Next Supplier Risk Group Meeting to Provide Strategies to Manage Your Suppliers

If your responsibilities include vetting your vendors to ensure the steady supply of raw materials or services to your company, you need to join the next teleconference meeting of CMA’s Supplier Risk Credit group to provide strategies to assist you in managing your suppliers.

On August 29 at 10am, we will have two guest speakers. First up is Gary Mendell of Meridian Finance, who will be providing an international supplier risk update on topics including international supply-chain issues updates, assessing the reliability of vendors in other countries, and protecting advance payments against non-delivery from abroad.

The second speaker will be Nick Vyas, an expert in supply chain management, who will address establishing a vendor risk framework. Mr. Vyas is the Executive Director for the Center for Global Supply Chain Management, the Academic Director for the MS in Global Supply Chain Management, and an assistant professor of clinical and data science and operations for the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Whether your essential suppliers are in California, the U.S. or worldwide, any interruption in the Supply Chain can have a devastating effect on your company.

For more information on how you can join this Group discussion, contact Larry Convoy at lconvoy@emailcma.org.

How PACA Can Protect Your Produce Customers

PACA (Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act) is the federal law which applies to interstate and international trade in fresh and frozen produce. If you sell fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, herbs or roots into the U.S. or between states in the U.S., then the PACA law almost certainly applies to your dealings with your receiver, consignee, broker or buyer.

On Wednesday, September 5 at the Produce Market in Los Angeles, we invite you as a guest to our upcoming Produce Dealers Industry Trade Group meeting to hear Don Blake from the U.S. Department of Agriculture discuss PACA. Mr. Blake will cover:

  • How PACA can protect your business from problems receiving payments from your customers
  • How PACA can help protect your business from payment disputes such as refusal to pay
  • …and much more!

At the end of the presentation, Mr. Blake will allow time to answer your questions about PACA.
You won’t want to miss this free informational seminar.

TO RSVP, contact Larry Convoy at 818-972-5323 or lconvoy@emailcma.org

Wanda Borges Explains Anti-Trust Issues and Why CMA Industry Credit Groups Exist

Those who attended a past CMA webinar learned some valuable information on how to steer clear of possible violations of anti-trust laws. The session, entitled “Navigating the Antitrust Rules: Myths To Dispel And Realities To Understand,” was presented by Wanda Borges, Esq., of Borges and Associates, LLC, who is an advisor to CMA on a range of legal issues relevant to business credit.

Borges discussed the three main federal statutes that pertain to antitrust and restraint of trade practices. They are the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914, and the Robinson-Patman Act of 1936. She said the Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits contracts, combinations and conspiracies in restraint of trade in interstate commerce or with foreign nations. The act makes it a felony to conspire to restrain trade; or to monopolize (or attempt to monopolize). The Clayton Act was passed, she noted, to correct defects in the Sherman statute and further makes it unlawful to enter into any of several specified types of prohibited transactions whose purpose or
effect would be to restrain trade or injure a competitor. Robinson-Patman was partially an amendment to The Clayton Act, making it unlawful to “discriminate in price between different purchasers of commodities of like grade and quality” or knowingly to induce or receive a prohibited discrimination in price. She added that violations of this act could result in civil or criminal penalties.

Credit terms are tantamount to price, Borges noted, according to a 1980 Supreme Court decision. “Anytime you fix or adjust credit terms you are fixing a price,” Borges said. She pointed out that allowing a customer to pay in 30 days gives that customer the use of that money for that period and is of monetary value. “There is a big difference between C.O.D. and credit terms.”

In determining if an action constituted a conspiracy to commit an action that resulted in a restraint of trade, Borges pointed to four elements that must exist. There must be knowledge of all the parities, a common purpose, an actual restraint of trade and intent to restrain trade. She presented an actual example—where a movie distributor, in a written communication to 7 movie theaters, required a $2 increase in movie ticket prices in order to continue
getting first-run movies. She noted that six of the theaters complied by raising their prices while the seventh resisted and sued the other theaters and distributor for restraint of trade. The argument presented to the court by that
theater was that the economic status of the neighborhood in which the plaintiff’s theater was located could not sustain a ticket price increase. Therefore, the ticket price increase would render the theater incapable of
presenting first-run movies. The court ruled that the arrangement was a restraint in trade by the defendants. “You have to watch very carefully you don’t get roped into a conspiracy…,” Borges advised.

“You always have to keep in mind what price fixing is all about,” she said. “You have to charge the same prices to same quality customers.” She noted that different terms could be set for customers of differing qualities, however: “If one customer has a superior credit history you can give them a discount.”

The exchange of credit information is perfectly legal, she added. “You may exchange information—and today you are exchanging more information electronically. I heartedly recommend that when you exchange information you do not do so on the telephone, because that information can be misinterpreted.” Another way that credit information can be shared is through credit (industry) group meetings. However, she noted that these meetings must be run under strict guidelines that prevent the exchanging of information or comments that could be a violation of antitrust laws. “CMA runs credit group meetings exactly by the book,” she noted.

One of the critical things participants must observe during such a meeting is that any remarks relating to a customer be confined only to completed transactions. Any comments relating to intended future actions are not allowed under antitrust laws, she noted, such as saying, “I will never sell to that customer again.”

“You can’t say that,” Borges said. All you can say is “I’ve cut them off’. I’ve placed them on a credit hold.'”

Credit group meetings should have a written agenda that is followed, she said, and noted that the agenda and the minutes of the meeting should be kept on file. She also cautioned against holding any meetings outside
the scheduled credit group meetings: it would even be illegal to discuss future price or credit terms with other competitors regarding a customer in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A new rule in federal court requires complete disclosure of all electronic data pertaining to cases. Borges noted that even if an e-mail or other electronic document has been deleted on a computer it may still be retrieved. “What we think is gone, a forensic computer examiner can find,” she advised. “Be extremely careful what you transmit electronically.”

How Your A/R Data Completes the Picture, by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

I recently sent a letter out to CMA’s group leaders and volunteers for the upcoming year talking about the biggest challenges we’ll face over that time period.

I told them that this year holds many of the same challenges that commercial credit grantors faced previously with the added pressures to industries affected by the California fires and the so-called “retail apocalypse.”

Our belief at CMA is that the major component of a successful Industry Credit group is “member participation,” both online and by attending the meetings/conference calls.

For the 3rd consecutive year, we have been able to revitalize several Industry Groups by getting more members to contribute their A/R to the CMA data bank. This industry-specific data has increased the information on the anscers report which resulted in providing a more complete picture of the vertical markets that they participated in.

Did you know that companies that contribute their A/R:

  • NEVER have to respond to RFI’s, as the system will automatically look for your trade information
  • NEVER have to fill out their Past Due Report or Meeting Review Report, as CMA will automatically extract your information
  • Receive an additional 5 FREE CMA credit reports, bringing your total to 10/year
  • Create an industry-specific data bank that can be accessed 24/7

We encourage all group members to contribute. It will save them time and can result in a reduction in any third-party credit reporting contract they have.

An increased data bank, timely alerts, comprehensive RFI’s, packed meetings, engaged members and interesting best practices discussions make for successful groups.  A successful group will have the most complete information and will save everyone $$$$.

Feel free to call upon me throughout the year to assist in any way I can. I want the groups to be as successful, and as complete, as possible.

Sincerely,
Larry Convoy
Supervisor-Industry Credit Groups
818-972-5323
lconvoy@emailcma.org

What Are You Bringing to the Table at Your Credit Group Meeting?

Recently, CMA hosted an Industry Credit Group meeting where there were only a handful of accounts listed in the past-due report, but the members who attended that meeting told us afterwards that it was one of the best meetings they’d attended. I suppose you’re probably asking yourself why, when the account discussion only lasted 15 minutes, would they say that? Quite easily. Everyone in the meeting brought something to the table.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the meeting. The Group read the antitrust statements and the handful of accounts from the report were discussed. A couple of members chimed in with payment experience about some of those accounts. Then the Group had a round-robin discussion about other accounts they either were having trouble with, or were so new that they didn’t yet enter them into anscers. During that part of the discussion, most accounts that were brought up were common accounts with someone in attendance, and everyone who attended was able to bring valuable information back to their department.

Arguably the most valuable part of the discussion followed, with the discussion topic of the month which segued into a 30-minute best-practices discussion on credit card acceptance in that industry. Everyone in the meeting discussed their company’s experience in accepting credit cards, from beginner to expert, and it was easy to see the value of attending this meeting, judging by the “a-ha!” moments I could see on attendees faces when key discussion points were brought up.

I know that every credit professional is very busy, and in rare occasions you may not have any accounts to bring up for the month’s meeting. Remember, a great Industry Credit Group meeting is more than just an accounts discussion; it’s the opportunity to speak firsthand with those in the same industry as you to see what processes they’re using, to understand their credit policies and procedures and walk away with processes that you can implement in your own business. In this particular example (and I’ve heard countless others like it), this type of information is not available anywhere else except for the Group meeting.

I remind you that even if you don’t have accounts to bring up this month, bring a best-practices question to the meeting or a solution that the others may not have thought of that’s helped your credit department. Your attendance at the meetings is valuable in that you could learn something from your competitor, or present something that could spark another important half-hour discussion.

What will you bring to the table at your next meeting?

When Talk is Not Cheap, by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

We have all heard the expression that “talk is cheap.” Here’s an instance when it’s not: whenever 2 or more competitors get together to discuss the terms of business. In that situation, the potential to cross over into prohibited topics could put all companies at risk. That is one of the main reasons that you have chosen to protect your company by joining an industry credit group facilitated by a representative from CMA.

Your CMA representative monitors all group discussions to ensure compliance with the three statements read at the beginning of each meeting, Anti-Trust, Confidentiality and Anti-Defamation. CMA Group Facilitators have all been trained, certified and are responsible during the meetings (and extending to those conversations in the parking lot) to assure that all members adhere to the guidelines set forth by the government. We listen for any suggestions to restrict free trade or for any attempt to try influencing another’s decision to sell or not to sell an account. If the conversation drifts in that direction, your CMA rep will shut it down.

Sharing historical, factual data on common customers is perfectly legal. We encourage group members to bring new credit applications, slow paying customers and accounts sent to legal to the meeting to alert other members, who will in turn share similar information about their customers with you. The trust built up between competitors allows them to participate honestly and share information in good faith as long as only historical and factual trade experiences are exchanged.

So the next time your attempt at humor is shot down by your group facilitator, think if the punchline falls into one of the 3 statements read prior to every meeting. If it does, he or she has steered your company away from litigation with fees far exceeding the cost of membership for years to come.

We, at CMA, know that your time is valuable, that you are probably wearing more hats then in previous years with a reduced staff. Wasting time is not an option. Our job is to provide a comfortable environment free of distractions for you to gain knowledge, network and to get you back to the office so you can process what you learned quickly, and in turn make quicker, educated credit decisions.

Without a governing body like CMA overseeing your monthly get together, talk could be very expensive.

What is the Information in the Group Reports Not Telling Me?, by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

Having just completed a very informative Industry Credit Group call, I thought for a minute of the companies that did not participate on the call. Most of them contributed accounts to the monthly Past Due Report, many with considerable dollars in the 90-day past due column. That satisfied one part of their group responsibilities, yet by not attending, they lost out on valuable trade info about the accounts they had reported.

Had they been on the call or at the meeting, they would have heard two industry leaders give vital information on accounts they listed. They reported that they no longer sell to that account because of extreme slow pay, information not on the report but of great value. Had they been on the call or present at the meeting, they would have also heard about a major problem affecting payments on a large construction project that many suppliers are involved in or sell to a company who is. Again, this information was not on the report but of extreme importance. In fact, because the people on the call were major players in the industry, they knew something about most of the non-attendees reported accounts.

Numbers on a report do not always tell the entire story. Were you aware that there is a new A/P person at ABC Electric or that a Home Deport opened across from Acme Hardware causing a 60% drop in business? Did you know that a mutual customer is only cutting checks once a month or that Smith Food got hit with a large Tax lien? Information like this is routinely exchanged on these calls/meetings.

Only by attending the meeting/call can you be sure that you are getting the complete picture on the financial stability of your customers. The information is there for the taking. Insist on it by making it a priority to be at every group event and asking questions.

The answers might just save your company $$$ and you major headaches.

CMA Industry Credit Groups, Your Best Search Engine, by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

My kids find it hard to believe that when I was in school, the place you went to find answers to your homework or to gather information for a paper was the Encyclopedia Britannica. This was several thick books with information on anything you needed, although the accuracy depended on what edition you had. My edition claimed the US had only 48 states.

The current generation has it much easier since Google came along, just enter, click and multiple results appeared with everything you needed.

Your membership in CMA and an Industry Credit Group makes it just as easy. Have a question on Chapter 11 BK; call the CMA Adjustment Bureau. Need an effective Demand Letter, go to the Encyclopedia of Credit. If it is the most current trade information on a customer, draw an anscers report or enter an RFI. Looking for accounts receivable software that is credit friendly, poll your group. Need to further your credit education, CMA has that covered.

If you utilize CMA and the Industry Credit Group as your primary search engine for all credit related issues, the results will reduce your time and expenses.

It will not be necessary to pay your corporate attorney an hourly fee for researching Bankruptcy questions that CMA can answer for free. Whose recommendation means more, salesmen trying to sell you a $100K computer system or someone in your group performing the same job as you using the system? Need to file Lien, get a D&B, place an account for collection, take a financial statement class, start your search with CMA.

You have the support of a Business Association that has been around for over 130 years. Behind each tab on the anscers home page are people waiting to assist you.

Whether you have been in credit for 30 years or 30 days, there are laws and procedures that are changing daily. CMA membership guarantees you the most current edition.

Why Are There No Pictures of Credit Managers, by Larry Convoy

As I travel around making visits at member companies, I am constantly amazed how many of the lobbies are shrines to the Salesperson of the Month or Regional or District Team of the Quarter, or some like group. Being in sales, I know how difficult it is to achieve and maintain some of these goals, so I certainly do not harbor any ill feelings for this recognition.

My question is, where are the pictures and accolades for those who open, investigate, monitor and routinely babysit the account so that the customer continues reordering and the sales team earns their plaques on the wall? Is management aware of the contribution you are making to this effort?

Do they know that information from CMA’s Group alerts prompted you to put the account on COD months before the BK, thus saving the company major dollars? Are they aware that knowledge picked up at a CMA Lien webinar or protection you gained by placing a lien through CMA’s lien services department showed you how to protect your rights and receive payment when others did not? Do they know that by analyzing credit reports, you were able to raise the credit limit and therefore assist the sales team in making their numbers?

It is not a violation of group confidentiality to inform senior management that their investment in CMA and the group has resulted in major savings or increased revenue. By informing them routinely how THEIR decision has benefitted the organization, you will have an easier sell at renewal time or when you wish to attend an educational event or possibly at your annual review. If you are not going to tell them, who will?

I look forward to seeing your picture prominently displayed as a valued member of the team.

Why it’s Important to Participate in CMA (and How You Should Participate), by Larry Convoy

Larry Convoy, lead group facilitator

If your Industry Credit Group is anything like some of our other groups, your participation has never been more vital to your company.

We are seeing the super stores (Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, etc.) taking a very substantial market share from the small- to medium-sized businesses. Amazon and other internet-based sites are making it easy for anyone to order any product regardless of where they are located. The days of neighborhood stores and reliable customer service are being replaced by free shipping and easy return policies.

The best way to stay ahead of this trend to protect your company is by participating daily in your industry credit group.

By posting alerts, you not only send out a warning, but it might trigger another member to look at their aging and see the same customer slowing and now a pattern develops. This is exactly the scenario that saved members of the Underwater Sports group from large losses when two major sporting goods companies filed BK in 2016. Post your alert at the first sign of slowness.

By requesting and responding to RFIs, you get a complete picture of the customer you are dealing with. Can the customer handle the total outstanding balance on the report? How is he paying his other suppliers?

The third advantage you have is the monthly meeting/ conference call. There is no other profession where companies share trade and Best Practices with their competitors for their mutual well-being. The meeting is about 90 minutes including lunch, the calls are usually half that time. There is no task that can be performed in that time span that could have a greater financial effect on your company.

There are some extraordinary people in CMA’s groups that know that if they pick up one piece of information at a meeting, on the call or through an alert/RFI, it is time well spent.

The date or call in number is located on your group home page on www.anscers.com. Plan on participating at your next meeting and throughout the year.

Chairman’s Blog: Sharing is Caring, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I can’t help but think of how we teach our children the concept that “sharing is caring” as they are growing up. We hope over time this lesson fosters acts of generosity and kindness, and it turns our kids into quality adults. In our profession, sharing information is crucial to our success. Attending industry credit group meetings gives us that bit of real-time information that often we cannot get from a credit reporting service or the internet.

There is nothing like being able to speak with another credit professional in your industry to find out about a mutual customer. Of course, there are guidelines which we need to follow when discussing customers (past activity only).

The group my company belongs to has an attorney present during all discussions and social activities as a precaution. In addition to obtaining customer information, Industry Credit Groups encourage networking, which is an important aspect of growing in a profession. By talking to others, we find out more about our particular industry, educational opportunities and ways in which we can expand our own knowledge base and ultimately better help our companies make sound credit decisions.

If you are not already a member of a Credit Group, I strongly encourage you to contact CMA to find out about an industry credit group that would be appropriate for your company. If you are a member of an Industry Credit Group, fully participate and help it to grow. Look out for other companies that would benefit from being a member of your group. There is a real strength to an industry group that has high participation, plenty of members and solid leadership.

And while we’re in the giving spirit, I encourage you to nominate individuals who you believe are moving the credit function forward with one of the honors and awards categories that CMA will be recognizing at its Annual Meeting in April. It’s really easy to nominate someone, and it’s a great way to show your appreciation for a fellow credit professional who constantly leads positive discussions at your Group meetings or consistently helps other credit managers. CMA is an association made up of an amazing group of people like you who are dedicated to helping the other credit professionals in our areas.

Thanks for reading!

Best regards,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

How CMA Group Members Helped Conquer Hurdles Associated With Payment Portals

 

Over the years, we have sat in on numerous Industry Credit Group meetings, each with a unique membership structure, and almost all have the same challenges. Recently, during one of the meetings I attended, the members communicated that they were having a harder time collecting their money since their customers recently introduced a new “payment portal” for them to submit their invoices for payment.

For many credit & collection professionals, payment portals are nothing new, but for some these portals can be confusing. Here are just a few problems that were identified:

  • invoices weren’t compatible with customer portal
  • invoices are being skipped
  • capacity issues, as some portals cannot handle large volumes of invoices
  • invoice status are not always up to date
  • fees are being charged to process invoices
  • there is nobody to speak to when you can to follow up on an invoice that was short paid or skipped

Many credit professionals do realize that there are benefits to both sides when we leverage technology to expedite things. However, they also know there must be good communication and reasonable expectations on both sides for these programs to work.

This is just one example of how belong to an Industry Credit Group can help you navigate these various cash flow challenges. During the meeting, Group members shared their experiences and have given examples of how they have effectively navigated these payment channels to get paid.

Does your company belong to an Industry Credit Group? If you don’t, please give us a call to see if there is one that will help your company get paid faster.

President’s Blog: CMA Membership Budget Guide for 2017, by Mike Mitchell, CAE

 

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

All too often, our members tell us that they want to take advantage of all of CMA’s benefits but they say they do not have the budget to do so. For companies on a calendar fiscal year, here’s your opportunity to begin planning for those budget worthy benefits for 2017. Even if your next fiscal year extends well into 2017, it’s never too early to start your wish list.

If your company is one of the 600+ members that participate in one of CMA’s 51 Industry Credit Groups, then you know how valuable it can be to have unlimited access to anscers Credit Reports, RFIs, Credit Alerts, and the knowledge and experience of other credit professionals in your industry. In the past year, CMA group members have submitted more than 45,000 RFIs, warned other group members with more than 6,800 Credit Alerts (which included NSF and bankruptcy information), and shared countless stories about best practices in credit. Many credit group members have reported that they still find their credit groups and the shared trade payment experience the fastest and most economical way to conduct timely due diligence on prospective customers and effectively manage existing customer accounts. The unique combination of industry trade data, insider knowledge about common customers and industry best practices often recoups your dues many times over in helping group members minimize risk and grow revenue.

Before you budget, consider whether you are getting the best value possible for your credit information needs. Let CMA’s experts help you analyze your current credit reporting product mix – we might be able to save you money (and help you get better results) by suggesting a different report or mix of products that better meet your company’s risk assessment requirements while staying within budget. In addition to credit bureau contracts, CMA has several transactional credit report products priced to deliver maximum value at minimum cost. We have also seen usage for the NACM NTCR increase significantly over last year. Only CMA members have access to the millions of tradelines in the NACM National Trade Database (many of which are only available in this report), and at only $14.95 each, the NTCR reports are a great value for an initial credit check. CMA’s anscersX multi-bureau report combines proprietary scores and data elements from all three major credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax) to give you a comprehensive look at the payment history of your customer or prospect ($69 per report). Be sure to budget for some anscersX reports to supplement your existing credit reports.

If you are a construction supplier, consider how using CMA’s Lien Filing Service can save you time and money. With more than 30 years of experience providing services ranging from preliminary notices to lien warning notices, mechanics liens, bond claims and stop notices, CMA has hundreds of clients across the United States who value the personalized, unlimited support from CMA’s caring and knowledgeable staff. You might be interested in CMA’s new Construction Credit Report, providing title data, public record data, active trade lines, credit analysis and scores, collection agency activity and links to state contractor information. The report, which is the only all-inclusive report of its type, runs $29.95 per report.

CMA’s collections partner, AG Adjustments, offers third-party collection services at competitive rates on a contingency basis.

If you’re looking for professional development help for your staff, CMA is again offering NACM Certification Courses for the CBA (Credit Business Associate) and CBF (Credit Business Fellow) designations starting in January. These will only be offered once next year, unless there is sufficient participation for additional classes. If you plan to get certified in 2017 or early 2018, you’ll need to register for the Certification Courses now and budget accordingly ($899-$995 per course). Information for all professional development events can be found on CMA’s website and on anscers.com under the Education tab.

CMA will continue to offer its standard webinar program, which includes several series on topics such as collections, advanced lien law and credit reporting. Our webinars typically cost $49 for CMA members and $69 for non-members, but some may be free to CMA members, depending on the topic.

We hope this list is helpful as you consider your needs for 2017.

Are there other credit-related services that you’re looking for that we currently don’t offer? Feel free to reach out to me by responding to this blog. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to your increased participation with CMA in 2017!

How Did the Underwater Sports Credit Group Get Started, Keep its Original Objectives and Continue to Thrive?, by Larry Convoy

How does an industry credit group get started, keep its original objectives and thrive? Take the case of 55-year-old CMA Group Underwater Sports.

On July 12, 1961, representatives from Healthways, US Divers, Voit, Swimmaster and Sportsways held the first official meeting of the newly formed Underwater Sports Equipment Credit Group facilitated by Credit Management Association. These pioneers knew that in order for this industry to grow, manufacturers and retailers must establish guidelines for extending credit, investigating and monitoring new and existing accounts and have a governing body to oversee that all state and Federal laws regarding free trade were adhered to.

Fifty five years later, this group is still instrumental in the industry utilizing the most current technology to insure that the original mission statement, which emphasized “looking for the latest methods to expand the business and the sport of diving,” is applied to each transaction.

Over the last twenty to thirty years, we have seen a dramatic change in the industry. The ownership of retail diving stores has transitioned from the businessman to the hobbyist. Manufacturers have expanded their product lines to encompass other sports and seasons and the group has gone from manual and paper reporting to entirely electronic. Information that took days to distribute now is instantaneous through the click of a mouse.

What has not changed is the value of the group to all in the industry. For the manufactures, having an immediate resource to verify a retailers credit worthiness, to the “Good Paying Account,” an opportunity to have more product lines available through positive payment experiences and to the “slow paying account,” the ability to deal with their suppliers to work out any problems or issues in order to maintain the flow of product needed to sustain the business, are all reasons the members keep coming back.

The diving industry suffered a major hit losing two of this nation’s most respected sporting goods retailers in 2016. Through the exchange of information, the members of the Underwater Sports group were able to identify certain trends and reduce their exposure considerably. A look at the list of the 20 largest creditors reveals that many Non-Diving manufacturers were not as fortunate.

As we conclude another diving season, we invite those manufacturers not participating in the group to investigate the benefits. For further information, contact Larry Convoy at lconvoy@emailcma.org or 818-972-5323.

Goodbye to Another Old Friend, by Larry Convoy

It seems that each month, a different industry feels the pain of losing one or more of their big players. It started in the Electronics industry a few years with Circuit City, moved over to the Grocery chains, department stores and last month it hit the Sporting Goods industry with 2 majors closing their doors. Besides having an impact on those who are losing their jobs, the amount of revenue these Big Box dealers generated may have been the only thing keeping some manufacturers profitable.

Fortunately, the members of one of our industry trade groups saw some warning signs several months ago and took action. They made this account a permanent one for meeting review, meaning it showed up as an RFI every month automatically. They monitored newspaper stories and internet reports and had their group facilitator distribute. They made it a regular account clearance on all conference calls, shared any information they received and individually took action to reduce their company’s exposure. A conservative estimate shows them being 3-5 months ahead in identifying trends than non-members.

As a result, they are in a better position to absorb any potential loss, certainly in a better position than some non-group members who have large exposures because they were not involved in the discussions over the last several months.

Many times when we approach a potential group member, their response is: “I only extend credit to Fortune 500 companies.” I am sure that those dealing with A&P, Haggens Food, Circuit City, Sport Chalet, Sports Authority, Blockbuster, Borders and Radio Shack to name a few all felt that they had a good handle on it.

We congratulate our industry group that identified a potential problem and took steps early to reduce their pain. The small financial investment they made in joining and participating in a group has paid off handsomely.

As we start a new “group year” with our new fiscal year beginning May 1, we encourage you to use all the tools CMA has to make sure you have the most current information on your customers, large and small.

Thanks for reading!

You Make the Call, by Larry Convoy

We are just barely into the year 2016 and already I am hearing excuses as to why the credit manager cannot attend the industry credit group meetings to which they belong. They range from the receptionist is out to my controller wants me to stay and call customers.

Attending credit meetings provide your best Return on Investment by reducing bad debt loss, identifying slow paying accounts, and lowering your financial dependence on credit reports I contend that blindly calling a number in your system is more time consuming and less efficient.

Calling for dollars requires preparation

  1. Are you calling a specific person or a/p?
  2. Who is the person who controls the checkbook?
  3. Is there a gatekeeper blocking you?
  4. Have you previously left voicemails?
  5. Who does that person report to?
  6. How often do they cut checks?
  7. Are there orders in house or on hold?

A good group can identify numbers 1, 2 and 5 & 6. And supply a direct extension to avoid # 3. Number 4 tells you how important you are to them and you know #7.

I say it every month. Group Meetings are not social events for the credit manager, they are an attempt to maximize your company’s revenue. If you bring the names of past-due accounts that you will be calling for money to a meeting, I guarantee you that the information you receive will increase your percentage of recovery significantly.

You are now ready to call for dollars. You have all the facts you need and this should be resolved in one call. Feel free to contact me at lconvoy@emailcma.org if you’re not in a group and I’ll help you identify one that might be a good fit for you.

Welcome Back, by Larry Convoy

To some, January 1st is like the first day of school. Everything starts out fresh and clean (even though I know many of your fiscal years start at different times of the year). For those group members who attend and contribute regularly, the beginning of the year is just a continuation of what you have done in the past.

However, some of you have not attended your Industry Credit Group meetings in months (and for others years) and you may feel a bit embarrassed showing up. Others may not be in an Industry Credit Group at all.

As someone who has facilitated meetings longer than many of you have been alive, let me inform you that nothing could be further from the truth. Your contributions and attendance will be welcomed by all, whether it is at a meeting or joining a conference call. By including your trade data and credit knowledge, the other members have more information to make informed credit decisions. The real embarrassment would be you opening an account that the other group members have previously discussed and determined individually to be risky.

There are two ways to increase the value of an Industry Credit Group; bring in new members and bring back current members who have for whatever reason, have gone astray. Either way, EVERYONE WINS.

As we begin a new year, we ask you on behalf of the other members of your group, to commit to attending each meeting/call, to contribute daily through alerts, RFIs and monthly if your group has a report. Take your calendar and mark off the meeting days for the entire year so nothing else can be scheduled during that time period. Prepare the accounts you wish to discuss prior to the meeting and any topic you would like to bring up. Let’s make 2016 the Year of the Group.

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

INDUSTRY GROUP STATEMENT FOR COMPANY XYZ FOR OCTOBER, 2015

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

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

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

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

Have a great November,

Larry Convoy

I Am CMA, by Anne Mattson, Tropitone

Anne Mattson, Credit Manager, Tropitone
Anne Mattson, Credit Manager, Tropitone

“‘I am CMA’ covers a wide array of Why I will continue to support CMA with my membership and volunteer as a committee member.

CMA allows me 24-hour access to information on their website. I use their Encyclopedia of Credit as a tool for educating my staff on all aspects of credit, Bankruptcy laws, credit practices, document examples for collection etc. The teleconferences and Credit events held by CMA are educational, enjoyable and affordable for my entire department.

When assessing the potential risk of a new customer, some of the outside reporting agencies information may not be updated for 6-12 months. This allows for errors and potential high risk decisions which could lead to a bad debt write off. I am confident in using CMA’s RFIs and anscers reports, that the information provided is current and precise allowing me to make confident decisions lowering my companies’ risk.

My credit group through CMA has enabled me to continue invaluable relationships with peers in my industry. I have made friends for life who are professional, educated and respect the credit confidentiality as much as CMA does.

I AM CMA.”

Anne Mattson
Tropitone Credit Manager
21 years
“I Am CMA” is a Membership Committee driven initiative to allow members to share the most valuable aspects of their membership with CMA members. The monthly series explores CMA’s different programs and services and how they have helped members. With a full range of business credit services from Industry Credit Groups to credit reporting to construction forms filing services to collections to business insolvency, we hope the series will inspire you to utilize CMA more to help provide information to reduce your company’s overall risk.

For more information on the blogs, or to be featured, contact CMA Communications Manager Alan Dicker at 323-573-0840 or adicker@emailcma.org.

I Am CMA, by Jim Morrow, Davis Wholesale Electric

Jim Morrow - I AM CMA

“As a longtime CMA member, there are two services that I really value. The monthly credit exchange meetings from the Industry Credit Groups provide very valuable information. The accounts discussed may not be on your radar the day of the meeting but down the road a day, a week, or a month, you will have use for what was discussed at the meeting.

In addition to the information gained at the monthly credit exchange, I find the information on the ancsers group reports very valuable in day-to-day decisionmaking. You won’t find that information anywhere else.”

“I Am CMA” is a Membership Committee driven initiative to allow members to share the most valuable aspects of their membership with CMA members. The monthly series explores CMA’s different programs and services and how they have helped members. With a full range of business credit services from Industry Credit Groups to credit reporting to construction forms filing services to collections to business insolvency, we hope the series will inspire you to utilize CMA more to help provide information to reduce your company’s overall risk.

For more information on the blogs, or to be featured, contact CMA Communications Manager Alan Dicker at 323-573-0840 or adicker@emailcma.org.

March Madness, 12 months a year, by Larry Convoy

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

It occurred to me while watching Kentucky annihilate another opponent on their way to a possible NCAA title, that there are many similarities between a championship basketball team and a successful Industry Credit Group.

Both need a strong point guard, someone to lead the meeting, keep it focused and moving forward and keep all players or attendees engaged and contributing. This person must be able to bring the topic back when it gets off track yet not dominate the ball or conversation.

Each must have a big man or major company to go to when the offense is sputtering. This person has all the tools and resources to take the pressure off the other members simply because of the size of their company and their customer base. Just like LeBron James can take control of a game for an extended period of time, this credit representative can go on a run during the account and Best Practices discussion.

Teams and groups need veterans to remind us of the past and to not repeat mistakes. Most groups have a historian who remembers the risky accounts from when they stuck a member 3 Businesses ago. When the pressure is on, they come through.

Both also need a strong bench, role players who will do their job every game or meeting. For a group, it means contributing, entering alerts, RFI’s and attending every meeting prepared and willing to play any position required. Over the years, I have seen many role players develop into stars.

And finally, they both need a coach or facilitator to make sure they are organized, in their correct spot on the court at the appropriate time and work as a team

For in credit like sports, you are expected to win, and losing or LOSSES are not acceptable.

Let’s adopt the Postman’s credo; neither rain nor sleet…, by Larry Convoy

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

I have often wondered how industry groups are able to hold meetings in the winter in the Middle and Northeast parts of the country. Last month, I experienced this when one of my National groups met in Nashville. The temperature went from a high of 18* to a low of -3* with the wind-chill and ice making it much worse. Even under these conditions we had 7 out of 11 members attend. We would have had 9 at the meeting but extremely dangerous road conditions prevented the members from Kentucky and Alabama from driving there.

I bring this up because every month I received emails from members informing me that they will not be able to make a local meeting and conference call for reasons that most would consider trivial. The excuses given that amazes me most was for the conference call. What could be easier to attend, you do not even have to stand up. Yet, statistics show that less than 50% of the members are on the call. Can a group meeting be made any easier?

Let’s compare the time, cost and effort required between the National, Local and Conference Call

  • Time- 2 ½ days vs 2 hours vs 1 hour
  • Cost- $500-$750 vs luncheon fee vs $0
  • Temp- 18* vs Calif/Nevada temp vs your office temp.

Groups only work when everyone participates and contributes. Your company has made a commitment and as its representative, it is your responsibility to fulfill it.

And to those 7 brave souls who agreed with my recommendation to meet in Nashville in February, my sincerest apologies.

…And Seated to my Right…, by Larry Convoy

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

Recently, I discovered that a longtime CMA and group member had played college basketball not far from where I went to school.  A few years ago, I found out that gentleman who sat next to me at a group meeting was a decorated hero from the Korean War.  Unfortunately, both discoveries were a result of reading their obituaries.

Today, with Facebook and Twitter posting everyone’s daily activities, likes and dislikes out there for all to see, I am still amazed at how little I know about some people that I have had lunch with every month for decades at the group meetings. On Tuesday, I discovered that a member had attended the same concert I went to on Friday at Staples Center, the night before in Fresno. Our conversations will now extend past contributing and attending when I call her.

You already share a profession with the people sitting at your niche group meeting. The possibilities are unlimited for other things in common; schools attended, companies worked for, favorite teams, hobbies, vacation spots.

My goal has always been to get more information and participation from the members of groups in an effort to get critical mass. Groups do not have to be just alerts and past dues. For those who insist that we stay focused on Business, consider that forging these relationships might result in some advanced warnings about a problem account.

Take a few minutes at your next group meeting, put down the aging report and find out what movie the person on your right thinks will win the Oscar, or how they got in credit.

Years from now, I don’t want you to read that we were both diehard Yankee fans.

“WE PAY TRIBUTE TO …,” by Larry Convoy

CMA Industry Group Leader Larry Convoy
CMA Lead Groups Facilitator Larry Convoy

Having recently watched Major League Baseball and its fans pay tribute to one of its greatest players, leaders, and ambassadors, the retiring Derek Jeter, it made me realize that we have industry credit group members that have displayed the same loyalty and longevity and should be recognized for their achievements. Here are just a few that come to mind:

  • Candy Royster of Oceanic has served as an officer of the Underwater Sports group multiple times and never misses the opportunity to share information with fellow group members, as she’s done so for over 2 decades.
  • It is difficult to determine if Linda McCarty is employed by Florexpo or CMA by the way she supports, encourages others, promotes the group and simply over many years has exhibited a positive attitude for all involved in the National Wholesale Floral group.
  • There are not many titles that Sandy McConnell of Charleston Auto Parts has not held in her years of involvement in the Las Vegas Materialmens group and CMA boards. She has played a major role in the growth and success of CMA in the Desert.

When constructing this newsletter, I asked our group secretaries for recommendations of individuals who satisfied the “Jeteresque” qualifications, hoping I could get a few names. What I received were over 30 nominees of members who have exhibited the same professionalism, loyalty and integrity as the Yankee shortstop. I wish I had the space to list them all and to express our appreciation for all that they do for the Credit Profession.

Now our challenge is to find suitable replacements for these individuals as they transition over the next few years into a well-deserved retirement. CMA is happy to be working with UCLA Extension in developing the next generation of Credit Professionals through the Credit Analysis and Management Course. This program may become the “Minor Leagues” for upcoming credit people and keep the profession and groups well stocked with quality people for years to come.

For more information on the UCLA program, visit www.uclaextension.edu/credit.

Have a great October!

Sincerely,

Larry Convoy
Lead Group Facilitator
lconvoy@emailcma.org

Keeping Up With the Information Age, by Larry Convoy

Take a look around your office at all the new gadgets you have to assist you in your job that were not available 5, 10, 20 or 30 years ago.  Five years ago, there were no tablet PCs portable enough to carry in your pocket capable of holding the contents of your entire desktop computer. Ten years ago, your mobile phone’s purpose was to dial out and receive incoming phone calls (not to mention they were a lot heavier), now it is a mini computer allowing you to run your business and play Candy Crush while posting status updates on Facebook. Twenty years ago, email began replacing faxes and 30 years ago faxes replaced waiting for snail mail to arrive. You had to go to the library to look up information, and you could afford to wait days to get it. Today, no so much.

Within this timeframe, industry credit groups have changed as well. Thirty + years ago, these groups were 95% male and the liquor bill was double the food tab. Now they are predominately female and iced tea is the drink of preference. All of these changes have provided today’s credit manager with better tools to make decisions, monitor those decisions and react immediately and appropriately.

Why then, has the credit group meeting gone virtually unchanged for the 3 decades I have been attending? My theory is that the system of exchanging up-to-the-minute credit experiences within your industry, sharing Best Practices and networking with your peers provides more valuable data than any technological advances that have been developed to date.

At a June meeting, a member’s inquiry about a new credit application resulted in two responses of pending litigation. In  30 seconds, her work on this file was done, NO credit report ordered, NO references sent, No phone calls made. Clear half a dozen accounts and the hour-long meeting has saved you 8 hours of investigating and updating.

So the next time you scan a file from your IPAD, download it to your IPHONE and email it to your attorney for suit, consider whether this all could have been avoided had you attended your industry group meeting?

Some things just cannot be improved on.

Have a great August
Sincerely,

Larry Convoy
Supervisor-Industry Credit Groups
lconvoy@emailcma.org
818-972-5323

Wanted: People in Your Niche Market, by Larry Convoy

Industry credit groups and networks offer CMA members a unique opportunity to network with other credit professionals in their industry.

From July 2013 to June 2014, credit groups exchanged information on transactions in excess of $3.5B. More than 8,680 companies were discussed with advanced notice on $104.5M in total balances greater than 91 days past due.

Credit Management Association offers more than 60 industry credit groups and networks at the local and national level; including food and beverage, construction, health care equipment and more. Active participation in these groups is rated as a top benefit that the association offers.

CMA has been approached by its members to investigate the viability of forming several new credit networks. Here are the proposed new networks we are researching and developing:

  • Fuel Credit Network: Wholesale Fuel, Seiberts Oil, Boyett Petroleum and Robert V Jensen are looking to expand their credit network of fuel jobbers and distributors selling to stations, farmers and business accounts.
  • Animal Feed and Supply Store Network: With champions from Western Milling and Associated Feed behind the formation of this network, it should fill the void of information on retail feed and supply stores.
  • Supply Chain Management Network: Vendor analysis has become a greater priority with many companies. Two experts in the field are leading the push for this CMA network, we hope to start a Best Practices Bulletin Board in the next 60 days.

In all cases, contact me at lconvoy@emailcma.org or 818-972-5323 if you’re interested in joining these groups (or have any ideas of other ones you think we should form.

Thanks for your consideration!

My Favorite (Hidden) Advantage to Joining an Industry Credit Group, by Michael C. Dennis

There are many benefits associated with joining an industry credit group. In my opinion, one of the best reasons to do so is to make certain that your company’s tolerance for credit risk is similar to other companies selling to common customers.

I am all in favor of leading rather than following, and I fully support the idea that credit decisions need to be made independently and in a manner that does not violate antitrust rules. However, I assume and expect that I will benefit from knowing how other creditor companies have assessed the risk associated with extending credit to a common customer.

I think the opportunity to understand how other creditors evaluate/ assess credit risk is probably the most under-appreciated benefit of credit group membership.

Credit Management Association offers more than 40 industry credit reporting groups. In my career, I’ve been in several groups.  As a result of what I have learned from others, I’ve saved my employer tens of thousands of dollars over the years. How have credit groups helped your company? I welcome your feedback.

Michael is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit (www.encyclopediaofcredit.com), a free, fast, internet resource for credit and collection professionals.  He is a consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as a frequent instructor at CMA-sponsored educational events.  He can be contacted at 949-584-9685.