hmm is what you use to show that you’re giving their idea serious thought. It may sound silly, but a simple verbal indication such as this can go a long way. Now that you’ve shown that you are serious about their idea, you can hit them with yours using the What if we.. line. By using we, you’re including them in the solution and by using if, you’re making a suggestion and not a direct order.

"The way I’m looking at it…" – Being able to explain the reasons behind your point of view is essential to this kind of conversation. This strength of this particular phrase is that it allows you to explain your reasoning before you hit them with your idea. For example, you could say: "The way I’m looking at it, we don’t have enough trucks to make all of the deliveries by next week. What if we prioritize the deliveries and decide which ones are absolutely necessary?". This way, you have them thinking your solution out with you. They will be much more likely to go along with your idea if they come to the conclusions themselves.

These are just three of the phrases you can use. There are many more out there, it just depends on your situation. Also, you can combine some of these phrases (as shown in the last example with the What if we…) to fit where you need them. When it comes down to it, there’s always a way to tell someone they’re wrong. Sometimes it just takes a little more thought to do so.

The 55 Days of Christmas? Twelve Survival Tips!

Note from CMA Daily News: This article is not about credit, but it can help many of us who a feeling a bit overdone this time of year. Enjoy.

Did you notice the Christmas decorations going up on Halloween? Did a chill run down your spine?

The holiday season seems to be getting longer and longer and shorter. Yes, shorter. Look at the expectations this season puts on you. Fifty five days are nowhere near enough to achieve Countess MarthaRachelNigelaPaula FoodNetwork perfection. I’m not sure I’m even up to Real Simple standards. So much to do! Are your cards out? Did you shop ’til you dropped on Black Friday? Did you make wonderful decorations out of recycled materials? Have you picked the absolutely perfect gift for everyone on your list? Do you have color-coordinated wrapping paper, tags, and ribbon? Can you tie a perfect bow? When will you be having your holiday party? What will you serve? What will you wear to everyone else’s event? Do you know what to tip your hairdresser? What’s the politically correct holiday greeting? So many questions, so little time!

Holiday madness really set in when I visited a friend form Thanksgiving. She had decided that she didn’t feel up to cooking, so she ordered from her local supermarket. And then began to obsess. It wouldn’t taste good. There wouldn’t be enough. Turkey, cranberry sauce, whole wheat rolls, roasted butternut squash, mashed potatoes and a pumpkin pie clearly was not enough for five people. We added extra side dishes – home made cranberry sauce, candied chestnuts, fruit stuffing, baked onions, candied sweets, baked sweets, peas with fresh mushrooms and three more pies. Oh – and at the last minute she ran back for a turkey breast – just in case. Everything tasted great, and we all had a good time, but it really made me think about how easy it is to get caught up in holiday excess.

So – how will you have a peaceful holiday season? Here are a few simple suggestions.

1. Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice. While you’re checking, do a little reality check. Are you buying gifts for too many people? Are you planning on spending an unrealistic amount on each? Have you burdened yourself with impossible-to-find items? (No, my cousin will probably NOT get that antique fruit bowl this year.)

2. Only accept invitations that make you happy. If that means none, go for it! An unbreakable prior engagement is always a valid excuse. No one needs to know that the engagement may be with your couch.

3. Wear comfortable clothes. Always. Don’t let tight shoes or a dubious neckline spoil your fun.

4. Shop in comfortable shoes. Carry your wallet someplace easy for you to reach but hard for anyone else to get at. Don’t burden yourself down with too many packages.

5. Buy on line. Presents, dinner, cards, reservations – all just a click away.

6. If you must send packages, remember that the Postal Service will now pick up packages at your home.

7. Don’t bake unless you would go into a serious depression if deprived of the experience. If you do bake, set limits. I will never again have more containers of cookies than can fit on a fully extended kitchen table.

8. This one is for next year. Pick up interesting gifts throughout the year. If you travel, this is a great way to have truly unique gifts. Just don’t forget where you put them. Last year I gave several lovely objects I’d bought in Sicily three years ago. I’d put them in a safe place. At least they eventually surfaced.

9. Simplicity is very classy. Repeat that twenty times, then start cutting back on your plans.

10. Gift cards are a wonderful thing. Want to give the perfect gift? Not only are gift cards perfect, but you can fit them in your carry-on luggage.

11. Travel light. Carry your pills, jewelry and one-ounce containers or the liquids you need. Wear something comfortable and a bit classy so that if your luggage is lost you’re reasonably prepared.

12. Block out time on your calendar to do absolutely nothing but take care of yourself – whether that means go to a movie, meditate, get a massage, or just take a nap. Pace yourself.

Susan R. Meyer is an Executive and Life Coach and consultant specializing in helping people and organizations connect the dots and implement a plan. To do this, she draws on over twenty years experience in Coaching, Consulting and Organizational Development. Please visit her at http://www.susanrmeyer.com for more information and resources. You can also contact her at dr.susan@life-workcoach.com

Right Back at You! (You Hope)

Wondering why your boss hasn’t responded to yesterday’s urgent e-mail?  It might be because he or she hasn’t had the time.  Today’s managers typically receive dozens — or even hundreds — of messages each day. In fact, when surveyed by Robert Half International, nearly three-quarters of executives said e-mail is their primary form of communication at work. Here are some tips to make sure yours aren’t perpetually labeled “unread”:

  • Keep it short. Don’t bury your main point under a mountain of details. The more succinct your e-mail message, the more likely you’ll receive a prompt reply.
  • Use the subject line to your advantage. Avoid generic subject lines.  Instead of “Details” or “Reminder,” try “For approval: Advertising Budget Figures” instead.  A specific subject line is especially important for a time-sensitive message. 
  • Include an action step. Unless you request a response, an executive may assume you’re sending the message as an FYI.  Outline the reply you’re seeking and when you need to receive it.
  • Keep it simple. It’s easier to respond to one piece of information or action item, so don’t send your manager a laundry list of requests.
  • Don’t include confidential information. E-mail is often forwarded, so don’t put sensitive news in your message.  If you have something confidential to share with your manager, do so face to face.
  • Proofread.  Check your e-mail carefully for errors.  Typos and other mistakes rarely go unnoticed by the recipient.
  • Flag few messages as high priority. Be judicious when designating messages as high priority.  Like the boy who cried wolf, if you overuse this function, it will quickly lose its meaning.

Source: workvine.com

23 Phrases That Payses

1. I need your help. When approaching a service agent or receptionist, this opening line appeal to someone’s instinctive helpful nature. You’re likely to get a better response (and better service!) if you use this line.

2. You don’t know me, but. Be honest. Don’t pretend to be someone’s best friend. Especially on the phone, help someone know right away that you are calling as a stranger who hopes to become a friend.

3. I don’t know anybody here. Especially at an event where you don’t know anyone, use this line to disarm others’ preoccupation. It’s honest, fun, and if you pick the right person, they might reciprocate and become your frist friend!

4. I don’t know what that means. It shows that you’re listening. You’re not too proud to admit you don’t know everything. You’d like to learn more. This approachable, humble phrase also demonstrates interest in the other person.

5. I’m new here/this is my first time. Again, this appeals to someone’s helpful nature. Give them a chance to introduce you to others. Surrender yourself and they’ll usually help you out.

6. Hang on for ten seconds. Especially on the phone, this tells someone that you really will “be right back.” With the limited time each person has to talk to you on the phone, sentences like this speed it up. They will usually count, too, just to see if you really come back in 10 seconds. Remember, specificity = credibility.

7. Let me give you an example. Keeps someone engaged, helps he or she follow you and the conversation. Be sure to offer an example as support for your point.

8. Welcome in. In all situations – at a table, in a room – use these two words to show approachability and hospitality. It’s amazing how much friendlier “Welcome in!” is than “Hello!”

9. Drop me a line. This covers all mediums of communication and therefore leaves it open for someone to reach you however they prefer. It’s also appropriate phrasing for our times: casual, cool and informal.

10. You’re my hero. When someone goes out of there way to help you, this beats “Thanks!” any day.

11. Here’s what I learned. People don’t care what you know, only care what you learned. Tell them.

12. It’s my pleasure. This beats “Your Welcome” any day. Don’t believe me? Go to the Ritz. They love this phrase.

13. I’m not saying no TO YOU, I’m saying no FOR ME. Help them understand why you say no without making them feel rejected. Thanks, Jack Canfield.

14. I’m not comfortable with that. This is a good enough reason to object to anything because comfort is everything. And people won’t inquire WHY it’s not comfortable, they’ll respect your choice. You don’t have to defend it.

15. I disagree. These two words say it honestly and directly. Pause for two seconds, get their attention and then explain your point.

16. I don’t know, but I can find out. It’s OK not to know everything. But it’s also OK to tell someone that they’re question is important enough that you will go out of your way to find the answer for them.

17. So, to answer your question. After a long-winded answer, use this to keep your conversation partner on point.

18. Good answer. My friend Jeff does this and I love it. It reassures and affirms me. Almost like “my answer” was good simply because it came from me.

19. You got it. I once had a waitress in a hotel lobby that said this for everything. I don’t know why, but it made me feel great. I use it all the time. There’s just something about it.

20. Right away. People don’t have to wait. They get it now. Few service professionals use this, but it’s amazing.

21. You better believe it. A favorite of Cosmo Kramer, this shows confidence in your points and beliefs.

22. That’s just the way I do business. This phrase helps you keep it real and assures that others respect your choices.

23. I never thought of it that way. Most people are too proud and too close-minded to show openness to new ideas. This phrase compliments someone and shows lack of judgment. What’s more, it offers your willingness to hear someone out. (It’s amazing how few people say this.)

LET ME ASK YA THIS… What’s your best phrase that pays?

© 2006 All Rights Reserved.

Scott Ginsberg, aka "The Nametag Guy," is the author of three books and a professional speaker who helps people maximize approachability, become unforgettable and make a name for themselves. To book Scott for your next association meeting, conference or corporate event, contact Front Porch Productions at 314/256-1800 or email scott@hellomynameisscott.com

What Is an LLP?

A limited liability partnership (LLP) is similar to a general partnership, except the partners are not personally liable for negligent acts conducted by other partners or employees not under their supervision. This is different from a general partnership, in which each partner is liable for the debts and obligations of the business as well as the malpractice of any other partner. Income taxes in an LLP are passed through the business and reflected on the partners’ individual tax returns. Because of the limited liability of each partner and the pass-through tax status, LLPs are a very popular business structure.

To read the full story on AllBusiness.com, click here.

View Educational PowerPoints Online

Readers of CMA Daily News, you are the first to know about access to educational PowerPoints online. Using a new service called SlideShare we have set up an account to share PowerPoints used in our educational events; webinars, WRCC, seminars etc.

Most of the time the PowerPoint will not give you the whole story, it is always better to attend the event and learn first hand what the speaker wanted to get across in the slide. But if you want to preview content for an event or take another look at an event that you attended they can be invaluable.

Here is the link to anscers Slidespace page. We currently have 12 presentations online to view. ENJOY!

Preview the Place Trace Collect Webinar

Don’t miss out on the FREE Webinar with Raul and Mariet from CMA’s Collection Division. You can review the presentation below but without them pointing out the red flags and how CMA uses the Trace information you are missing the BIG picture. Make time on Monday October 30, 2006 at 9:00 am. To register log into anscers.com and click the Events tab.

For those of you reading this post on email visit the CMA Daily News site to see the presentation.

“DSO” Survey from Credit Research Foundation

The quarterly National Summary of Domestic Trade Receivables (a.k.a., the DSO Survey) is an examination of the condition of A/R for U.S. companies. This data has been collected quarterly since 1960.

National Summary of Domestic Trade Receivables Results Summary

The Credit Research Foundation conducts surveys by industry which detail relevant statistical information concerning domestic accounts receivable performance. Below is a summary of this information which would be detailed by industry segment in the full quarterly report.

Second Quarter 2006
Independent median calculations show:

This Quarter Last Quarter Year Ago
Collection Effectiveness Index 83.80 81.50 83.10
Days Sales Outstanding 40.00 41.21 41.80
Best Possible DSO 31.20 30.95 32.00
Average Days Delinquent 6.60 6.43 7.45
Per Cent Current 83.37 84.41 81.08
Per Cent Over 91 Days Past Due 1.00 0.90 1.20

Contribute to 3rd Quarter results by October 27, 2006, and get a copy of the full report.

Read how you can use this report to defend a preference.

Source: Credit Research Foundation

What’s this Swicki thing?

On the main page of CMA Daily News – over on the right hand side after the recent posts, you will now see a SWICKI.

This Swicki is designed to search all of CMA’s websites at once for the information you need. That means it combines anscers.com, creditservices.org, encyclopediaofcredit.com, anscers community and the general web all into one search and brings you back results.

Our Swicki will also display the most common searches that are being made, so you can see what other people like you are searching for. Just click one of these search phrases to start the search.

As we use this tool it will become smarter and smarter and more focused on the type of results Credit Managers are looking for.

Please feel free to bookmark the CMA Daily News page and use our Swicki as much as you need.

Bad Debt You’re Going Down!

Ptc_dnews

Knock out those bad debts using Place, Trace, Collect through CMA’s Collection Division.

  • Identify the accounts that are potential year-end bad debt write-offs.
  • Place them with CMA Collection Division.
  • CMA will Trace any skipped accounts, and look for assets on any accounts you have a judgment on.
  • CMA will collect on as many accounts as we can. Those we can not collect on you will receiving a closing report that will satisy the due diligence requirements for a write-off according to Sarbanes-Oxley.

Place, Trace, Collect is a win-win situation for you. Either you account will be collected, or you and your company will be protected by performing due diligence before claiming a write-off.

To find out more, sign up for the FREE Place, Trace, Collect webinar on anscers.com by logging in and click the EVENTS tab.

If you are ready to start placing right now, log into anscers and click the Collection tab.

Selling Bankruptcy Claims – Hot Tips

Notes from the Bankruptcy Claims Sales presentation at the Orange County Credit Professionals Group.

Speaker was Sandra A. Larratt-Smith, from Swing Bridge Capital. Sandra acts as a broker between buyers and sellers. She would be an excellent person to contact if you are approached by a vulture investor to sell your bankruptcy claim. She can ensure that you are getting the best price by finding out what is happening with other investors in the marketplace. Phone: 310-622-2929.

  • Vulture Investors are looking for internal rates of return of about 12-20%.
  • If an investor buys your bankruptcy claim the only reason you would need to pay them any money back is if your bankruptcy claim gets reduced in size. If your claim increases in size, your contract should be written to obligate the investor to buy the rest of the claim at the original cost.
  • This market has increased quite a bit in the last few years. It is now a pretty normal course of business, so don’t be scared about being approached by a buyer wanting to purchase bankruptcy claims. You have more power than you did before.
  • Investors generally focus on large bankruptcy cases regarding publicly held companies. They tend to buy claims in excess of $100,000.
  • Best time to sell, after the schedules have been filed in the bankruptcy is when the action starts happening. This tells the vulture investors who is set for payment, and who is the best risk to buy. The prices will go up after schedules are filed. If you have an administrative claim or reclaimation claim, you can expect to be paid more on the dollar than the other trade creditors.
  • There is no federal agency that regulates these vulture investors. A Trade Claims Buyers Association was set up by several of the investors as a result of some bad players in the market.
  • If you sell your claim, you should be paid within the week. The contract is not in effect until you get paid.
  • Determining price: Trade claims are usually priced at 10 to 20% less than bonds. Check the current bond trading info at sites like nasdbondinfo.com.

Improve Collection Performance

Credit professionals must constantly look for ways to improve their department’s collection skills. Here are some ideas to reduce delinquencies:

  • Make certain your credit application and as well as your invoices clearly list your terms of sale.
  • Be sure that your order entry department does not process purchase orders with incorrect terms of sale until a written amendment to the P.O. is received.
  • Pay attention to how a debtor is paying other creditors. If you are being paid on time while other creditors are not, it is unlikely your luck will last.
  • Once an account becomes seriously past due, before releasing any new orders after the debt is paid the file should be updated and a decision made about whether the customer still qualifies for open account terms.
  • Try to update each active customer’s credit file at least once a year.
  • Shorten the time between the invoice due date and the first contact by the collector to request payment.
  • Attempt to resolve disputes quickly. Always ask the customer to immediately pay the undisputed portion of outstanding invoice.

Source: Michael Dennis, author of "Credit and Collection Handbook" available at the NACM Bookstore.

5:00 pm Today Best Buy Raffle ends!

Today is the last day to enter the Best Buy Raffle. CMA Collection Division will be raffling off three (3) $100 Best Buy Gift Cards on October 17, 2006. That’s $100 worth of DVD’s, an iPod Nano, or money down on a surround sound system. The choice is yours.

Every account placed with CMA Collection Division from up to 5:00 pm PT October 16, 2006 will count as one raffle entry. You can enter as many times as you wish. The three winners will be chosen on October 17, 2006.

Download the flyer and use the Account Placement Form on the back side, or log into anscers.com and start placing those delinquent accounts.

Today is National Boss’s Day

Origin: National Boss Day was launched in 1958 by Patricia Bays Haroski, an Illinois secretary. Was she a mastermind suck-up? A person with an exceptionally wonderful boss? Or was she just a super-competent secretary whose boss added to her "to do" list: "Create national holiday in my honor"? Actually, she was an appreciative daughter who worked for her dad whose birthday was Oct. 16. That’s how National Bosses Day became the day to honor bosses.

What Makes a Good Boss?

Here are some attributes people say make for the best boss:

  • Fair
  • Honest
  • Understanding
  • Approachable
  • A good communicator

Happy Boss’s Day to all the Boss’s out there!

$100 Best Buy Gift Card Raffle – Ends Oct. 16

CMA Collection Division will be raffling off three (3) $100 Best Buy Gift Cards on October 17, 2006. That’s $100 worth of DVD’s, an iPod Nano, or money down on a surround sound system. The choice is yours.

How do you enter the $100 Best Buy Gift Card raffle?

Every account placed with CMA Collection Division from September 15, 2006 through October 16, 2006 will count as one raffle entry. You can enter as many times as you wish. The three winners will be chosen on October 17, 2006.

Download the flyer and use the Account Placement Form on the back side, or log into anscers.com and start placing those delinquent accounts.

Insta-Surveys from the Credit Research Foundation

Insta-Surveys

Take a second and answer some one question polls dealing with Best Practices for Customer Risk Management.
Click the View Results link to see the results to date for each survey.

How to Deal with an Angry Customer

In our line of work, we deal with customers who are not just upset but downright furious now and then. Seth Godin, author of many books on marketing, has some great advice on how to deal with those who would like to take your head off. Here is a highlight:

"Talk more quietly and more slowly than the person you’re talking with.
Not an exaggerated mantra, but just enough that you will be
de-escalating, not escalating."

Click through for the advice on How to Deal with an Angry Customer.

Credit Policy Checklist

(Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Credit)

A well-defined and complete credit policy includes:

1. formal organization of department
2. job description, titles, and review process
3. credit department budget guidelines
4. credit documentation required for credit file
5. methods of gathering credit information
6. time limits for credit decisions
7. established credit lines and procedure for establishing new lines
8. procedure for communicating the decision to the customer
9. procedure for communicating the decision to management
10. procedure for communicating the decision to the sales department
11. procedure for communicating the decision to operations
12. guidelines for dealing with and assisting marginal accounts
13. a collection policy that reduces borrowing cost
14. a collection policy that deals with slow-paying accounts
15. a collection policy that minimizes bad debts
16. a policy for unearned discounts/unauthorized deductions
17. a policy for the handling of disputes
18. a policy for the handling of returned and damaged merchandise
19. establishment of terms of sale
20. policies for using secured transaction for protection
21. a policy for the use of guarantees
22. guidelines for reporting to upper management

The Buck Stops… With Me?

A White Paper on Subcertification Issues from the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP).

From the white-paper:

"In Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), company CEOs and CFOs bear the responsibility for filing accurate reports alone. In reality, many companies are asking lower level employees to “subcertify” any reported information that originates in their department. One-third of the financial professionals the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) surveyed in June said they’d been asked to sign an affidavit vouching for information that ultimately appeared in their company’s financial reports. The majority of these professionals worried about the legal liability those affidavits could trigger, but just 12% said their employer advised them on how providing “subcertification” could affect them personally.

Chances are, the employer doesn’t really know. While the Security Acts of 1933 and 1934 have inspired reams of case law, no legal precedents exist to demonstrate the scope and impact of Sarbanes-Oxley. In question-and-answer format, this paper will address the specific concerns employees might have. It will also offer some important points to ponder and steps employees can take before signing on the dotted line."

Written in 2003, this white-paper from AFP still holds major value for anyone encountering SOX at their company. Download here in Adobe PDF format.

Accounts Receivable Administration

Eoc_logo_2
The sum of all customer account balances must agree with the accounts receivable control account in the general ledger. This total reflects the company’s investment in accounts receivable.

As a shipment is made, its invoice is posted to the customer account, either manually with a hand-posted system or as a byproduct of billing in an automated system. Credits and payments are also posted, so at any time the sum of the open items represents the balance due from the customer. From a credit perspective, accounts receivable administration reflects the credit parameters established for customers, along with a historical summary of the transactions that have taken place. Thus, it may involve customer identifiers, credit limits, credit agency ratings, daily shipping amounts, aging of open items, terms and a payment summary. Quantitative data for reports include number of invoices, checks, credits, discount or other terms violations, short payments and overpayments. The ledger should also contain a summary of order activity along with the impact on the balance due of any orders that have been approved or held but not yet shipped. This will provide an accurate view of the account as it looks when those orders are shipped and billed.

Provided by the anscers Encyclopedia of Credit.

Credit Policy – from EOC

Eoc_logo_1  Because credit policy concerns the company as a whole, it is usually established officially by top management. Sometimes responsibility for its formulation lies altogether with top management, but more commonly the chief credit executive and associates play an active role in its development. The heads of other interested departments may also be consulted.

Credit policy is probably most effectively implemented when all who are directly affected have some voice in its development. A credit policy assures that there will be consistency across departmental functions. It requires the endorsement of top management, preferably the board of directors.
While credit policy is the cornerstone of credit administration, there is no exclusive acceptable format.

If a credit policy is to have practical value, it must be related to a specific company, reflecting the goals that the company has set for receivables management. Every credit executive is entitled to a written policy statement from the officers of the company—one that is fully understood and accepted by sales as well as credit people. An effective credit policy permits and encourages the fullest development of the opportunities in administering credit. It can be a blueprint for action as well as a training aid for the development of credit personnel. It provides the latitude to plan departmental operations within the scope of the company policy, to create effective procedures and techniques to implement that policy, and to establish adequate controls. It can assure that there is consistency in the company’s dealings and interactions with its customers, and it provides a means of recognizing the importance of the credit function to the company.

In general, there are several key questions that should be answered when developing a credit policy.

  • What is the credit department’s mission? This also can be called a vision or purpose. It states the overall objective for the credit function.
  • What are the goals? Goals can be specifically stated, such as a quantifiable measure, or more generally as an expressed desire to achieve improvement in a specific area.
  • What are the roles and specific authorities of the credit department management and staff? This defines the boundaries of the credit function, often in terms of interactions with other departments.
  • What are the primary criteria for evaluating customer credit? This describes credit procedures in more detail, listing key aspects of the credit review and analysis processes.
  • What are the normal collection procedures? This describes the steps to be taken in customer collection activities.
  • What are the company’s terms of sale? Terms should be spelled out by major product line, with any qualifications or restrictions included.

Read more about Credit Policy in the Departmental Operations section of the Encyclopedia of Credit.

Fraudsters posing as Fifth Third Bank

Fraudsters posing as Fifth Third Bank are using phishing techniques to obtain data from Fifth Third customers. Do not respond to any emails you get requesting you to provide or verify account or user information.

Definition of phishing

(fish´ing) (n.) The act of sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information that will be used for identity theft. The e-mail directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security, and bank account numbers, that the legitimate organization already has. The Web site, however, is bogus and set up only to steal the user’s information. from the webopedia

Get on Track

Get_on_track_web_logo_1 Be there when the starting gun goes off at the 19th Annual NACM Western Region Credit Conference (WRCC), October 4-6, 2006.

Build up speed as you attend educational events designed along specific tracks; Core, Executive, Construction, Financial, and Hot Topics.

Partner for strength at the Expo and Networking events; Death by Chocolate & Rocktoberfest.

Finish strong at the closing keynote where you learn how to work smarter and leave the office
earlier.

Visit the WRCC website for more information.