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

Jackson Family Wines Honored With CMA Member Company of the Year Designation

Tim Cratty accepts CMA Member Company of the Year Award for Jackson Family Wines

It is important for our member companies to participate and allow their employees time to be engaged. CMA membership thrives on participation and it is a struggle to find the balance between company goals and our own personal goals. Giving to the association makes the association stronger. This year, CMA wishes to recognize a member company who lets their credit professionals engage in various credit activities, shares their best practices so others can learn and allows their Customer Financial Services Manager to serve on the board. They are frequent attendees at CMA education events and Group meetings, and are generally engaged in the events of the association for the good of itself, its employees and other CMA members. Congratulations to 2017 CMA Member Company of the Year Jackson Family Wines.

The CMA Member Company of the Year Award was presented during the Annual Meeting portion of the CreditScape Spring Summit in Garden Grove, CA on April 12.

Mark Speiser Presented With CMA Credit Executive of the Year

Congratulations to Mark Speiser of Unified Grocers, who was presented with the 2017 CMA Credit Executive of the Year award. This award is given to the credit professional who is a well-respected leader not only within his organization but throughout credit. Speiser is a team player who works hard every day to ensure the credit group succeeds in reaching their corporate and personal goals. He has implemented a number of different programs to improve processes and results. He is an active member in the National Food Service Group and Food, Hotel and Restaurant Group, where he regularly leads discussions to help his fellow credit professionals. He has been in credit for over 23 years, 17 of which have been in credit management.

Speiser is also new to the CMA Board of Directors.

The CMA Credit Executive of the Year Award was presented during the Annual Meeting portion of the CreditScape Spring Summit in Garden Grove, CA on April 12.

Harminder Dhesi Named 2017 CMA Student of the Year

Melissa Kobus presents Harminder Dhesi of Jackson Family Wines with 2017 CMA Student of the Year

Harminder Dhesi of Jackson Family Wines was presented with the CMA Student of the Year award at CreditScape. Harminder is working very hard to strengthen his knowledge and expertise in the credit field, as he has started on the course for his certification and has taken 2 of 3 the classes needed to test for the CBA. He also has served as Chair and Vice-chair for his industry credit group, and is actively involved with CMA. His managers and co-workers find him a pleasure to work with and appreciate his proverbial “thirst” for knowledge.

Congratulations to Harminder!

The CMA Student of the Year Award was presented during the Annual Meeting portion of the CreditScape Spring Summit in Garden Grove, CA on April 12.

CreditScape Spring Summit Helps Identify Ways to Create Efficiency in Credit

The CreditScape Spring Summit, Powered by United TranzActions, an interactive learning seminar and workshop took place April 12 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County. The event helped uncover areas in a company’s credit operations where they could improve efficiency, providing attendees with dozens of ideas to bring back to the office, according to preliminary survey results that were tabulated after the event.

With the common theme of “creating efficiency and reducing costs in the credit department,” attendees commented that the sessions gave them insights on the latest in legal issues affecting the credit department, improving efficiency in new customer onboarding, efficiency in the cash-to-cash cycle, plus services that could help companies realize these efficiencies. Also a hit were the panel discussions where attendees heard from their peers how they have successfully implemented these processes.

Additionally, for the attendees overwhelmingly said they’d recommend CreditScape to a colleague.

Here are some photos from the event:

Plans are forthcoming for CMA’s next CreditScape, which will take place next Spring at the same venue in Garden Grove, CA, April 4-5, 2018. More details will be announced as soon as possible.

Thanks again to our event sponsors United TranzActions, HighRadius, CreditPoint Software, Bectran, Credit 2 B, IAB, Ansonia Credit Data, AG Adjustments, NCS, Dun & Bradstreet, Skyminder and Esker, and to all who attended the event!

Thanks to CreditScape Spring Sponsors!

 

CMA wishes to recognize our event sponsors for CreditScape. Without their help, this event would not have been possible.

Thanks to these leading companies in the credit community.

 

AGA Adjustments
Contact: Sam Fensterstock
www.agaltd.com
888-496-1600
Services: Commercial Collections

Ansonia Credit Data
Contact: Bill Weiss, Kathleen Dasal
www.AnsoniaCreditData.com
855-ANSONIA (267-6642)
Services: Portfolio Monitoring, Credit Reports

Bectran
Contact: Eric Lee
www.bectran.com
888-791-6620
Services: Online Credit Applications, Document Management

Credit2B
Contact: Joe Chin
www.credit2b.com
212-279-3300
Services: Customer Onboarding, Risk Protection, Analytics, Benchmarks

CreditPoint Software
Contact: Charlie Pilkington
https://creditpointsoftware.com
918-376-9440
Services: Credit Risk Analysis Software, Online Credit Applications, Commercial Collections Software

Dade Systems
Contact: Bill Zayas
www.dadesystems.com
855-418-2786
Services: Virtual Payment Processing Solutions

Dun & Bradstreet
Contact: Bob O’Brien
www.dnb.com
973-921-6370
Services: Credit Reports

Esker
Contact: Dan Caple
www.esker.com
800-368-5283
Services: Accounts Receivable Software

HighRadius
Contact: Sally Huynh
www.highradius.com
281-968-4473
Services: Accounts Receivable Software

IAB
Contact: Diana Crowe
www.iabllc.com
630-537-0840
Services: Deduction Management Services

NCS
Contact: Jerry Bailey
www.ncscredit.com
800-826-5256
Services: UCC Filing Services

Skyminder
Contact: Mike Lindenmuth
www.skyminder.com
813-636-0981
Services: International Credit Reports

United TranzActions
Contact: Michael Williams, Dean Middleton
www.UnitedTranzActions.com
800-858-5256
Services: Payment Processing, Credit Card
Processing, Virtual Lockbox

Vantiv
Contact: Matt Fluegge
www.vantiv.com
608-834-2539
Services: Payment Services

Spring CreditScape Panelists Announced

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Panelists from leading companies such as Nestle USA, Consolidated Electrical Distributors (CED), Velocity Vehicles, Reliance Steel, Cemex and ResMed will take part in the discussion at CreditScape about how to create efficiency and reduce costs in the credit department.

A complete schedule of sessions and workshops for the CreditScape Spring Summit has also been posted. Keynote speaker Dan Goldes will present “The Influence Edge: Increasing Efficiency with Influence Skills” in an interactive keynote workshop at CreditScape, April 12, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Garden Grove, CA.

Bankruptcy expert Wanda Borges, esq., will talk about electronic credit applications during the panel discussions, while Alvin Moreno of Nestle will discuss the elements of a lean office that he’s brought into his company to help make his credit operations run more efficiently. Other panels and the return of CMA’s popular “Speed Networking” event will also take place at CreditScape.

The CreditScape Spring Summit, powered by United TranzActions, features one packed day of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals, designed to give you insight on areas where you can make improvements in your company’s credit operations.

To view the complete schedule, click here.

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

How Accepting Credit Cards Can Make Your Credit Department More Efficient, by Michael Williams

For personal finance, credit cards are clearly the preferred payment method for most every qualified consumer. However, in the B2B marketplace, many companies have either limited acceptance or even shied completely away from accepting credit cards due to high service fees and integration costs. Even with the relatively high cost of processing, credit cards do offer some advantages to your company that will help bring efficiency and shift risk to the credit card company. How can your company gain efficiency by accepting credit cards and what’s in it for you?

  • LOWER YOUR CREDIT CARD OVERALL COSTS: Credit and treasury managers must understand all the options available for price reduction and how to make sure that you are both minimizing risk and taking advantage of every available option.
  • RECOUP YOUR CREDIT CARD FEES THROUGH SURCHARGE AND CONVENIENCE FEES: The Network Surcharge Rules are loaded with twists and variables, so it is imperative to have qualified individuals to guide you through that minefield.
  • ELIMINATE CREDIT CARD FEES WITH A CREDIT CARD ALTERNATIVE: There is a viable alternative to credit cards which has proven its value time and again over the years. This alternative is one third the cost of a credit card and a much more secure transaction with no chargebacks.

As an exclusive NACM partner for over 20 years, United TranzActions has been successful in advising members on how to process credit cards more efficiently, how to save dollars, and how to maximize the value of their use of their credit card usage. UTA will be one of the featured companies attending the upcoming CreditScape Summit, powered by UTA, in Garden Grove, California on April 12, 2017. More information on the conference is available at www.CreditScapeConference.com. I’d love to speak with you at CreditScape and see how we might help you in the credit card arena. And if you are unable to make it, feel free to reach out to me anytime for any advice on your payment processing needs.

Michael Williams is VP NACM Relations at United TranzActions. He can be reached at 305-606-6703, or mwilliams@unitedtranzactions.com

How to Use Influence Skills to Increase Efficiency and Gets Results, by Dan Goldes

How do you move people to action in order to increase efficiency? How do you get results from others without destroying relationships? These are burning questions in most organizations.

One thing is clear: the ability to influence people is not something you must be born with, but something you can learn.

Think about the best influencers in your life: clients, or people you’ve worked for, worked with, or even supervised. What made them great influencers? Was it their ability to ask questions and really listen to your answers? Did they paint a picture of the future that you found appealing and wanted to be part of? Were they able to convey their thoughts on a topic efficiently and directly and then invite your input as well?

Effectively using influence skills means learning some new behaviors – or, in some cases, refocusing behaviors your already use in order to be more efficient. Influence behaviors fall into three categories: push behaviors, pull behaviors, and push/pull behaviors.

Many people are well-versed in push behaviors, which have to do with stating your needs directly. Others are more comfortable with pull behaviors, with which you draw information out of the other party. Far fewer effectively use push/pull behaviors, which both increase commitment and move people toward action.

Most people have a default: a set of behaviors they use over and over because they work (or, often, because that’s all they know). The most effective influencer, though, is one who can pick and choose the best behavior for that moment, much as an artist decides which brush to use for each section of a painting. Using influence skills well, then, means being able to assess a situation in advance, think about the appropriate behaviors, try them, and pivot as necessary.

Planning for influence can’t be overlooked. While spur-of-the-moment opportunities to use influence skills do come up, far more often we know we’re heading into a meeting or making a phone call during which we want to influence the outcome. The investment in spending a few minutes thinking about what you want to get out of the situation, what you think the other party wants, and which of the influence behaviors you’ll use is well worth the effort. Does it take a little more time? Yes. Does it require you to change how you approach these situations? Probably. But the confidence that comes from having a plan – even if it changes mid-stream – can’t be overstated. Confident influencers are effective influencers.

Learning new behaviors often makes people anxious. But the payoff in developing influence skills is increased efficiency and better relationships, which will serve you now and in the future.

I will go into much greater detail about this during my interactive keynote presentation at the upcoming CreditScape Summit, April 12 in Garden Grove, CA.

Dan Goldes is a facilitator, trainer, and speaker based in San Francisco. He will speak on Influence Skills at CMA’s Spring CreditScape Summit on April 12. For more information about the event, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com

Coming Soon: How to Create a More Efficient Credit Department (and Ultimately Cut Costs)

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Your boss comes to you and tells you that you need to cut costs in the credit department, or that one of your resources (i.e., employees) now needs to split their time between credit and something else not related to credit. You’re already short-handed in your department. What’s a credit professional to do?

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the credit department are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is the only way to achieve high-performance results in the face of diminishing resources.

At CMA, late last year we conducted a research study where we spoke with more than a quarter of CMA’s members who told us that their biggest concern in 2017 is related to doing more with less. Whether it’s cutting costs or maximizing their efficiency, or a combination of both, CMA members are always looking for ways to streamline their credit operations. As a response to those conversations, CMA has tailored its CreditScape event to help credit managers with all levels of experience and expertise to leverage the knowledge and experiences of practitioners who have implemented new efficiency-maximizing processes in their credit departments.

The 2017 CreditScape Spring Summit, powered by United TranzActions, will feature a full day workshop that includes a keynote address on persuading internal and external customers, training sessions, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise to come together to solve problems and provide solutions for their real-world issues they face at work.

Over the next few days, several participants in the event will be guest blogging about the power of persuasion and areas in your credit operations where you could be more efficient.

We invite you to join our guest bloggers at the Spring CreditScape Summit, powered by UTA, April 12, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County (or view the website at www.creditscapeconference.com), and to read their blogs, as the information you’ll receive can help you save time and resources in the long run.

What areas of your credit department do you think you could use efficiency to cut costs that you the most interested in learning about? We welcome your feedback.

Dan Goldes to Deliver Keynote Address at Spring CreditScape

Keynote speaker Dan Goldes will present “The Influence Edge: Increasing Efficiency with Influence Skills” in an interactive keynote workshop at the upcoming CreditScape Spring Summit, April 12, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Garden Grove, CA. The keynote discussion will fit in well with the event’s theme of how to create efficiency and reduce costs in the credit department.

 

The CreditScape Spring Summit, powered by United TranzActions, features one packed day of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals, designed to give you insight on areas where you can make improvements in your company’s credit operations.

 

More information about the event, including a complete schedule, will be available soon.

 

To register, click here.

CMA President’s Blog: The Influence Edge: Management Training at CreditScape, by Mike Mitchell

CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell

During the holidays, CMA staff called and emailed most of our members to help us determine their goals and objectives for 2017, and what they thought their biggest obstacles would be. Thanks to all of our members who took the time to speak with CMA staff to share those goals, as we learned a great deal from the process, to help us shape what we’re doing to help our members. Many of you told us that (not surprisingly) that you want to reduce DSO, keep your A/R balances current, reduce late payments and bad debt write-offs, and keep customers paying on terms. Obstacles cited were customers requesting extended payment terms, reduced staffs, and bankruptcies. We also heard throughout that many of you need to overcome these obstacles and achieve your goals more efficiently and for less cost.

The upcoming CreditScape Spring Summit, which takes place in April, speaks to your concerns, as it will feature presentations and discussions that focus on helping you streamline operations and create efficiencies that will reduce the cost of doing business.

Kicking off the Summit is Dan Goldes’ presentation, “The Influence Edge: How to Get What You Want.” Why are influence skills important for credit managers? Credit roles are by their nature cross-functional – internally, you work for a senior finance executive, but you work with sales, order entry, billing, customer service, legal, shipping, and maybe even procurement. Goldes says that, “with the horizontal structure of today’s progressive organizations, it is increasingly important to ask for and receive the support you need to accomplish your goals. The most effective way to do this is through the strategic use of influence skills.”

Creating efficiencies that will reduce costs will require change, and change requires buy in. You will likely have to get approval from senior management to implement those changes (and the costs associated with them), and you will have to convince staff to adopt those changes. Both tasks require influence skills – without them, process improvements may not be successful, and indeed may not happen at all. When you attend CreditScape and learn about process improvements and tools that can create efficiencies and cost savings, we want you to feel empowered to take that knowledge back to your office and get things done. Dan says, “By using influence skills strategically, others will be more willing to help move organizational processes along without resistance.”

Additional programming at CreditScape will include a panel discussion from real-world credit practitioners explaining areas in their businesses where they’ve achieved process improvement, CMA’s version of “Speed Networking,” and other interactive events geared towards helping members create efficiencies and reduce costs in their credit operations.

At CMA, we are dedicated to helping develop educational programs that speak directly to your real-world credit needs and concerns. I encourage you to reach out to my team at CMA (or respond to this blog) if there are other topics that you think could help your business. I really hope to see you at CreditScape in April.

Honors and Awards Nominations for 2017 Now Being Accepted

Every year, CMA member volunteers help the association promote the credit profession, providing new ways to help companies make better business decisions. In order to recognize these individuals, the Honors and Awards Committee of Credit Management Association is now accepting nominations for the following awards:

  • CMA Credit Executive of the Year
  • CMA Member Company of the Year
  • CMA Instructor/Educator of the Year
  • CBA Designation of Excellence
  • CMA Mentor of the Year
  • CBF Designation of Excellence
  • CMA Student of the Year
  • CCE Designation of Excellence
  • CMA Member of the Year

This is an opportunity to recognize those credit professionals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, exemplary commitment to the Credit Profession, and who have inspired or have worked to promote the advancement of credit management. The recipient will be announced at CMA’s CreditScape Spring Summit on April 12, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Garden Grove, CA. Nominees will be judged on the basis of professional experience, education, leadership ability and participation in CMA groups, committees and activities.

To nominate an individual or company for the awards, please use the following link:

 

 

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

IMG_7974ef

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

How CMA Supports Collaborative Learning and Leads Change in Credit Operations, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell
CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell

Thanks to all the credit practitioners, industry experts, and industry partners who participated in the many valuable conversations at CMA’s recent CreditScape Summit. Our goal was to create an interactive, collaborative learning environment, and I was so pleased with the high level of sharing among all participants throughout the two-day event.

 

I was equally pleased with the audience response to facilitator Bob Shultz’s approach to process improvements within what he calls the Cash-to-Cash cycle. Also known as the cash conversion cycle, Shultz emphasized that the role of credit management extends beyond basic credit and collections processes. There is the opportunity to impact the company’s liquidity through good inventory and accounts payable management, in addition to traditional accounts receivable management. Collections trainer Bart Frankel recommended that credit people take responsibility for helping to resolve issues that arise out of these “other” departments, as they ultimately impact the credit department’s effectiveness in granting credit and collecting receivables.

 

Experienced credit practitioners and other credit industry experts shared specific examples of how they successfully influenced and improved processes across the Cash-to-Cash cycle and created more cash flow from operations.

 

Another example of how CMA is advocating for the expansion of the traditional role of credit within the enterprise is the suggestion that credit can support procurement in evaluating the risk of critical suppliers. Recently, I had the unique opportunity to participate as a panelist in the fourth annual Global Supply Chain Management Conference at USC’s Marshall School of Business. As panel moderator, CMA Member Alvin Moreno, Director of Global Supply Chain Credit Risk with Nestle USA, made the case that the credit department is best positioned to help the procurement department assess the financial stability of a company’s suppliers. In the wake of shipper Hanjin’s bankruptcy, supply chain disruption has continued to grow as a concern for companies that rely on critical suppliers, which gives credit the opportunity to add new value to the business.

 

As a panelist, I told the audience of supply chain professionals about how CMA has worked with Alvin, his team at Nestle USA, and other CMA Members to create a special credit group in which credit managers collaborate on processes and best practices in supplier risk evaluations. More information about that collaboration is here.

 

Clearly, we at CMA are big fans of process improvement through collaborative learning. But as I mentioned in my opening remarks at CreditScape last week, credit managers need to step up and become credit leaders if they are to be successful in driving the organizational changes necessary to make those process improvements a reality.

 

How are you leading change in your organization? I welcome your feedback.

CreditScape Fall Summit Delivers the Elements of a High-Performing Credit Department

The CreditScape Fall Summit, Powered by United TranzActions, an interactive learning seminar and workshop took place September 22-23 at the Doubletree by Hilton Sonoma. The event delivered the elements of a high-performing credit department, providing attendees with dozens of ideas to bring back to the office, according to preliminary survey results that were tabulated after the event.

 

With the common theme of “the elements of high performing credit departments,” attendees commented that the sessions gave them insights on understanding the entire cash-to-cash process, understanding credit from the standpoint of the CFO, getting to “yes” with the sales department, and especially the 6 steps to improving the collections process. Also a hit were the panel discussions where attendees heard from their peers how they have successfully implemented these processes.

 

Additionally, for the second event in a row, every person who submitted a preliminary survey said they’d likely recommend CreditScape to a colleague.

Here are some photos from the event:

bart-frankel-presents-the-6-steps-to-collection-success bob-shultz-addresses-the-crowsd creditscape-crowd-shot-w img_0962 img_4304 sangeeta-janet-and-clark

Plans are forthcoming for CMA’s Spring event and will be announced as soon as possible.

 

Thanks again to our event sponsors United TranzActions, Dade Systems, Vantiv, CreditPoint Software, Bectran, IAB, Emagia / TheCreditApplication.com, Ansonia Credit Data, AG Adjustments, NCS and Dun & Bradstreet, and to all who attended the event!

How Collections Fits in the “Order-to-Cash” Cycle, by Bart Frankel

Following is an excerpt from my workshop at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops in Sonoma, CA, Sept. 22-23. I sincerely look forward to meeting many of you at the event to discuss this in much more detail.
First let’s define the Order-to-Cash Cycle (O2CC). It can be defined in an 11-step process as follows:

  • The sales call
  • The credit check
  • Contract payment terms and conditions
  • Order entry
  • Shipping
  • Billing
  • COLLECTIONS
  • Legal action
  • Cash Application
  • Customer Statements
  • Customer payment history

“Collections” is in capital letters because, without it, the majority part of the cash flow process would not be as successful as it should be. The “Sixth Step of the Collection Process” in Phone Power Collections is the nucleus of the other 10 functions of O2CC. If any of these functions go wrong, it would be the responsibility of the Collection Process, not only to fix itself, but to also fix the other 10 steps to make the O2CC process more efficient. No process is perfect, but we all have the responsibility to strive for perfection through best business practices of the O2CC process.
For example:

If the sales department is quoting 45-day payment terms, when in fact your organization’s payment terms are 30 days, then the collections department needs to meet with the sales department to ensure the correct payment terms are quoted to the customer. If the sales department makes a “special deal” with a particular customer for a 60-day payment, then the sales department needs to get prior approval from the finance department and then notify the legal department about the special payment terms for contract purposes.

If order entry is not putting the Purchase Order number on the order sheet for the billing department to put it on the customer invoice, this would be a good excuse for the customer not to pay if this is a customer requirement.

Similarly, if shipping continues to short or over ship items to the customer, this will cause lost revenue or delayed collection. In this case, procedures need to be tightened up in shipping to minimize over and short shipping.

In cash application, if there is a big backlog in unapplied cash, the customer would not receive an accurate customer statement and not pay timely until all unapplied cash to their account is posted. Likewise, all customer statements must be mailed out two days after the month-end closing to ensure timely review, by the customer, for accuracy on their statements.

I look forward to sharing the rest of this presentation with you at the upcoming CreditScape conference in Sonoma this September.

Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops in Sonoma, CA on September 22-23, 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Bart Frankel is a professional speaker who was responsible for a $7 billion Order-to-Cash process when he was the Manager of Financial Services for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies for more than 20 years.

Other related articles:

How to Get to “Yes” by Paul Beretz, CICE

As credit managers in the journey to bring revenue to our organizations while monitoring the accounts receivable investment, we have many “detours” along the way. However, like any trip, there are opportunities that we can either recognize, ignore or perhaps not even realize when they come our way.

Certainly the risk elements that so many of us know – the “C’s” of credit – are critical to getting to “yes.” You probably know the “C’s” of Credit – Character, Capacity, Capital, Conditions and Collateral. These risk characteristics, in some form, will lead us to mitigation tools which can minimize risk. In addition, if you deal in global credit (maybe not today, but perhaps your organization buys/expands into international markets tomorrow), you will also encounter the additional “C’s” of global risk, Country, Culture and Currency.

I have realized in my own treasury and accounts receivable experience an area often under-emphasized: the “soft skills” that are critical components in reaching “yes.” These techniques involve understanding how effectively we communicate, listen, react and reflect before taking action. Do we successfully consider the needs of the “other” person in the path to get us to our goal – not just the customer – but in our organization?

We all know the “Golden Rule:” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This rule assumes others want to be treated like you. Dr. Tony Alessandra developed the “Platinum Rule:” “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” It’s not so much what I want, but accommodating the feelings and needs of others (and not just customers), but those in our own organization that are in the line of getting to “yes:” sales, marketing, IT, HR, manufacturing, purchasing, to name a few.

At the upcoming CreditScape conference in Sonoma this September, I look forward to your sharing input regarding this approach to “Yes.”

This is just a surface view of the idea of “how to get to yes in your credit decisioning process.. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops in Sonoma, CA on September 22-23, 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Paul Beretz, CICE (Certified International Credit Executive), is Managing Director of Pacific Business Solutions, a company he created in 1999. In addition, he is a founding partner of Q2C (Quote to Cash) Solutions. He brings over 30 years of global, corporate experience in finance and management with industries such as telecommunications, semi-conductors, forest products, chemicals, plastics and consumer products among others. His expertise includes analyzing opportunities and providing resolutions in the order-through-collect cycle for manufacturers, distributors and service companies located worldwide.

Other related links:

Do You Understand the Credit Department’s Role in the Cash to Cash Cycle?, by Robert Shultz

A company’s cash flow is dependent on a lot more than just credit policies and collections.  Every credit professional plays a larger role than just managing these areas.  If you want to add real value to the total operation, you must understand the “Cash-to-Cash Cycle.”  How is the cash conversion cycle measured?  What are the components that drive performance?  What departments or stakeholders are affected by your department’s decisions or delays?  How does your department impact overall company results?

To start, you have to see liquidity management through the eyes of a Treasurer, Chief Financial Officer, CEO or Owner.  They are concerned with how departments work together to meet company strategies and goals.  To them it is critical to balance inflows and outflows, to meet forecasts, and minimize the need for borrowing.  They want to get products out the door to meet or beat competition with excellent service and speed.  To manage effectively, performance tracking and transparency are a must.

At the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops, powered by UTA, we will be exploring how a credit professional impacts each component of the “Cash to Cash Cycle”; Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO), Days Payables Outstanding (DPO) and of course Days Sales Outstanding (DSO).  We will dive into the causes of delays in “cash days” and what you can do about them.

You will be able to share your challenges and ideas with a panel of Chief Financial Officers and your peers.  We will discuss actions you can take to improve performance and demonstrate your value.  Come to CreditScape and better understand cash to cash management.  You will leave with an action plan for improvements you can start immediately.

 

This is just a surface view of the cash-to-cash cycle. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Workshops in Sonoma, CA on September 22-23, 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC. He will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Coming Soon: How to Implement the Elements of High-Performing Credit Departments

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the credit department are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is the only way to achieve high-performance results in the face of ever-shrinking budgets.

At CMA, we’ve had numerous conversations and phone calls from members who tell us that they are trying to do more with less, or that their departments have been downsized. As a response to those conversations, CMA has created an event that is designed to help credit managers with all levels of experience and expertise to leverage the knowledge and experiences of practitioners who have implemented elements of high-performing credit departments, with a complete 360-degree overview of why, when and how to implement those elements to help your department achieve its maximum performance.

The 2016 CreditScape Fall Summit and Workshops, powered by United TranzActions, will feature two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise to come together to solve problems and provide solutions for their real-world issues they face at work.

Over the next few days, three of our panel and workshop moderators for the event, Robert Shultz, Bart Frankel and Paul Beretz, will be guest blogging about the cash-to-cash cycle, how to get to “yes” in credit decisioning, and how collections fits into the cash-to-cash cycle.

We invite you to join Robert, Bart and Paul at the Fall CreditScape Summit and Workshops, powered by UTA, September 22-23, 2016 at the Doubletree by Hilton Sonoma (or view the website at www.creditscapeconference.com) , and to read their blogs, as the information you’ll receive can help you save time and resources in the long run.

What elements of the high-performing credit department are you the most interested in learning about? We welcome your feedback.

Other related articles:

CMA Announces CreditScape 2016 Fall Summit and Workshops Schedule

For those credit professionals who are interested in implementing process improvements in their credit departments, striving for a high-performing credit operation, you won’t want to miss the CreditScape Fall Summit, powered by UTA, September 22-23, 2016 in Sonoma, CA.

We work in a “do more with less” world. Practitioners in the CreditScape are impacted more than most. Dedication to process improvement is one of the only ways to achieve high-performance results in the face of ever-shrinking budgets. The CreditScape Fall Summit provides a powerful opportunity to hear from highly successful credit experts and share decidedly effective best-practices with credit colleagues from a wide range of companies and industries.

Experience CMA’s unique, highly-rated event that balances a mixture of subject-matter expertise, peer-to-peer experience, and credit industry solution providers in a safe, facilitated workshop setting. CreditScape gives attendees an opportunity to identify problems and formulate solutions that can be taken back to the office. There is no substitute for the value of sharing real-world experiences with peers outside your company and outside your industry.

Following is the schedule of events, speakers and sessions for CreditScape:

Thursday, September 22

8:00 – 9:30 AM Bonus pre-conference Maximize Your Membership session

Instructor: CMA Staff

Learn from CMA staff how you can be sure that you’re maximizing your CMA membership investment by using all of the applicable services that can help your credit department.

10:00 – 10:30 AM: Intro – Cash-to-Cash: What is it and why does it matter?
Facilitator: Bob Shultz

Whether they realize it or not, credit and collection managers have an impact on the entire cash-to-cash cycle. 30-year credit veteran, consultant, and UCLA Extension instructor Bob Shultz will kick off the Fall Summit with an explanation of the cash to cash cycle, then lead attendees through workshop exercises designed to help benchmark their own processes.

10:30 AM-NOON – The Role of the Credit Department from the Viewpoint of a CFO
Facilitator: Bob Shultz
Panelists: CFOs, VP of Finance, Treasurer (TBD)

CFOs will discuss how they see the role of the Credit Manager in the cash-to-cash cycle, the greatest challenges they face, and their expectations of Credit Managers to address those challenges.

NOON-1:00 PM – Lunch

1:00-2:30 PM – What parts of the Cash-to-Cash process can you improve?
Facilitator: Bob Shultz
Panelists: Tim Cratty, CGCE, Director of Customer Financial Services, Jackson Family Wines; Tom Sacher, CCE, Director of Corporate Credit and Collections, Watsco; Kim Howard, West Coast Director of Credit, Cemex

Bob Shultz will lead a panel discussion with credit practitioners about what processes they have successfully improved, how, and report the winning results:
• Pre-checks for the Sales Department
• Automating new customer onboarding
• Metrics and reporting across department lines
• Quote: Pricing and Terms
• Sales Forecast
• Inventory to ship
• Accounts Payable
• Order Management
• Credit and AR management
• Invoice Admin
• Collection and Disputes
• Cash Admin
• Scoring model
• Portfolio analysis

2:45-4:15 PM – How do you get to “Yes”
Facilitator: Paul Beretz, CICE
Panelists: 2 Credit Professionals (TBD); Walter Trask, EVP, Comerica Bank

The Credit Manager’s job is to find a way to say “yes” to every credit sale. Bringing over 30 years of global experience in credit, finance, and management, Paul Beretz, CICE, will lead a panel of practitioners and other experts to discuss how they get to “yes” while protecting the company’s ability to get paid. Discussions will include:
• Payment processing/check guarantee
• UCCs
• Credit insurance
• Letters of Credit
• Spot factoring
• Alternative financing options
• Legal Enhancements/guarantees/escrow agreements

4:30-5:15 PM – Workshop Exercises

5:15-6:00 PM – Demo Marketplace

6:00-7:00 PM – Networking Reception

Friday, September 23

8:00-11:00 AM – Phone Power: 6 Steps to Collection Success
Facilitator: Bart Frankel

Bart Frankel was the highest-rated trainer at last year’s Fall Summit, and now he’s back in an expanded training program that will focus even more time on role-playing the toughest collection calls. As the Manager of Financial Services for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies for over 20 years, Bart was responsible for a $7 billion Order-to-Cash process. Participants will work with Bart and with each other to learn his highly successful 6-step process for getting paid. Bart’s advice is: improve processes early in the Order-to-Cash cycle to mitigate or even avoid collection efforts on the back end. This presentation is a must attend workshop for credit and collection teams!

11:00-12:30 PM – Using Third-Party Vendors to Create Efficiencies (Speed Networking event)

Meet in small groups with service providers whose offerings could allow your credit department to realize efficiencies in areas such as accounts receivable management, collections, payment processing, workflow management, cash application, and more. Service providers will lead the discussions in their areas of expertise. You choose the meetings and discussion topics around solutions that would help you and your company.

12:30-2:00 PM – Lunch and wrap-up session; share your takeaways!

NOTE: All speakers and contents of this program are subject to change. This schedule last updated August 1, 2016

To learn more about the conference and to register, visit CreditScapeConference.com.  We hope to see you in Sonoma!

Josh Poli, Nannette Bringard Named 2016 CMA Students of the Year

Josh Poli, CBF, Intsel Steel
Josh Poli, CBF, Intsel Steel, accepts his award from Melissa Kobus, CCE, at the recent CreditScape Spring Summit

Congratulations to Josh Poli, CBF, of Intsel Steel West and Nannette Bringard, CBA, of Breakthru Beverage, who were named CMA Students of the Year at the recent CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting.

Nannette Bringard of Breakthru Beverage, who received the CBA Designation of Excellence, has been in the credit industry for 25+ years, where she has served on a number of boards and committees for CMA. She encourages those around her to participate freely in credit industry meetings and to reach beyond their goals for success.

Josh Poli, CBF, from Intsel Steel West, who received the CBF Designation of Excellence, has been described as someone who goes above and beyond to support his company and his customers. His desire to learn more has been key to his success, and he frequently attends seminars, webinars and other educational events to expand his professional knowledge. His co-workers have been very appreciative to what he’s brought to the table.

Congratulations again to our winners Nannette Bringard and Josh Poli!

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.

Attendees and Vendors Agree: CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting Was a Success

The CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, Powered by United TranzActions, an interactive learning seminar and workshop which took place March 24-25 at the Island Hotel Newport Beach, was a huge success, according to preliminary survey results that were tabulated after the event.

With the common theme of “the elements of an efficient digital credit department,” attendees commented that the sessions gave them insights on how to approach their superiors to update their credit departments, help with evaluating vendors, and how to take their credit applications digital. They also overwhelmingly liked the panel discussions led by their peers who have implemented the technology, and their success (and failure) stories in implementing it.

Said one sponsor: “The audience at CreditScape was the most intelligent one we’ve seen at an event. Lots of great questions were asked, and we feel the attendees got a lot out of it. I can’t wait to participate in the next one.”

Mike Puccinelli of Equinix addresses the crowd at the opening session of the Spring 2016 CreditScape.
Mike Puccinelli of Equinix addresses the crowd at the opening session of the Spring 2016 CreditScape.

Additionally, every person who submitted a survey said they’d recommend CreditScape to a colleague.

Plans are already underway for a 2016 Fall CreditScape, September 22-23, 2016 in Sonoma, Calif. Details about the event are forthcoming.

Thanks again to our event sponsors United TranzActions, Dade Systems, Vantiv, Bectran, Skyminder, eMagia / TheCreditApplication.com, Ansonia Credit Data, TermSync, AG Adjustments and Dun & Bradstreet, and to all who attended the event!

Easy-to-Implement Technology That Can Make a Credit Manager’s Job Easier, by Michelle Herman

Yesterday I mentioned that I’d be listing several technologies I use that make my job easier. These are all things that I don’t have to call the I.T. department to install for me. These tech tools are easy to learn, easy to use, super helpful in the credit and collection department, make you look good, and best of all, are FREE!

Free Conference Call/Webinar/Video Chat tool
Free Conference Call.com
www.freeconferencecall.com
Yes – it really is free! You get assigned a phone number and code that is static and is yours to use whenever you need to have a conference call. You can even do free webinars (and record them) with all the standard tools that pricey tools like WebEx offer. Now they even offer video chat!

Free Online Large File Management Tool
Dropbox
www.dropbox.com
Large files are often rejected, or never make it out of your own server. Dropbox solves this issue by allowing you to convert any document into a link that is easily shared and can be password protected. You can store or send pictures, PowerPoint’s, excel files, etc. This product comes with a basic level of storage than can be incrementally increased through a variety of actions.

TheCreditApplication.com
eMagia Software
www.thecreditapplication.com
Another great new product from our friends at Emagia that provides you with an online credit application that you customize – for FREE! You re-create your credit app online, no tech support from your company necessary. You can export data into excel or your ERP, it is integrated with credit sources like the NACM National Trade Credit Report and even Yahoo financials.

Low-to-No-Cost Productivity Tools
Your Nerdy Best Friend
www.yournerdybestfriend.com
If you missed seeing Beth Ziesenis, known as “Your Nerdy Best Friend,” at last year’s Western Region conference in Portland, you don’t want to miss seeing her at Credit Congress. Visit her site to get comprehensive reviews on super productivity tools that touch virtually every area of your department. You are sure to find something that will change your life – personally and professionally.

Multi-Bureau anscersX Commercial Credit Report
CMA
www.anscers.com
Ok, this one isn’t really free, but it is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to get data from the leading commercial credit bureaus all in one place. The AnscersX report provided by CMA, gives you the greatest hits from D&B, Experian and Equifax all in one easy to read report. No contracts, no minimums, no hassle.

Use anyone of these tools and you’ve got some instant sizzle. You instantly up your professionalism and your image. All of these tools have impressive graphical reporting features to help you share the results with your boss, making you and your team, look great. The key is to take one step at a time, start with simple low- or no-cost options for some of the most basic productivity tools, and generate some good looking reports that tell a story. Just pick one and sign up. Didn’t see one that floats your boat? There are hundreds of these types of tools, and just starting with one and seeing immediate real success – the sizzle- is what you need to keep going. Track me down at CreditScape and I’ll give you a live demo of how easy these tools are and how they may your life easier and make you look sharp.

Ok, we get it. You’re busy, overworked, underpaid. And probably under-valued. If that is your reality, and your perception, it’s time to take action to change it. We know it is hard to get out of the office, but if you’re not viewed by management as you’d really like to be, take the time, learn a few new tricks. Generate some sizzle. See you at CreditScape!

CreditScape
This is just a surface view of one of the topics that will be discussed in detail at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting in Newport Beach, CA on March 24-25, 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Michelle Herman is a business development manager at NACM. She will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Read the other posts in this series here:

Why is it So Difficult to Implement New Technology Solutions in the Credit Department, by Michelle Herman

Why is it that credit, especially commercial credit, always seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to resources? Why does it seem just the opposite for sales and marketing? Why do they always get the newest equipment, the coolest gadgets, the fancy business cards, even the latest version of Microsoft office before you? Why? It’s because those folks are externally facing representatives of your company and your company already knows the value of their efforts. Huge marketing campaigns cost huge dollars and are visible inside and outside of the company. Huge sales get noticed and celebrated – and commissioned. These teams may annoy the heck out of you, but they have a few things figured out: get noticed = be valued. They are constantly throwing out the sizzle – and people notice sizzle, all the time.

So why can’t credit sizzle? Why are we always in the back room? Why are our requests and projects always “on the list”? Why doesn’t anyone else get excited that your 90+ bucket just dropped below x percent? At this point, my only conclusion is this: Perception really is reality. If you have everything you need in your department, you can save ten minutes and stop reading this now. If you are still struggling to get basic tools and funding for training and attending conferences, read on.

For every person in your company who has nothing to do with (or knows nothing about) credit or collections, their PERCEPTION about what you and your team do or don’t do, their stereotypes, biases, and assumptions, really is their REALITY. How you and your team are perceived, almost more than how you actually perform, is how you are valued, whether you like it or not. And they will support you only to the extent that they think you are valuable.

We all know, none of us ever planned to get here, it just happened. Many never even heard of commercial credit until we were suddenly knee deep in it. Clearly, as an industry and a profession, we’ve got some work to do, but we’ll save that for another day. The point is, no one really knows what you do, and it is your job to educate them, to prove your value – but take some notes from those flashy sales folks, sometimes you need a little sizzle to do it!

So how do you sizzle? How do you prove your value? How do you get a seat at the table? How do you get to be seen as a strategic player, not just an administrative cost center? How do you really change their perception? You must start by changing your reality, and you can do it starting today, through technology, without spending a dime.

If you are still reading, I’m going to assume that you’d like to improve a few things. Many in our industry have been around a long time, and have heard “no” so often, that they just stop asking, and they stop learning. I’m still amazed at what isn’t being implemented in our member’s offices and even in our own NACM offices, because we haven’t taken time to find out what’s out there. We did a short survey at one of the regional conferences about why technology isn’t adopted more often.
Reason Number 1: No Time. No one takes the time to investigate the technology, because they have no time. They have no time, because they have no technology. It is a vicious and evil cycle. Result: no sizzle, no value, no tools.

Reason Number 2: No Budget. This really shouldn’t be an excuse anymore as so many services are offering their basic tool for free, only charging if you want to upgrade. It is a great business model that lets folks like us actually explore things, test it out, kick the tires – before we commit, or spend a dime. And they are all web-based – nothing to install, no tech involvement needed, just go to a website and register.

Tomorrow, I’ll list a few of my favorite tech tools that are easy to learn, easy to use, super helpful in the credit and collection department, make you look good, and best of all, are FREE!

CreditScape
This is just a surface view of one of the topics that will be discussed in detail at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting in Newport Beach, CA on March 24-25, 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Michelle Herman is a business development manager at NACM. She will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Read the other posts in this series here:

So Your Software or Automation Initiative Has Been Approved, What Do I Do Now?, by Robert S. Shultz

Define the Project Purpose and Scope? It is Not all about the Technology

Any software or automation improvement addresses defined business objectives that impact multiple areas within the company. In order to pull off these changes effectively all stakeholders affected should be aware of and involved in the coming changes. Depending on the project and the company, the target audience may differ. As an example: You can’t consider changes in credit and collection software without involving such areas as sales, customer service/order administration, project managers, operations and IT, while keeping senior management informed. Every project has a defined mission that requires cross-functional buy in. Realistic objectives and timelines have to be agreed to. Roles have to be defined.

This takes planning and cross-functional communication. If you are heading the implementation team you will need a clear vision on how the changes will support company goals and performance expectations. Processes, policies and procedures may need changes and streamlining to best leverage the new tools.

Ready Fire Aim… Don’t get bogged down with long term major system implementations. They are hopes and dreams.

A solution provider will have to be vetted that meets your company’s requirements. This will involve a well thought out selection process where both you and the provider understand each other’s business needs, strengths and weaknesses. You will need a basis for your selection. Try to make this as objective as possible, looking at each potential provider with the same criteria. A well rounded score card that lists and weights your critical needs. The selection process should provide all the stakeholders involved an opportunity to participate. If you get buy in at this stage, there will be much less push back later.

No system is perfect or addresses all the needs of all the users. Often it is best to reduce expectations in order to actually get the basics in a reasonable time-frame. Credit and collections are tactical issues: The needs are immediate and have to be addressed today. Complex ERP implementations are strategic in nature. By the time the specialized needs of a Credit Manager are addressed, too much time is lost, the department fails to gain efficiency and results have not improved.

Making the Choice Between an ERP and a Specialized Solution

ERP solutions are robust and have many company-wide advantages. They are also complex, expensive and have long implementation cycles. Let’s face facts. Credit Departments typically have fewer headcount that other areas supported by an ERP. The value in spending research and development dollars for a minimal number of users isn’t in the cards.

Companies specializing in credit and collection software, billing automation, document management and cash administration, address the issues you are trying to resolve on a full-time basis. Credit and collections is not an after-thought, it is their market and revenue stream. They continually focus on user needs and spend R&D dollars to improve their product. Many have user groups you can participate in, that have a real impact on the next release. Implementations are easier and of shorter duration. Cloud based solutions require minimal use of your internal IT resources. Costs are surprisingly low.

Many are faced with this obstacle, “Oh we are putting in or upgrading our ERP next year. It will do fine for you. We don’t want to do any other projects in this area until after the ERP is up and running. We are going to implement the ERP straight vanilla. Anything you need will be in Phase 2 (i.e.: Never)” If that is the case, push hard for incremental improvements and results in a relatively short time-frame.

A Credit Manager has a strong position. You should illustrate a good return on the investment. Show how other departments and most importantly, your customers will benefit. An interim fix with a decent ROI will pay for itself before the ERP initiative is complete.

When the day comes and the ERP vs an interim solution is looming, do a gap analysis between the interim solution and the ERP. You are likely to be surprised by what you already have.

At the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting, you will be able to discuss how to choose a solution provider. Expert Panelists will give you insight on their experiences, victories and losses. You will have ample time to ask questions and network with others who are, or who have faced, the same technology challenges you have. This is definitely a good use of your time.

CreditScape
This is just a surface view of what it takes to convince management an automation initiative should be approved. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape meeting in Newport Beach, CA on March 24-25 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC. He will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Read the other posts in this series here:

Justifying Credit and Collections Automation to Your Management, by Robert S. Shultz

Today’s Business Reality:

In today’s rough and tumble business environment the need for expense management, working capital and liquidity are key CEO and CFO concerns. Gone are the days of ready access to financing and smooth collection of accounts receivables. Timely management information must be available showing how the business is doing and where the opportunities for improvement are. More than ever companies must increase the productivity of limited order to cash management and staff. All this must be delivered with maximum customer service and satisfaction.

Companies must be able to extend credit intelligently, generate accurate and timely invoices, and quickly identify and correct customer disputes. Management needs to track performance metrics, trends and customer issues. Companies that do these things well are in a position to shorten their overall cash conversion cycle, reduce the need for borrowing and bring a company the liquidity it needs to survive and thrive.

There are many cost effective automation solutions in the marketplace focused on these issues. Many of these are cloud based. This simplifies implementation and few internal IT resources are needed. Even though the costs are relatively low, the functionality is amazing. Credit and other financial managers will find that the first hurdle is to convince management the suggested solution meets the acid test. They have to answer the question, “Show me the Return on Investment” (ROI).

Where to Start
The first step for a credit manager is to determine when volumes and performance challenges justify automation and the expense of a solution. The solution could be developed internally or acquired from a third party provider. The cost and likelihood of success with an internal option really depends on the resources available in the company.

Following are ten things to consider that fit any automation initiative. The following is not intended to be a complete list. It covers the key points you may include in a recommendation to senior management.

How would you answer the following question: What are the Compelling Needs for Automation?

In order to convince management to invest in any automation you must demonstrate the need in clear, real world and understandable terms. Here are ten things to consider:

  1. Is excessive overtime a routine in the department? Are you using temps to supplement permanent staff?
  2. If you benchmark Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) transaction volume is yours is low by comparison?
  3. Is your company growing, merging or acquiring but you are not able to hire additional staff for your department?
  4. Is Sales continually upset that credit reviews take too long? Is business lost as a result?
  5. Are collection results below expectations?
  6. Is your department stuck in a morass of unworked deductions?
  7. Are invoices often inaccurate or go out late?
  8. Are Sales and Customers impacted by order hold and release delays?
  9. Is management unsatisfied with performance measurements, reporting and the ability to status Customer balances?
  10. Is it impossible to accurately forecast cash flow?

As you can see if any or all of these factors are in play you will get the attention of your management with opportunities for significant improvements.

Where is the Money!
Soft savings such as process efficiency or improved customer service can help justify expenditures for automation. Actual hard cost savings will enable you to calculate the “ROI” and how long it will take to get there.

You should consider such things as:

  1. An increase in transactions per FTE will reduce the need for overtime, temps or permanent staff.
  2. Based on forecasted company and transaction growth automation will reduce the need to add staff.
  3. Automation of the credit approval and review process will speed decisions, avoid lost business and could reduce past dues and write-offs.
  4. Increased collection efficiency will bring in cash earlier, reducing borrowing costs, enabling the company to take all Accounts Payable discounts, provide working capital to invest in profitable opportunities.
  5. Timely or self-service invoicing will reduce invoicing delays, identify errors earlier and optimize the payment cycle.
  6. Cash administration/application improvements will identify customer payments earlier, avoiding unnecessary collection expense and speeding up the order hold release process, improving revenue and profits.

 

This is just a surface view of what it takes to convince management an automation initiative should be approved. Each of these points and more will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming CreditScape Summit and Annual meeting in Newport Beach, CA on March 24-25 2016. Come to CreditScape, learn from experts and peers who have done this, share you own experiences with others. For more information, visit www.CreditScapeConference.com.

Robert S. Shultz is a Partner at Quote to Cash Solutions (Q2C) LLC. He will also be moderating several of the panel discussions and workshops at CreditScape.

Read the other posts in this series here:

Coming Soon: How to Know That Your Credit Department Processes Are Efficient

These are interesting and challenging times. With the digital revolution, many process improvements have completely changed the way business is done. There is so much more information available now than ever before in assigning business credit that it is difficult to stay up on the latest trends and best practices to make sure that your department (and you!) are doing things as efficiently as possible with the available tools.

At CMA, we’ve had numerous conversations and phone calls from members who tell us that they are trying to do more with less, or that their departments have been downsized. As a response to those conversations, CMA has created an event that is designed to help credit managers with all levels of experience and expertise to leverage the knowledge and experiences of practitioners who have implemented elements of an efficient digital credit department, with a complete 360-degree overview of why, when and how to implement those elements to make your department run more efficiently.

The 2016 CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, powered by United TranzActions, will feature two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals. The goal of CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners at all levels of experience and expertise to come together to solve problems and provide solutions for their real-world issues they face at work.

Next week, two of our panel moderators for the event, Robert Shultz and Michelle Herman, will be guest blogging about the reasons why you need to at least consider implementing the elements of the digital credit department, but specifically the WHY, WHEN and HOW to implement, including how to justify the need to your management, select a third-party vendor, the types of problems that digital applications can solve, and more.

We invite you to join Robert and Michelle at the Spring CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting, March 24-25, 2016 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach (or view the website at www.creditscapeconference.com) , and to read their blogs, as the information you’ll receive can help you save time and resources in the long run.

What elements of the digital credit department are you the most interested in learning about? We welcome your feedback.

Read the other posts in this series here:

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.

Credit Management Association® Announces Details for CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, Powered by UTA

 

CMA Event to Offer 360-Degree Overview of the Elements of an Efficient Digital Credit Department, March 24-25, 2016.

BURBANK, CA (January 21, 2016)–Credit Management Association (CMA) is collaborating with payment processing solutions partner United TranzActions (UTA) to educate credit professionals with a complete overview of the elements that make up an efficient digital credit department. The CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, powered by UTA, takes place March 24-25, 2016 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, and features two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals over the common theme of implementing automation tools and third-party services to increase the overall efficiency and performance of the credit operation.

“We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants at our inaugural CreditScape event last fall. Members and other participants told us that they really benefitted from the real-world case studies and practitioners who shared their experiences through panel discussions and workshops. Attendees also appreciated having vendors and sponsors included in problem-solving discussions. Sustainable learning is about shared knowledge and experiences, and this is one way that CreditScape Summits will keep participants ahead of the curve in an ever-changing credit landscape. This will also be much more interactive than the typical teacher-and-classroom experience our audience is used to. For those who are used to staring at their phones and checking email during these types of events, then CreditScape is not for you,” said CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell.

“In conversations I’ve personally had with members, we believe that it’s not just about finding the right solution provider, but instead determining the diagnosis and solution to efficiency problems. With the help of some of our technology partners, including payment processing solution provider UTA, we’ve developed a program geared towards all sizes of credit departments. Our expert panels will take attendees through the entire life-cycle of process improvement, from identifying credit functions that can be improved through automation and/or outsourcing, to determining and implementing the right solution, to measuring results to determine success. Stay current on best practices and hear from practitioners who have successfully implemented electronic credit applications, A/R automations, business intelligence and other elements of the digital credit department,” Mitchell added.

“Preliminary discussions with CMA members and industry partners have uncovered various capabilities and core competencies that affect credit department efficiency, including automation tools, the quality of customer investigations and evaluations, building relationships with customers and sales, and differentiated collection approaches for large and small debtors.”

“Among the topics to be addressed at the Summit are automating the customer onboarding process, vetting your customers, automating your A/R management process, international resources and government automation tools, emerging technologies that may impact the credit department, and more. The program has a strong group of discussion-leader practitioners from leading companies such as Sony Entertainment, Equinix, Sysco Foods, Ganahl Lumber, Kendall-Jackson, Walters Wholesale, Watsco, SRS Distribution, UTA/United TranzActions, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. These are some of the subjects and practitioners that will drive content and discussion at CreditScape,” Mitchell said.

In addition to the educational program, CMA will also hold its Annual Meeting, which will include the installation of the 2016-2017 CMA Board of Directors, plus the presentation of awards for Credit Executive of the Year, Mentor of the Year and Student of the Year. The Annual Meeting will take place during lunch on March 25.

The event will be preceded by the Credit Executives Symposium on March 23 at the Island Hotel. The one-day event for CFOs and Credit Directors, offers high-level interactive discussions and workshops on the hottest topics in credit management. CreditScape Summits are offered in the Fall and in the Spring, focusing on different aspects of the Credit Management landscape. It is one in a series of in-person educational opportunities offered by Credit Management Association. To learn more about the other sessions and topics, visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events or call 800-541-2622.
About Credit Management Association

Credit Management Association (CMA), which was founded in 1883, is a Burbank, Calif.-headquartered trade association with approximately 1,100 member companies representing over 200 different business categories selling regionally, nationally and internationally. CMA focuses on providing products and services that allow companies to make informed business decisions based on trade credit. CMA is one of the largest affiliates of the National Association of Credit Management (NACM), whose 33 affiliates serve all of North America. For more information, call 800-541-2622, or visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org.

# # #

Theme, Hotel Registration Announced for CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting

CreditScape Spring Summit
CreditScape Spring Summit

Attendees of the 2016 Spring CreditScape Summit and Annual Meeting, which takes place March 24-25, 2016 at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, will learn about the efficient digital credit department, according to CMA president and CEO Mike Mitchell. “We listened to feedback from Fall CreditScape attendees and members, and the survey results overwhelmingly suggested the topic should resonate with most credit managers today.”

While the session and speaker lineup is currently being developed, attendees can reserve their hotel rooms now at www.creditscapeconference.com.

More information about the event will be announced in a few weeks.

Save the Date: Credit Management Association Announces CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting

— Expanded Two-Day Education Summit will be held March 24-25, 2016 in Newport Beach–

On the heels of its successful inaugural CreditScape Fall Summit in Las Vegas, Credit Management Association (CMA) has announced plans for an expanded Annual Meeting, which will include two days of focused credit management best practices training and workshops to help increase cash flow while reducing your company’s overall risk.

The CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, March 24-25, 2016 at The Island hotel in Newport Beach, will feature two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals.

“The Fall CreditScape event was born out of feedback from members who asked us for help with their collections processes. Survey results from the recent Fall event show that members appreciated learning from subject matter experts and seasoned credit professionals who shared their experiences through panel discussions and interactive workshops. We plan to take that feedback and build an even better program for the Spring,” said CMA President and CEO Mike Mitchell.

“CMA members are always looking for better ways to manage and maximize recovery of their receivables. We are weighing several options for the overall theme of the event, which the educational content will focus around,” Mitchell added. “And as we did in the Fall, we will incorporate the latest techniques in content delivery for adult learners to create a thought-provoking and practical meeting experience that produces valuable take-aways and sustained value for participants and their credit departments.”

Credit Management Association is currently developing the programming for the event, which is designed to propose best practices and methods to help companies increase their cash flow and reduce losses from their customers. Details about the program will be announced later this Fall.

In addition to the increased educational offerings at CreditScape, the event will also recognize the CMA Mentor of the Year, Student of the Year and Credit Executive of the Year.

The event will be preceded by the Credit Executive Symposium on March 23 at The Island Hotel. The one-day event for senior credit executives of national and global companies, offers facilitated discussions and workshops on the high-level and trending topics in credit management.

CreditScape Summits are offered in the Fall and in the Spring, focusing on different aspects of the Credit Management landscape. It is one in a series of in-person educational opportunities offered by Credit Management Association. To learn more about the other sessions and topics, visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events or call 800-541-2622.

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.

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.

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.

Using Predictive Analysis to Create Collection Management Strategies, by Christopher Rios

Traditionally, debt collection involved little more than picking up the phone and convincing the debtor why they need to pay for the products/services sooner rather than later. Today, credit and collection professionals are being asked to adopt more sophisticated techniques. One of the newer techniques utilizes predictive analytics to create collection management strategies. Predictive analytics permits creditors to identify at-risk A/R and focuses collection efforts on those customers with the greatest propensity for paying slow. This combination of historical AR data and predictive attributes will allow creditor companies to review and optimize their resource allocation, provide improved customer service, and to accelerate cash inflows. By doing so, creditor companies potentially reduce unnecessary costs across the credit to cash cycle and accelerate payments from high risk customers.

Inevitably, even the best collection strategies fall short at times. An organization’s fail-safe shouldn’t be to write off uncollectible receivables against its bad debt provision and move on. What is sometimes overlooked is the need for and the benefit of having a robust third party process for dealing with debtors that cannot or will not pay. Third party strategies should include bankruptcy administration, pre-litigation, litigation and mediation strategies.

Establishing a solid process that provides prescriptive treatment for dealing with non-paying, financially distressed customers will help creditor companies maximize the benefits of the third party services being provided. Ensuring you’re maximizing your return on investment and increasing the chances of recovering unpaid accounts receivable are two benefits of partnering with the right service provider.

This topic will be covered at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas as I lead the discussion on creating a robust third-party collections process. For more information about the conference, visit www.creditscapeconference.com. I hope to see you there.

Christopher Rios is the Group Leader – Finance Operations for Dun & Bradstreet. He will be speaking at the CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18, at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

Phone Power: “The Psychological Advantage” to Improved Collections, by Bart Frankel

In my 20+ year career as a collector, I’ve learned that there are psychological advantages you have collecting your past dues that can separate you from the hundreds of other collectors trying to collect money from a delinquent account. From experience, I’ve developed a six-step process to improve my own collection techniques that does not follow the conventional thinking on collection but allows for “out of the box thinking” and is relevant for all levels of collectors covering from the “rookie collector” to a top collection expert.

Some of those steps involves a “partnership” with a delinquent account to eventually having them paying on time. Through this partnership/six step process, for example, (1) I never ask for money. I make my collection statement and wait for an open-ended statement from the delinquent account. (2) I also ensure professional office conduct before, during and after making the collection phone call.

I’ll be one of the speakers at the upcoming CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18, 2015 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where I’ll be discussing the full six-step process that has worked for me, and for dozens of other credit managers who I’ve shown the method to.

If you have any question please contact me at 860 668 2297 EST or email me at bnfrankel@cox.net

I look forward to meeting you in Las Vegas.

Bart Frankel, who was Manager of Financial Service for the Pratt & Whitney Division of United Technologies for over 20 years, has been responsible for a $7 billion Order-to-Cash process. He will be speaking at the CreditScape Fall Summit, September 17-18, 2015 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. For more information on the event, visit www.creditscapeconference.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.

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

 

Because “That’s the Way We Always Did It” Doesn’t Cut it Anymore, by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator
Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

To change successful formulas or brands takes courage. Sometimes it works (Datsun becoming Nissan), sometimes it doesn’t (remember the “New Coca Cola”?). But in this current environment, where you can close or lose a multi-million dollar deal by touching an app on your phone, being passive will leave you behind the crowd.

For that reason, CMA is taking an aggressive approach with its new CREDITSCAPE Summit. CreditScape is unlike any other education activity CMA has ever offered. For one, the topics were created from feedback direct from CMA members about items they need to know. It focuses on only one topic (collections), and covers it thoroughly. If your idea of an educational event is to sit and passively watch a PowerPoint presentation given by someone pushing a product or book, this is NOT for you.

CreditScape will present collection options, not by a vendor pushing their services, but by credit managers who are actually using them so you can hear about their experiences. It will allow you to break into small groups and brainstorm various scenarios and hopefully come up with better ways to run your collection department.
CMA is offering workshops, role playing, a collaborative approach to learning instead of the standard classroom style for the credit and collection manager and their staff.

The event takes place September 17-18 is the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.

Brainstorm with your peers, hear their procedures, tell them yours and then divide into smaller groups and address the issues presented. Leave Las Vegas with some solutions to your collection issues and real-world case studies, ones that you can implement immediately.

All credit professionals are encouraged to look over the agenda for the conference and decide if you’re ready to learn the latest in collections by being a participant, not a spectator.

You can register now at www.creditscapeconference.com

I hope to see you in Las Vegas.

Larry Convoy
Lead Group Facilitator
Credit Management Association

Registration now open for the 2015 CreditScape Fall Collections Summit

CreditScape Fall Summit Logo

Registration is now open for the 2015 CreditScape Fall Summit, which will focus solely on improving attendees’ collection practices. The conference, a collaboration with commercial collection partner AG Adjustments (AGA), takes place September 17-18, 2015 at the newly renovated Tropicana Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, featuring two days of hands-on workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals.

Register now at www.creditscapeconference.com

CreditScape will be unlike anything else CMA has ever done before because:

  • It takes a different approach to a conference in that it focuses on only one topic, and covers it thoroughly
  • CMA members have asked for more information on collections
  • The summit takes a different approach to learning by collaborative exercises with other credit managers in a workshop approach instead of the standard classroom style
  • CMA members’ input will comprise the curriculum, to give credit professionals exactly the content that they need.

Topics will include:

  • Effective collections communications strategies
  • Understanding the AP process & cycle at a member company
  • The “Collection Prevention Department”: Collection mitigation tools like UCCs, Liens, and Credit Insurance
  • If my company sells internationally, how can I collect the payments? Where to go for information on collection protocols for other countries?
  • How to leverage automation for better collection results
  • Developing and managing a third-party collections process: insourcing, outsourcing to third party agencies, legal, and bankruptcy administration
  • Using data and analytics to drive collections effectiveness
  • Power phone collection techniques
  • Collections best practices tips
  • Advanced Collection Techniques (Pre and Post judgment) and when to use your collection attorney
  • Bullet-proofing your credit application to make it enforceable
  • Legal compliance and best practices: Standards for commercial collections, including personal guarantees
  • How to hire and retain the best collectors: Interview techniques, skills you’re looking for

A complete schedule of topics, including speaker information, will be announced during the summer. Credit professionals can visit CreditScapeConference.com to register now.

President’s Blog: Why I’m Excited About the CreditScape Fall Summit, by Mike Mitchell

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

I am really excited about our newest program, the CreditScape Fall Summit, focusing solely on Collections. First of all, I have to thank all of our members who participated in the CreditScape program development survey. We have received almost 100 responses from you with very valuable feedback on the topics and challenges you feel are important for getting better collection results. We are committed to considering input from our members and creating curricula that addresses your challenges as we design all of our education and training programs.

Additionally, in talking directly with members and subject-matter experts about the main focus of CreditScape, collections, my own view of collections has changed. I always thought of collections narrowly as a process for collecting overdue invoices. I now see it as a broader discipline that begins as soon as a sale is made. So, in addition to the mechanics of making demands for payment, the CreditScape will include many other aspects to ensure timely payments and effective accounts receivables management.

I am also excited about the format of the Summit. I have now attended and hosted probably close to a hundred conference-style events, most of which were in classroom-style lecture presentations. Recently, I have attended several events where a concerted effort was made to incorporate audience collaboration into the learning experience, and when done well, gave participants a much greater sense of value for their time spent, and I personally got a lot more out of those types of sessions. Bringing that approach to CMA, while subject matter experts will still share their experiences with credit practitioners, much of the learning at CreditScape will come from practitioners sharing experiences with each other in workshop-style settings. This might be the perfect opportunity for credit and collections teams to get away from the office for a couple of days to pursue a journey toward process improvement.

Our goal with CreditScape is to provide an opportunity for credit practitioners with all levels of experience and expertise to come together to share successes and solve problems around collections and accounts receivable management. Everyone has something new to learn or something valuable to pass down that could help drive better results. You don’t know what you don’t know, and what you don’t know could be hindering your success.

And speaking of what you don’t know, I mentioned in my last blog that I had enrolled in the Business Credit Principles Online course. Since I am not a credit practitioner by trade, I have learned a lot about what credit professionals face every day, and the myriad of factors that have to be considered before a simple credit decision can be made. Clearly, it’s not that simple, which is why not just anyone with an accounting degree or with a general business background (like me) can perform effectively without a great deal of training and dedication to the profession. The real value in continuing education, even if it’s in an area with which you are already familiar, is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and I have had a great experience with instructor Paul Beretz discovering what I don’t know and putting it to good use.

By the way, I personally valued the Business Credit Principles course so much that I enrolled in Beretz’s Financial Statement Analysis course. Stay tuned…

Save the Date: CMA Announces CreditScape Fall Summit, by Mike Mitchell

CMA President Mike Mitchell
CMA President Mike Mitchell

CMA is proud to announce that it is collaborating with commercial collection partner AG Adjustments (AGA) to bring credit professionals an entirely new experience in collection and A/R management training. The CreditScape Fall Summit, which takes place September 17-18, 2015 at the newly renovated Tropicana Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, features two days of workshop training, expert practical and legal advice, and networking with other credit professionals.

Part of this unique learning approach will involve subject-matter experts and seasoned credit professionals sharing their experiences through interactive case studies, and each session will dedicate time for participants to share their own experiences with each other. Sustainable learning is about shared knowledge and experiences, and this is one way that CreditScape Conferences will keep participants ahead of the curve in an ever-changing credit landscape. This will also be much more interactive than the typical teacher-and-classroom experience our audience is used to.

From discussions I’ve had with members over the years, CMA members are always looking for better ways to manage and maximize recovery of their receivables. CMA’s partnership with AGA has played an important role in satisfying that need, but we saw an opportunity to take that relationship to a higher level. By leveraging AGA’s deep expertise in commercial collections and vast network of contacts and resources in the credit space, we can deliver leading-edge tools, techniques, and best-practices in accounts receivable management. I also want to incorporate the latest techniques in content delivery for adult learners to create a thought-provoking and practical meeting experience that produces valuable take-aways and sustained value for participants and their credit departments.

AGA’s president Mark Gerstel has told me that his company has envisioned producing a training event focused on commercial collections because there is such a need, and that working with CMA on this event gives AGA an opportunity to help credit managers do a lot more to help themselves and help their outsource partners to get better results.

Preliminary discussions with CMA members and industry partners have uncovered various capabilities and core competencies that affect collection effectiveness, including automation tools, the quality of customer investigations and evaluations, building relationships with customers and sales, and differentiated collection approaches for large and small debtors. These are some of the subjects that will drive content and discussion at CreditScape.

CMA’s education subcommittee is currently developing the programming for the event, which is designed to propose best practices and methods to collect receivables from your company’s customers. Details about the program will be announced this summer.

To learn more about the event, visit www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events or call 800-541-2622.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Western Region Credit Conference Early Bird Registration Ends Friday, Aug. 15

I wanted to remind our readers to make plans to attend the NACM Western Region Credit Conference: CreditScape by this Friday, August 15, as NACM members will save $100 on conference registration by that date.

This three-day conference, October 15-17, 2014 at The Palms, Las Vegas, Nevada, offers in-depth education sessions, top-notch keynote presentations by industry experts and networking opportunities with the best and brightest minds in credit and collections.

Changing laws, technologies, and markets continuously alter the credit landscape and make this a must-attend event.

Register now.

Here are FIVE CAN’T-MISS SESSIONS at this year’s event:
• How to Analyze Customer Liquidity
• How to Secure Transactions in Mexico and Latin America
• New Rules, Developments and Trends in Credit Laws
• What the Recent Data Security Breaches of Major Retailers Means to Vendors
• How Exporting Can Increase Your Sales

With 18 breakout sessions geared towards every level of credit professional and risk manager, the CreditScape Conference focuses on the credit horizon and shows you how to navigate the shifting credit landscape.

There’s no other program that offers this level of credit education at this price.

Need to convince your boss about the conference benefits?

We realize that every penny counts and sometimes it’s difficult to convince upper management to invest in your future. That’s why we’ve created a letter for you to download and use to explain to your boss why you must attend this conference.

Download the letter here.

At CMA, we believe that the content of this conference cannot be missed in order to keep up with the changing credit landscape. The question isn’t will you attend, but how can you afford not to attend?