My Take on Spring CreditScape (And a Big Thank You!!), by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

I attended CMA’s Spring CreditScape at the Hyatt Regency in Garden Grove on April 12. Wow, what a great conference, which featured some amazing sessions and speakers. The day started off with the incomparable Wanda Borges, Esq., who led a discussion in hot legal topics in business credit. Ms. Borges answered questions from attendees covering such topics as bankruptcy, preference and credit card surcharges, all topics that clearly hit home with the attendees. Keynote speaker Dan Goldes showed us how to use influence to increase efficiency with influence skills. His interactive session really encouraged all of us to take a step back and practice different styles of influencing people on our fellow attendees before we bring them back to our offices to use them on both our coworkers and customers. The session was educational as well as fun. Next, Kim Howard, Director of Credit Western Region for Cemex, and Wanda Borges, discussed how to automate credit applications and customer onboarding, and the legal implications of doing so. During lunch, CMA had its Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers (which was my last “official” duty as chair of CMA to preside over).

In the afternoon attendees had the opportunity to meet with the vendors to help them learn how to improve efficiencies and reduce internal costs, by using services such as credit card transaction processing, UCCs, credit reporting, customer onboarding, cash application and more. The last session for the conference was a panel discussion (Alvin Moreno, Harold Fraizer, Brian Gausman, Claudia Lozano and Rohit Patel) on implementing efficiencies in the Cash-to-Cash cycle. I personally took several pages of notes that I plan to revisit and consider implementing some of the processes in my own credit department. The event was well worth my day out of the office to learn from the experiences of other credit professionals.

As I wind up my last blog as CMA Chairperson, I have to say that I can’t believe that a year has passed since I was introducing myself to you as chair in this blog last year. Time has just zipped by. I would like to take a moment to thank the very special people on the CMA staff including Diana Escobar, Alan Dicker, Terry Campos and Juliet Churchill for all of your assistance. These people have helped me tremendously through the past three years as Treasurer, Vice-Chair and Chairperson. Also, thank you to my great Executive Committee team (Melissa Kobus, Gent Culver and Pam Craik) for being engaged, interested and available, sometimes at a moment’s notice. And last but not least a big thank you to my boss, Brett Garnett, who has supported me through this journey.

I encourage all of you to get involved in CMA at whatever level you can do, whether it’s participating in an industry credit group, attending a webinar or seminar in person, or volunteering on the CMA Board of Directors. Your participation will only make the association stronger and benefit you (and your company) at the same time.

Best wishes to you all, and thanks again for everything,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Managing Credit Risk to the “Luck of the Irish,” by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

Being a good credit professional has nothing to do with luck. A solid credit professional is one who has invested in him or herself by taking classes and/or receiving an NACM certification; attending industry credit groups; and networking. The key in all of the above activities is getting as much information as possible. An effective credit manager should always strive to learn everything they can about one’s industry and profession, networking with as many credit professionals as possible to understand industry best practices, trends and tactics they can use to make their department run more smoothly (this is another under-rated and often overlooked benefit I get out of attending Group meetings as well).

On April 12, credit professionals will have the opportunity to attend CMA’s Spring CreditScape in Garden Grove, California. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners with all levels of experience and expertise to come together to determine ways to reduce costs and create efficiencies in their credit departments. Some of the topics for the conference include:

  • The Influence Edge: Increasing Efficiency with Influence Skills
  • Where can you Increase Efficiencies in the Cash-to-Cash Cycle?
  • Creating efficiencies and cost-savings in the customer onboarding process; credit applications; credit information and portfolio management

Credit practitioners from companies such as Nestle, CED, Reliance Steel and Cemex, among others, will be talking about how they’ve seen process improvements in their businesses, and how they realized those improvements. In addition to the sessions, there will be Speed Networking: Tools to help Create Efficiency and Reduce Costs with CMA’s sponsors and a networking event so you can get to know other credit professionals, along with workshop opportunities to keep you participating in the event as a participant, not just a bystander.

I strongly encourage you to attend this CMA event as a way to increase your knowledge base so that your methods of credit management aren’t as random as trying to find a four-leaf clover in a large field. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Best regards,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Giving Thanks, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Happy November everyone! I am still trying to get used to the concept that it is Fall here in Southern California. Many days I feel like it is still just summer, extending out a few more weeks. Regardless, it’s at this time of year that I take time to think about life professionally and personally.

To do this task right, I often list out why I am thankful. I include on my list the educational opportunities that I did throughout the year which help me to do my job (this year, it was attending Credit Congress and Fall Creditscape), the personal and professional friendships I’ve been fortunate enough to have, the customers I enjoy working with, the great boss I work for and my family. I think it is extremely important to take a look at the positive.

In addition to taking a retrospective look, I try to thank those who help me. In my communications with our customers, I make sure to thank them for the opportunity to do business together. Internally, I thank those who provide me guidance, information, etc…

I am also thankful that we have CMA to help us in our professional lives. CMA is an amazing organization in all the services they offer credit professionals to help manage risk, such as getting advice on the best credit report for your organization and circumstance, filing your construction lien forms, safely facilitating the industry credit group you participate in, etc…

I encourage you to contact CMA for any questions you have regarding their services, or to try them out for the first time. They are great listeners too!

Best wishes to you for a very Happy Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful holiday, and thanks for reading.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

My Take on CMA’s Fall CreditScape Conference, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Happy Fall Everyone! I just got back from attending CMA’s Fall CreditScape in Sonoma, California. What a great experience in a beautiful setting. At the Conference, we heard from subject matter experts and practitioners. Here were some of my observations from the event.

CMA President Mike Mitchell started off the conference with a session on maximizing your CMA membership; it is so important that we all know how to get the most for the money our companies pay for us to be members. Even though Mike presents this topic as a webinar (and if you haven’t heard it, you can register for the next one here, which will take place in November), it’s always better to see things like this in person, and to hear the questions that other credit managers have about some of CMA’s products and services, prompting some to consider the approach they take towards their jobs.

The Cash-to-Cash talk led by Bob Shultz gave attendees the big picture impact we as credit managers have on our organizations and the importance in understanding the cash cycle and how we need to get involved. Following the session, Shultz moderated a panel of CFOs who explained what they were looking for from their Credit Departments, including some of the metrics and discussions they wanted to have with their own teams. After lunch, there were a couple of valuable panelist discussions of how parts of the cash cycle can be improved and “how you get to ‘yes’,” which was a discussion of how to mitigate the risky transactions that do not necessarily qualify for the credit through the usual analysis. Options discussed by the panel included using Letters of Credit, filing a UCC, taking out credit insurance, and the software and service providers whose software helps improve their credit processes.

The second day started out with a lively discussion of the collection process by Bart Frankel. Bart went through a detailed six-step process for the attendees which included many good suggestions members could take back to the office. Attendees even practiced collection calls with each other with Bart moderating (and post-event survey responses proved that nearly everyone who attended was going to implement at least one thing Bart spoke about during this session when they got back to the office).

The conference also provided a high-level of networking opportunities. During the conference, members were able to talk to third-party vendors about their respective situations and what services were available so that members could improve their internal processes. Other networking opportunities included a couple of planned activities, a speed networking event and a vendor demo marketplace. In addition, Thursday evening at the hotel was a networking event for attendees, where members were able to get to know each other during a blind wine tasting event, in addition to the great new contacts I met during the event. I felt the event was incredibly useful to me and my business, and I had a great time as well.

I strongly encourage you take advantage of educational opportunities offered by CMA and NACM. By attending conferences, participating in a webinar, attending the CMA Annual Meeting, etc… you have put yourself in a category above your competition. Stay tuned for other upcoming offerings from CMA.

Have a great October. I’ll touch base next month.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

To Place or Not to Place, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

IMG_7974efHello everyone! I was thinking about an issue recently that affects all Credit and Collections professionals, when is the right time to place an account with a collection agency. Though I won’t be talking about Shakespeare (as the title of my blog suggests), I used the reference because I find myself pondering this question very frequently, and it is at times a tough decision.

Let’s face it: the profession we work in is in many ways a grey area. Our decisions can quickly change depending on the information we receive, even one bit of information can alter our course. What can we do about it? If you haven’t already, I believe that every company should develop a procedure for placing accounts for collection. Your policy should address such issues as timing (how long does your company generally allow an account to be past due), dollar amount (does your company treat an account differently depending on the dollar amount outstanding), account status (does your company view the customer as a key account) and customer cooperation (is the customer willing, but unable or are you getting the silent treatment). If your company already has a policy regarding placing an account in collections I suggest that you review it periodically so that it accurately reflects your company’s culture. Once you have a procedure in place you have a guideline to follow.

Next we look at what information we have. We as credit managers are amazing at gathering, processing and summarizing information. Information in this situation would include: customer payment history, customer financial information (if shared), a third party report (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, etc…), your own experience in handling the customer, your CMA industry credit group experience and perhaps information from sales. We process this information and summarize it. We compare the information we have on hand to our company’s policy and then make our recommendation.

How do you decide when to put an account in collections? How long should you wait? What are things I look for before I submit to collections? We weigh the information in a department discussion, review our guidelines and then make our decision.

CMA’s collection partner AG Adjustments suggests you wait until you have exhausted your internal efforts, the customer is 60-90 days past due, they are not communicating and there are no new orders and the customer is unresponsive before placing for collections. What do you think? I’m interested in your thoughts and methodology. Please leave your comments at the bottom of this blog.

Hope you have a good September. I’ll touch base in next month.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Chairman’s Blog: Building Relationships with Customers through Customer Visits, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Greetings CMA members! I can’t believe that we are in the middle of summer. Time sure flies. For this month’s blog I wanted to talk about our customers and techniques I use to build a relationship with them. Some of our customers drive us mad, some of our customers are fabulous and some are somewhere in between. One valuable tool I use as a credit manager is the customer visit. Understanding that each of us works with a budget (both fiscal and time) that determines who we can visit, I strongly encourage you to attempt to visit as many of your customers as possible.

Depending on factors such as your industry, dollar purchase volume, your company’s risk tolerance, etc., I suggest that you make a checklist of those key customers you would like to see and why. The “why” provides the justification to management for you to be out of the office, and it also proves that you’re taking a proactive (instead of reactive) stance towards your job.

The next step is to approach your boss with the list and be prepared to discuss the “why.” I have found over the years that having that initiating a personal connection with a customer pays off in terms of obtaining financial information, and it provides a far better understanding of the customer’s business including its challenges and a relationship with a company that can directly impact your company’s performance. For example, I had a key customer contact me directly with all the pertinent information regarding the removal of a key member of its management team before it went public just so I would know what had really happened. This is the type of relationship I strive for with all our key customers. Is it practical? Perhaps not, but it is important to try. If your budget is tight and an actual visit is not possible, then I suggest that you give your contact a call to see how he/she is doing and how the company is doing. Be sure to get their e-mail address so that you can touch base periodically. Communication is truly the key to success in any business relationship.

What methods do you use to build relationships with your customers? I’d love to hear about them. Please respond to the blog below.

Have a great rest of your summer. I’ll touch base in the Fall.

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

My Greatest Takeaways from NACM Credit Congress, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Greetings everyone! As you probably know by now, I am a huge proponent of education. I feel that every little nugget that I take away helps me to be a better credit professional and add to my skill set. I’ve achieved the CCE designation, and I try to attend every CMA or NACM event that I can, schedule permitting, as all of them have offered something that I can bring back to the office and implement.

I just got back from the NACM National Credit Congress in Las Vegas and had a great experience. The conference offered a great selection of session topics such as how a credit manager can protect him or herself when selling into Latin America to cloud based solutions for the credit department. Aside from the amazing educational offerings, Credit Congress offers its members the opportunity for networking with other credit professionals from all over the country which can be invaluable. In addition to the education and networking, attendees can talk to various service providers including NACM in the conference’s Expo center to find out about services that are available to credit professionals to make our jobs better and more efficient. I truly believe that information is the key to our success and it is what sets us apart from everyone else.

From the information gained from the packed rooms of the sessions I attended, to the different service providers whom I spoke with, to the cocktail receptions I reconnected with old friends and met new ones, to the client dinners I went to, I felt that my attendance at this event helped reassure that my company’s credit operations are going in the right direction. If you haven’t attended an event like this one, CreditScape or Western Region Credit Conference, I can’t express how valuable it is to experience firsthand what other credit departments are doing to maximize efficiency.

For those who attended the event (and more than 100 CMA members did!), what were your biggest takeaways? I’d love to get your feedback.

Have a great month!

Tracy

CMA Introduces Board of Directors for 2016-2017

On May 1, 2016, CMA announced its new Board of Directors for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The Board is comprised of the following CMA members: Tracy Rosenbach, CCE (Chair), Silgan Containers LLC; Gent Culver, ICCE (Chair-Elect), IGT; Pamela Craik, CCE (Treasurer), McKesson; TJ (Tom) Nance, Walters Wholesale Electric; Joe Lucas, SRS; Hector Benitez, Equinix Inc.; Nannette Bringard, Breakthru Beverage Nevada; Matt Johnston; Tim Cratty, Jackson Enterprises; Jim Bradley, Reliance Steel Company; Sherry Raposo, VSS International Inc.; Alvin Moreno, Nestle USA Inc.; Melissa Kobus, CCE (Advisor), Anixter Inc.; Darrell Horton, CICP (Advisor), Aristocrat Technologies, Inc.; Bob Shultz (Special Advisor), Q 2 C Inc.; Chuck Schultz (Special Advisor), Interface Financial Group; and Michael Fenner, CBA (Counselor), Beacon Sales Acquisition, Inc.

 

2016 CMA Board of Directors

We wish to congratulate these super volunteers and thank them for their service to the CMA members and the credit management industry.

CMA Chairman’s Blog: My Outgoing Message, by Michael Fenner, CBA

 

What a year it has been and I can’t believe how fast the time went by…

I was so happy to see the turnout to CMA’s Spring CreditScape this past week. Thank you to those people who were able to attend. If you weren’t able to make it in March, please make sure you attend the Fall CreditScape as I believe it will be worth your time.

I have been truly honored and humbled to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors this last year for CMA. I would like to personally say “thank you” to the following people…Mike Mitchell, Kim Lamberty of CMA for their trust and guidance. To Tracy Rosenbach, Jim Morrow, Melissa Kobus the Executive Team, thank you for your leadership and support this last year…it was really appreciated. And to the rest of the Board Members, I would like to show my sincere gratitude for your endless efforts, your committee service, and your ideas presented last year. Thank you!

And last but not least…all of the CMA employees for their support to the Board throughout our service.

I would like to take a minute and point out some of CMA’s accomplishments over the past year:

  1. CMA launched the Fall and Spring CreditScapes – Which focused on a 360-degree look at one particular topic to give it a much more interactive and more focused educational program.
  2. CMA launched the Supplier Risk Group – Which looks at how to evaluate your suppliers to help you manage a different type of risk, one that could be more important that if any one customer doesn’t pay.
  3. The Construction Credit Report was launched as a partnership with Ansonia Credit Data. The report provides information needed to make decisions based on a construction project.
  4. CMA Adjustments (formerly CMA Adjustment Bureau) – received new branding and a new logo to better portray its 133 years in business.
  5. CMA recently moved its offices from Burbank to Glendale, modernizing its workspace.
  6. New Designees earned over last year: 5 CBAs, 1 CBF, and 2 CCEs.

It’s been really exciting to help move our Credit Association forward in a positive direction this year. Please continue to support CMA and our incoming Chair Tracy Rosenbach to increase our membership, improve existing services, add new services, and help CMA continue to be the best Association we all deserve. Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback.

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

CMA Chairman’s Blog: Advancing your Career through CMA by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Year after year, as we go through our careers, we are always looking for ways to improve ourselves and advance in our professions. I know for me, I got complacent with my job and quite frankly I didn’t know where to go and or who to turn to. My luck changed when I ran into Mike Mitchell, CAE President of CMA at the Las Vegas airport in 2008 after attending a Western Region Credit Conference. I mentioned to him that I was looking for more in my career and he said to me, “You are already being considered.” I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that at that moment, but shortly thereafter I received a phone call to join CMA’s Board of Directors. I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to volunteer and help our association, understand more about how a business works, as well as work with my peers from all different companies and credit backgrounds. The rest is history…

Let’s take a look at some of the platforms that have assisted me through my career:

  • Professional Credit Certification – It’s never too late to get your designation or move to the next level. Here are the available designations.
    • Certified Credit and Risk Analyst (CCRA) – For analysis and interpretation of financial statements.
    • Credit Business Associate (CBA) – This includes three credit courses basic financial accounting, business credit principles and introduction to financial statement analysis.
    • Credit Business Fellow (CBF) – The lessons include business law and credit law.
    • Certified Credit Executive (CCE) – You must be proficient at accounting, finance, domestic and international credit concepts, management and law.
    • Professional Development Programs – CMA offers a variety of courses in person and online. The anscers.com website (on the education tab) is constantly being updated with the latest information for all of us. As an example some of our options today include (but not limited to) the Spring and Fall CreditScape Summits, NACM’s annual Credit Congress, numerous lien law seminars in many states, a course on alternative for financing the sale of goods, and credit risk and risk mitigation techniques. Please go check them out and see which one can assist you in your career.
  • Board and Committee Service – By volunteering my time on the CMA Board of Directors and serving on board committees it has allowed me to grow as a person and become a more of a diverse credit manager and move up in my career. I have been able to make lifelong friends as well as expand my credit knowledge to move forward in my field just by participating in discussions and working with my associates.
  • Industry Credit Groups (ICG’s) – My ICG helped assist me in my credit decision process to run a more thorough credit department. Currently we have 60 diverse groups. They network with each other, share factual information timely, and you get responses promptly from your group members so you can make educated decisions with your new accounts and or your current A/R. Feel free to contact Diana Escobar directly at (818) 972-5342 for more information about groups that pertain to your industry.

We all know how important it is to stay up-to-date with our education. And finding the time to go to events or take classes can be a challenge. Things won’t change unless we change them. Invest in yourself and your teams, and challenge them to improve and grow.

Make sure you encourage your teams to support CMA which is your association. It is important to always network with your colleagues and make some new friends as you go through this process. Make sure you always bring back your experiences to incorporate them 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 Manager of Corporate Credit Operations for Beacon Roofing Supply, Inc. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Why You Need to Attend the CreditScape Spring Summit, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Now that we have all made our “New Years resolutions,” make sure you don’t drop the ball on your professional goals. Maybe you would like to improve your own personal skill set in your organization. Or perhaps you want your team to get up-to-date with the latest credit training / information in the market place. For me, as I move through this New Year, I look at budget planning and ideas on how to improve our credit department. I urge you to please take some time to review the latest CMA CreditScape Spring Summit information. By attending the two days of workshop training, I believe that it will propel you and your department to the next level.

What will be covered this spring…“The Efficient Digital Credit Department”.

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 departments.
  • The discussions are led by practitioners, not marketing people – Get a 360-degree look into the elements of an efficient digital credit department, focusing on best practices and real-world case studies with the best and brightest practitioners in credit and collections, including top credit executives from companies such as Sony Entertainment, Sysco Foods, Ganahl Lumber, Kendall-Jackson, Walters Wholesale, UTA/United TranzActions, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Watsco.
  • Focusing on your Departments Efficiencies – Such as why should your department go digital…You’ve decided to “Go Digital” Now What?…Automating your customer onboarding process…Vetting your customers…Automating your A/R management processes…International resources and government automation tools……Using third-party vendors to create efficiencies…and emerging technologies impacting the credit department to name a few.
  • Convenient Location – This will be in Southern California this spring at The Island Hotel Newport Beach saving costs for those of us who live locally.

The event information is as follows:

Date: March 24-25, 2016
Location: The Island Hotel Newport Beach 690 Newport Center Drive Newport Beach, CA 92660 ($189 a night)
Cost: $495 for CMA members and $595 for non-members
Registration: 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.

Additionally, CMA has a prewritten “letter to your boss” to help you show the value of the event. To get a copy, go to http://creditmanagementassociation.org/events/creditscape/cma-annual-meeting-letter-to-your-boss/

Please take a few minutes to read through the program highlights to answer all of your questions on the CreditScape Spring Summit 2016 brochure located at http://creditmanagementassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/creditscape-brochure-spring-2016.pdf

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 Manager of Corporate Credit Operations for Beacon Roofing Supply. He can be reached at 714-321-8187, or mfenner@becn.com.

Chairman’s Blog: Credit New Year’s Resolutions, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Yes, it’s that time of year again and it’s hard to believe another year has passed us by. I hope everyone enjoyed spending time with their families and relatives over the holiday season. As we start 2016, everyone always asks “Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?” Or “What are your New Year’s resolutions this year?” As I write this blog, I am thinking about what my personal and professional resolutions will be this year. Let me take a minute or two and suggest a few resolutions you could include with yours.

If each one of us could include a resolution or two about CMA we could make this association stronger for all of us. As you read through the suggestions, hopefully you will find some to help you get started. It’s important to have the backing and support of Credit Management Association for your credit department as well as your company and I appreciate you taking the time to read though the following. Enjoy and “Happy New Year!”

  • CMA / AGA Collections – Maybe your current collection agency isn’t producing the results you are expecting…give CMA / AGA an opportunity they offer nationwide service, reasonable rates, excellent communication and they collect the money too.
  • Construction Forms Filing Services (CFFS) – Have you outgrown your current provider and need to try something new? You can always try CFFS…CMA has accurate, personal, and cost-effective construction forms filing in all 50 states, and has access to a network of attorneys and resources to help fulfill all of your construction needs.
  • Professional Development – Are you looking to update your skills? CMA has quite a few options from the CreditScape Spring and Fall Summits, to online courses, live and recorded webinars, and the courses available to get your Professional Credit Certification all in one place.
  • Industry Credit Groups (ICG) – Please take some time and experience the ICG’s CMA has to offer. We participate and always come away with some useful information. CMA’s 60 current groups network and share factual information, and provide you with responses promptly from other group members so you can then make more educated decisions with your new accounts and or your current A/R for companies within your own vertical industry who share the same customers as your company does.
  • Business Credit Reports – Maybe you already have contracts with a provider or two…sometimes you are looking for supplementary information to help you with your business decisions. Or maybe you are unsure if your current data provider is giving you as much information as there is available. CMA offers the anscersX multi-bureau commercial credit report, NACM National Trade Credit Report, as well as DNBi, Equifax and Experian. Additionally, they offer consumer reports and international reports as well. It gives you the opportunity to purchase on a report by report basis.

Maybe it’s as simple as just wanting to learn more about what CMA has to offer. If you go to www.anscers.com click on the education tab and you can join a “free” webinar called “Maximize your Membership” scheduled on February 17th from 9:00 am to 10:00 am hosted by Michael Mitchell, President and CEO of Credit Management Association. Check it out!

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.

CMA Chairman’s Blog: ‘Tis the Season for Giving Back: Why You Should Volunteer With CMA, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors
Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors

I hope everyone enjoyed their time away from the daily grind and that you were able to be with your family this Thanksgiving season. As I write this blog, I was thinking that we all like to give around the holidays, to our families, friends, the community etc. In 2007, Credit Management Association awarded me with a scholarship to attend the Western Region Credit Conference. I was very grateful for the opportunity as it really helped my career. And for that very reason I wanted to give back to CMA. Ironically, I ran into Michael Mitchell, CMA President and CEO at the airport after that conference and told him I wanted to “give back” to the association and the rest is history. I was nominated to the Board of Directors and I have served on the committees listed below to help make our association better for you.

I wanted to share a few bullet points today so you too can consider ways that you can give back and make your association a stronger, better organization for all of us. Please take a few minutes to read below and if you are interested in helping out just let me know. I would be happy to point you in the right direction. I appreciate your time and consideration.

  • CMA Board of Directors – The board meets five times a year and determines the policies and direction of the Association. The Board is responsible for monitoring progress towards the achievement of the strategic and operating objectives of the Association. This has been a very educational experience as you work with credit managers from different types of companies. It’s both challenging and rewarding as you go through the process.
  • Membership Committee – This team focuses on membership issues such as member benefits, acquisition and retention, as well as member engagement, and member categories. This group is interesting and stimulating, they help members understand the “value” of their memberships.
  • Professional Development – This is the committee that sets the direction of the educational courses, seminars and webinars that CMA offers. As an example, they work on the Spring and Fall CreditScape sessions that feature roundtable experiences taught by veteran credit professionals. These meetings are taught at an advanced and high level. Discussions include business issues, best practices and tips on valuable resources.
  • Honors and Awards Committee – This committee focuses on member recognition, with a primary responsibility of selecting members for CMA’s annual awards as well as nominating members for NACM’s National awards. There is nothing more gratifying than nominating your peers who have worked so hard in the industry.
  • Nominating Committee – This group selects nominees for the Treasurer and other Director positions available for election for the year. This committee assists in the review of candidates, through systems and checklists. Another opportunity to select outstanding peers in the credit community.

What can you do to help your credit association? Please reach out as we are always looking for talented people to be nominated and share their experiences through their leadership and volunteer work.

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. Thank you for taking time to read my blog.

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.

Fraud Tips – Don’t be a target this season, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Wow…it’s hard to believe the holidays are just around the corner. We all know this time of the year we need to be more vigilant in regard to protecting our assets. I wanted to take a few minutes and list some bullet points to think about so you can share with your teams. I don’t have all of the answers so feel free to share your experience as well. You know if we close any potential loop holes now we will save our companies some money and hopefully minimize any possible theft this holiday season. Let’s make sure we all review our credit policies with our team members today.

Below are some tips about accepting checks and or credit cards:

  • Know your customer. – Have you dealt with this person before? If not, it might be a sign.
  • Avoid taking credit card payments over the phone from customers you don’t know. – It’s hard to verify the identity of the person on the phone. Have them come in to verify them and swipe the card.
  • The customer won’t show their ID. – Call the company number on the check to verify the person, call the bank to see if the account is open or closed. Chances are something will come out of the additional questions you are asking.
  • Is the driver’s license preprinted on the check or prewritten on the check already? – Still take the time to review and verify the customer’s identification. They could be trying to slip one by you.
  • Is a rental truck picking up the material? – Notify your yard personnel to keep an eye out for customers loading material into rental trucks. This is a very common sign.
  • Are they not from your area? – Is there ID from San Diego but they are purchasing from you in Los Angeles? They may have a job in your area but keep an eye out for this one.
  • How is the customer acting, are they nervous? – Are they avoiding eye contact, are they acting suspicious, being pushy after a very simple request?
  • Does the e-mail address match up with the company name? – Double check to see if the e-mail address matches up with the information on the check and or credit card authorization form.
  • An out of the area phone number. – Do they have an area code that isn’t from your area. Take a second look and confirm.
  • If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. – We all have that gut feeling at times. Have your teams contact your credit department if they are feeling uncomfortable.
  • Did I mention know your customer? – Always make sure you know who you are dealing with.

Fraud can hit us many different ways, but it always bites us. They are always persistent and unyielding and it doesn’t matter where you are from New York to California. At times they are highly organized and very sophisticated. And other times they are by themselves looking for an easy target. Don’t be an easy target. As always keep your eyes and ears open.

Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to read my 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.

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.

Does your credit department need a Tune-up? By Michael W. Fenner, CBA

As August winds down and your teams are returning from their summer vacations hopefully, things are returning back to normal. This may now give you the opportunity to review the services you currently use in your credit departments today.

As our vehicles need tune-ups so do our credit departments from time to time. As an example, are you taking advantage of your industry credit group (ICG)? Is there not a specific ICG for you and you would like to start one? Is your current collection agency “getting it done for you”? Do you have the need to file preliminary notices in your industry? Would you like to get started and or continue on with your professional credit certification? How about adding an additional credit report to your credit approval process? What can the business insolvency service do for you? Do you even know CMA offers payment services and deduction management? You may be looking for an association to do it all for you, replace an existing service and or supplement the current services you use today. Either way Credit Management Association is here for YOU!

Below is a quick look at what Credit Management Association has to offer:

  • Industry Credit Groups – With 60 current groups’ network and share factual information timely and get responses promptly with other group members so you can make educated decisions with your new accounts and or your current A/R.
  • Business Insolvency – Let CMA help your customers with other alternatives other than filing for bankruptcy with less publicity, cost and time.
  • AGA Collections – AGA offers nationwide service, reasonable rates, excellent communication and they collect the money too.
  • Business Credit Reports – They offer the AnscersX commercial report, NACM national trade report, as well as DNBi, Equifax and Experian. Additionally, they offer consumer reports and international reports as well.
  • Construction Forms Filing – Accurate and cost effective construction forms filing in all 50 states.
  • Education (Professional Development) – quite a few options from the CreditScape fall summit, online courses, live and recorded webinars, and the ability to get your Professional Credit Certification all in one place.
  • Payment Services – Through United TranzActions…check guarantee, ACH processing (including Canada), online bill pay, credit card merchant services, virtual lockbox and more.
  • Deduction Management – With IBA Solutions expertise they will be able to assist you with your deduction and A/R management.

Add the Anscers website to stay on top of all of your services and now have it all. You can’t go wrong. Please take a few minutes to logon to the CMA website to see all that is available to you http://creditmanagementassociation.org/ look under the services tab to get details for the bullet points above.

Please remember we need you to support “your” credit association when you can and as always “thank you” for your support and 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.

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.

Chairman’s Blog: What’s Your Personality Style (and How it Can Help Relationships)? By Michael W. Fenner, CBA

After having dialogue with a customer, have you ever thought, “Wow…wasn’t that a great conversation?” Have you ever hung up the phone and said, “She was so nice.” And maybe you have said, “We really, really get along.” Or on the contrary, how many times have you said, “What did I say to irritate that customer?” Have you ever thought, “Why were they so upset?” Did you ever get off a call and say, “What just happened?” It’s happened to all of us. For me, when it does, I try to figure out a way to manage it.

Once I understand personality styles (and am able to conform to that customer’s style), I have been able to improve my relationships and enhance all conversations.

Here are the four personality styles:

  • Analytical – They think it through, they are detail oriented and love spreadsheets.
  • Amiable – They have “feelings” they are very low key and have good friendships.
  • Driver – They tell it like it is, it’s their way or the highway and they are in charge.
  • Expressive – They just want to have fun, talk about what happened last weekend and you always know where the next party is.

Here are several steps I went through that helped me have better conversations.

First, I figured out my own “personality style.” Once I did that it made the next steps easier. Take a look at the styles above and ask yourself “what’s your style?”

Second, take a minute before you make your next phone call and/or before you go in to visit your next customer and figure out what their personality style is.

Third, conform to their style. Yes, imitate it. It’s that simple. If an analytical person wants detail, give it to them in a spreadsheet or aging etc. Make sure you slow down and be very mellow with an amiable person (don’t make them mad). For the expressive person, have fun with them talk through everything they want to then get to your point and exit. With the driver, make sure you are as tough with him as he will be with you…he will think it was a great conversation.

I’m sure the times you got along with someone you conformed to their style and you didn’t even know it. And the times you didn’t get along, guess what…you probably didn’t conform to their style.

So what’s your style? Think about it on your next few phone calls and customer visits. See if it makes a difference or better conversation. Let me know your thoughts. Have fun with it. 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.

Are You an Engaged CMA Member?, by Michael W. Fenner, CBA

Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors
Michael Fenner, CMA Chairman of the Board of Directors

Here at CMA we are always looking for engaged volunteers; you know, new people, fresh ideas etc. who can help further the credit management profession. Are you wanting to make a difference? It is so important for each and every one of us to support our association. Without members like you and I it just wouldn’t work. So if you are interested in getting involved please contact me directly. I would be happy to point you in the right direction.

Are you supporting the services offered at CMA such as Industry Credit Groups, RFIs, Education, AG Collections, Construction Forms Filing, or maybe Business Credit Reports? Use as many as you can to support and protect your credit departments. What is your department lacking? Where do you need extra support? Make sure you reach out to the CMA staff or me if you have any questions or needs. We are always here to support you.

And when I’m talking about engagement, I’m talking about doing the little things: attending credit education opportunities and introducing yourself to other credit managers; submitting RFIs and subjects for your industry group meetings; regular active participation in your industry credit group; and the list goes on and on.

Here’s an idea let’s all try to bring one new person to your Industry Credit Group this year…wouldn’t that make a difference? Remember, please make sure each and every one of you reach out and support when and where you can this year. It’s up to us and we can all make a difference.

What a wonderful opportunity to serve as your chairman on Credit Management Association’s Board of Directors this coming year. On a personal note, I am truly honored and humbled for the chance to help make a difference for the CMA organization. I am also appreciative that my company supports me in this role at Credit Management Association. Have you thanked your boss lately for their support? I know that I have.

Again, thank you all for this wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to doing great things with you this year.

Michael 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.

Proud to be a CMA Member, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

I am honored to have served as the CMA Chairman of the Board for the last year and as my chairmanship ends this month, I would like to share my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the membership. It was a great privilege to serve on behalf of the entire membership. My goal was to provide guidance, insight and enthusiasm to the membership and to the credit industry as a whole. I am proud to be an active volunteer for CMA.

Sharing ideas and processes are important to me and I very much enjoyed creating my Chairman chat every month. I hope that you found little tidbits of information that you could use in your every day credit life. I believe in learning every day and hope this contributed to you learning something new. Education will always be a personal top goal. Learning is power!

As I complete my service, I challenge you to get involved with your association. CMA gets bigger and stronger when its members give back and are engaged. Look to volunteer on a committee, participate in your industry credit group or attend a networking function. Share your ideas and best practices. Quite frankly, this week is the CMA Annual Meeting, if you are not already registered, do so today. It will be the best $99 you will spend for an entire day of learning and networking. Please connect with me at the annual meeting; I really cannot wait to have a little “Credit Paradise”!

I appreciate your time in reading these posts. If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to email or call me. Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Chairman of the Board.

The Year End is Coming – What is the Credit Professional To Do?, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

As a credit manager, I am not sure there is any time of the year that is “slow” for me, especially not year-end.  There is always an account that needs attention, money needing to be collected, training that needs to occur, etc.  However, as we roll into the last quarter of the year, I will take a few moments to identify some action items to ensure that we will meet our goals for the year.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

I know that 80% of our receivables base is made up of 20% of our customers.  I will review these accounts for any special items that could delay our payments coming in as they need to.  I will check with the sales team to see if their purchases will be ramping up for the end of the year so that the credit limit is in place.  I might make a customer visit to strengthen the relationship with my Company, expressing my appreciation for their continued support and to verify payment expectations for the year end.

It is house-cleaning time, or better yet account-cleaning time, my team and I will spend some time to ensure that our account disputes are being resolved for the year end.  We will scrub and clear as many disputes as we possibly can.  We will engage the sales team early in the quarter to give them plenty of time to address the issue.  I might even pull one credit analyst to spearhead this activity, and let them focus on only this activity.

I also take time throughout the last quarter to remind my team how important they are to me.  They have worked hard all year and I am asking them to make the push to close the year strong.  I want to keep them motivated and happy; I might take them out to lunch, for a cocktail after hours, or maybe let them leave an hour early on a Friday to miss the traffic.  I appreciate their efforts and recognize that as a team we are successful.  The recognition really is all year long but the last quarter can be more stressful than the others.

The year end is coming, sooner than we all probably would like.  It is a good time to reflect on areas of opportunity, and lead the team to the finish line!  What are some of the opportunities you look to as the end of the year approaches?

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

Growing Your Knowledge Base, by Melissa Kobus, CCE

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com
Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

More than 15 years ago, I decided to invest in my future (and my company’s as well) by taking the first steps into gaining my professional designation, signing up for NACM’s Business Credit Principles class. It was a great class.  I had a wonderful instructor who brought a lot of different experiences to us.  One of my fellow industry credit group members held the class in their conference room.  There were 8 students and we all passed.  This class started me on my path to my CCE.

This class also helped me build a network of contacts that I still keep in touch with today.  Every course that I have participated in has other credit professionals just like me who are willing to share.  They may not be in my industry, they may be new or very experienced but we all have one thing in common, we all have the common goal of building a better credit world.

During my service on the CMA Board, I have not been shy about expressing my strong support of the education arm of CMA and NACM.   I believe every credit professional benefits from learning.  Whether it is a seminar, webinar or a certification class, every member should further their education, especially considering how fast the credit world is changing.

Why have you not taken advantage of the NACM / CMA Education?  Did you know that it only takes 3 classes and passing one test to achieve your Credit Business Associate (CBA)?  It is easy, there is a button for that, right?  You need to dedicate time, it is a commitment but the rewards are endless.  As a credit manager with direct reports, I have encouraged my team to get their designations, and I prefer to hire credit managers who have theirs over ones who don’t.

I encourage you to take that first step on the road of growth, the road of certification, become a CBA or take that next seminar or webinar.  I am confident you will not be disappointed with the outcome.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chair and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com

 

Chair’s Message: How to Spot Fraud, by Melissa Kobus

In today’s connected world, fraud is an epidemic that can hurt any company, big or small, and it’s becoming more common.

In my company, we recently were hit with some large fraud both with “phony” PO’s and stolen credit cards.  As credit managers, make sure that you are diligent about watching for the red flags so that we can stop these before we take a hit.  If something does not smell right, look right, etc. – ASK your credit analyst and investigate further.

Please pay attention to the following details when accepting orders (on terms or credit cards):

  • No contact except via email
  • Phone number is from outside the area or linked to Magic Jack phone
  • Urgency of getting a quote or in shipping material (must have it air freight today)
  • Email address is outside the normal address (gmail and yahoo too)
  • Reluctance to complete online forms
  • Typos and misprints on pre-printed information
  • Material type and quantity is out of the ordinary (hard drives, projectors, testers, etc)
  • Material has a high copper content and seems out of the ordinary for a credit card purchase
  • Shipment going to a different location or a location outside of their territory  (Use google earth to research ship-to address)
  • Shipment made close to a border town
  • Credit card number and name does not match the way the account is setup

Our best defense against fraud is a strong front line, so please make sure to keep your eyes open and ask questions, make phone calls, do the research.  We can continue to stop these thieves from hitting your company.

It is important to make sure everyone on your team gets this information.

What measures are your companies taking to prevent fraud? We welcome your feedback.

Melissa Kobus, CCE, is the Credit Management Association Chairman and Regional Credit Manager for Anixter Inc., based in Anaheim, CA. She can be reached at 714-695-2219, or melissa.kobus@anixter.com