How Antitrust Laws Affect Your Credit Functions, by Michael C. Dennis

Penalties for violations of applicable federal or state antitrust laws can include fines, imprisonment, and liability for up to triple damages. How do antitrust laws affect day-to-day credit decision making and business activities? To what extent is pricing and payment terms subject to U.S. antitrust laws? Is it a violation of one or more antitrust laws to offer Customer A payment terms of Net 30 days and a direct competitor of Company A payment terms of Net 60 day? Are cash discounts an element of price? In other words, if we offer a 2% early payment discount to Company A, must we offer that same discount to its competitors?

It’s time to do a self quiz. I think the answer to one or more of these questions may surprise you. Did they? As always, I welcome your feedback.

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

What to Do When You’ve Reviewed and Rejected a Request For Open Account Terms, by Michael C. Dennis

Let’s assume you have received and reviewed and rejected a request for open account terms from an applicant company. What would you do if that applicant called and demanded to know the specific reason for your decision? Would you:

  • Ignore the request, or
  • Might you offer a response such as this: “Your company does not meet our credit granting criteria”, or
  • Would you provide a more detailed explanation (and if so what information would you provide)

I think the answer is in part an internal policy issue, and in part a legal question based on relevant federal and state laws. I assume each of us has a process for handling this question from an angry applicant. I would be interested to know your process and your rationale for it.

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

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

Can the Credit Department Reduce (or Withdraw) Open Account Terms?, by Michael C. Dennis

In business-to-business credit granting, can the credit department withdraw or reduce open account terms at any time for any reason or for no reason? I think most people would say ‘Yes’. In my opinion, the answer is ‘Maybe’. For example:

  • You cannot reduce or withdraw open account terms if the decision to do so is based on factors including Race, Religion, Age, or Sexual Orientation.
  • You cannot reduce or eliminate open account terms if there is a law that prevents you from doing.

You might respond that this is not the case in the United States. Assuming that is true, my question is this: Are there laws limiting your right reduce the credit limit in the other countries in which you do business?

If you have a contract with a customer that limits or prevents you from taking unilateral action in connection with lowering the credit limit, then obviously the actions of the credit department in this regard are constrained.

What are your opinions of this subject? As always, I welcome your feedback.

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

Michael C. Dennis is the author of the Encyclopedia of Credit, 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

Should a Credit Manager Request Personal Social Security Numbers?, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. Dennis

In a recent post on LinkedIn, a question was asked about If, When and Why B2B creditors such as CMA members request or require Social Security Numbers from credit applicants. (https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/2412088-6014193760244690945?trk=groups-post-b-title) At the time, I posted two responses in which I posed questions for CMA members in connection with the laws governing the use and the protection of SS numbers.

As I read through the other comments, I saw that several credit managers did routinely ask for them, while others were vehemently opposed to doing so.

Now that some time has gone by, I would like to offer the following additional comments for members who obtain SS numbers from applicant companies:

• Create strong policies and procedures about If, When, Why and Which applicants will be asked to provide their Social Security Number.
• Make sure your attorney has reviewed these policies and procedures and has confirmed that your actions are lawful under applicable federal and state laws.
• Publish these policies and procedures, and then enforce them.
• Create a robust mechanism to ensure there is limited access to customer SS numbers and related information.
• Assign one or a limited number of employees the task of safekeeping and safeguarding SS numbers.
• Be sure there are consequences for employees if policies, procedures or safeguards are ignored for any reason.
• Understand the potential costs of a data breach involving personal information including but not limited to SS numbers.
• Understand the disclosure requirements and the remediation obligations and out-of-pocket costs in the event of a data breach.
• Make sure you have a compelling business reason to obtain SS numbers and consumer credit reports.

Where do you stand on this issue? As always, I welcome your feedback.

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 consultant, and the author of “Credit and Collection Forms and Procedures Manual” as well as 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.

12 Tips to Becoming a Better Business to Business Credit Risk Manager, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. Dennis

Even the most experienced credit professional can become a better risk manager. From the novice to the professional, learning new skills is crucial to ensuring that the risks of late payment or customer bankruptcy are mitigated. These simple tips are worth considering:

  1. Expect to Find Something Negative in each Customer Financial Statement You See
    Perform every review as though you expect to find something wrong/problematic. Doing so ensures a more thorough analysis, and may prevent overlooking a problem. If you don’t find one, check your work!
  2. Learn to Listen to What Your Collectors Tell You
    Let your collectors tell you what they think about their customers. Listening to them helps you be a better credit manager.
  3. Review Your Credit Policy Periodically
    When explaining difficult concepts internally, refer back to the written credit policy.
  4. Understand Various Risk Mitigation Strategies
    Credit pros need to have more than a basic understanding about a variety of different risk mitigation strategies, including ( but not limited to) the use of guarantees, letters of credit, the use of collateral or security and credit insurance.
  5. Make Every Phone Call a Learning Experience
    It is crucial to make every discussion with a delinquent debtor a learning experience. Learning what does and does not work well for you over time is an important learning process.
  6. Always Be Aware of What Your Collection Results are Telling You
    One of the primary measurements of your overall effectiveness is reflected in the Accounts Receivable aging report. To be a better manager, you need to know what your aging report is telling you.
  7. Ask for Help
    Never be ashamed to ask for help. Pride has probably cost more CM their jobs than any other factor. If you are not sure, seek help.
  8. Shorten Turnaround Time
    Take every opportunity to try to determine how to shorten turnaround time on decisions and actions taken by the credit team.
  9. Slow Down If You Feel Rushed
    Rushing will cause you to make mistakes. If you begin to feel rushed [example, by the salesperson] stop. Slow down, walk away, consider or reconsider your position.
  10. Precision is Critical
    To be a better CM, you want the actions taken by the Credit Department to be exactly as you expect it to be; not approximately what you expect to happen. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that your standards are not declining over time.
  11. Continuously Refine
    Make changes in your department by making multiple minor tweaks rather than one big change, and by giving members of the department numerous small nudges as opposed to one big push in the right direction.
  12. Ask Questions
    It is impossible for even the best credit professional to know everything. Things happen from time to time that you don’t understand. If something makes you uneasy or looks unfamiliar, look it up or ask about it.

What would you add to this list? I welcome your feedback.

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 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.

Puppets and Puppeteers, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. Dennis

Collectors often make the mistake of talking to “Puppets,” those who are not authorized to make decisions, and are surprised and disappointed when a Puppeteer working at the customer company overrides, overrules or ignores the payment commitment provided by their Puppet.

In a credit manager’s world where the norm is to deal with “puppets,” how do you determine whether you’re working with a Puppet or a Puppeteer? In my opinion, the solution is relatively simple. To the extent that the person you normally interact with in the customer’s accounts payable is able to keep their commitments, they are Puppeteers. If the debtor company does not honor the commitments you receive, this is a clear indication that your contact is not ‘pulling the strings.’

When this happens, the obvious solution is to make sure that in the future you speaking to and receive commitments from a Puppeteer, not a Puppet.

Food for thought: One of the key “unwritten” benefits of being in an Industry Credit Group is that your peers may be able to reveal the name of the “Puppeteer” to you. How do you reach the “Puppeteer?” I welcome your feedback.

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 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.

It’s a Goal, by Michael C. Dennis

In today’s metrics-driven business world, just as sales managers are accountable for their monthly quotas, credit departments need to have goals.  Credit managers should select goals for the credit department that are simple to measure and report, as well as easy to gather consistently and frequently.  Goals should focus on quality rather than on quantity, and on performance, not on effort alone.  The scorecards used to measure the performance of individuals within the department should be auditable.

The scorecard used to measure the credit department as a whole needs to be published regularly.  It needs to be accurate, transparent, and repeatable. Even with goals and metrics and scorecards in place, the credit department must continue to focus on aligning its activities to the company’s priorities to demonstrate its ongoing value to the business.

Credit managers, do you publish your goals as well as your results?  Should you?  As always, I welcome your feedback.

Michael 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 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.

What’s the Bad News?, by Michael C. Dennis

Credit managers manage risk. Therefore, I think credit managers need to actively seek out “bad news” from their collectors. Small problems can be used as opportunities for credit administrators and collectors to learn more about how to manage risk and collect past due balances more effectively and more efficiently. It’s clear that credit administrators are far more likely to report good news than bad, but that tendency is exacerbated when managers tend to either (a) shoot the messenger, or (b) ignore bad news or (c) cannot offer advice and guidance about how to address and resolve the problem.

One resource that CMA members have to help them seek out this “bad news” is the Industry Credit groups which are intended to help companies in the same vertical market get the most complete picture available about their customers.

Actively seek out bad news and use the information as an opportunity to learn, and to train others, and to improve processes and procedures.

Have you used CMA’s Industry Credit Groups? Did they help? As always, I welcome your feedback.

Michael 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 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.

Understanding your Customers, by Michael C. Dennis

Michael C. DennisHow many different types of customers do you have? The way I see it, the credit department has at least three customers:  (1) The Sales Department, (2) their Company’s Senior Management, and (3) The Customer.  Business gurus may differ in opinions and approaches to customer focus and customer orientation, but these truths about customers are timeless:

  • Customers have choices.
  • Customers have expectations.
  • Customers have influence.
  • When your customer has a request or a problem, they expect your response to be timely.
  • Customers expect to interact with knowledgeable and professional credit team members, and that the information they receive will be accurate and helpful.

Do you know what your Customers want?  Do you provide everything they need?  Can you provide better or faster service to your internal customers [meaning to Sales and Senior Management]?  If so, when will you start doing so?  And is there any reason you cannot start today?

As always, I welcome your feedback as well as your questions, comments and constructive criticism.

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.

The Value of Networking, by Michael C. Dennis

Consider this example. Two credit managers, both with similar resumes, are vying for the same position within a company. Who gets the job, since both candidates (at least on paper) are so similar? The answer is easy: the one whose resume was hand-delivered to the boss’ desk by their contact, who works at the company.

Some individuals prefer to let their work speak for itself, and they trust others to recognize their worth.  This sounds good in theory, but falls short in practice.  In a difficult economy, one of your goals should be to increase your visibility through networking.  Gone are the days when you’d apply to a blind ad in the newspaper and then get the job. With trade associations and social media set up to help you be a better networker, now more than ever there are numerous ways in which the credit pros can increase their visibility.  Here are some ideas for doing so:

  • Participate in one or more industry credit groups
  • Volunteer for leadership positions inside and outside of your company
  • Be the first, not the last person to volunteer for special assignments at work
  • Always attend optional company-sponsored events
  • Attend trade shows and industry functions, such as the CMA Annual Meeting or Western Region Credit Conference, and participate in the receptions and networking activities
  • Build up your LinkedIn profile and participate in LinkedIn groups specific to your area of expertise, such as the Credit Management Association LinkedIn group
  • Become a powerful resource for the members of your expanding network by positioning yourself as a thought leader

Do not assume that hard work alone will get you noticed.  The value of networking is more important than ever. Make networking a part of your routine.

What are your most valuable networking activities, and why? As always, I welcome your feedback.

Michael 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 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.

If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Anyway, by Michael C. Dennis

With the so-called “information age,” the business landscape is very different than it was 10-15 years ago. Lots of things are happening faster than ever before: speed to market, speed at which your customers demand information about your product, venues of where your products are sold, decreased budgets (read: do more with less resources) and more data than ever before now available about your customers, and that just scratches the surface.

The conventional wisdom is not to change anything until you are forced to do so, but sustained competitiveness can only come from improved productivity. Improving productivity requires change. Unfortunately, no matter how good or how well-reasoned or how well-documented a proposed change might be, some people on your team will resist it anyway.

In this changed world, it’s necessary to completely evaluate everything you’re doing as a company and be ready to answer the WHY question: “WHY are you doing this task, and how does it add to the whole project?” If you cannot answer the question, it’s time to let go of that project in favor of one that does have an answer. “We’ve done it this way since before I was here” no longer is a good enough answer.

As a manager, lead by example. Change is not easy, but when your staff sees the benefits firsthand of process evaluation, though it may be hard for them to adapt, this evaluation process will (slowly) find its way into your corporate culture. Remember, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Have you had any experience in your organization with process changes? We’d love to hear your stories.

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.

Credit Manager Lessons Learned from Watching the World Cup, by Michael C. Dennis

Like many people, I’ve been watching the World Cup soccer matches (time permitting). For whatever reason, I’ve been trying to draw insights from the competitions that are applicable to the workplace. Here are a few I’ve come up with:

  1. It pays to be a winner
  2. Teamwork is critical to your success…
  3. …So is having a good game plan
  4. Don’t become overly reliant on your star performers
  5. Even the most unlikely members of the team can become superstars
  6. Inappropriate behavior can result in red cards [or pink slips]
  7. We have to think more globally
  8. The best teams have the best coaches
  9. Winning is always a team effort
  10. Sometimes, it pays to be aggressive

In sport or at work, there are many things you can accomplish if you remember this: everyone on the team has the same GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL.

How do you choose to manage your team? As always, 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.

In the Dark, by Michael C. Dennis

Your company’s pricing is predicated on certain assumptions about risk mitigation, payment delinquencies and bad debt write offs. Even with customer financial statements in hand, the credit decision can be complicated and the answer may be unclear. Without customer financial statements, you are truly in the dark about the amount of credit risk you are accepting.

We all recognize how limited a credit evaluation must necessarily be without customer financial statements to evaluate.  I am not suggesting that you should never make decisions in the absence of customer financial statements. Instead, I’m suggesting that if you must go into the dark, do so with your eyes wide open.

CMA offers some tools that can help “shed some light” on that amount of risk.  By utilizing the reporting services that CMA offers, such as those by D&B, Experian and Equifax, plus its own anscersX reports, anscers RFI service, and industry credit groups, you will get a more complete picture of the factors that could affect the amount of risk your company would want to take on.

I never like to fly blind. How about you?

As always, 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.

The True Cost of Hiring Good Credit Professionals, by Michael C. Dennis

A friend of mine was told by a headhunter that she was overqualified for a position.  What does it mean?  Usually, it is code for: (a) you are too expensive or (b) you are too old.  If we give the hiring company the benefit of the doubt, we are left only with (a).

In my experience as a consultant, many companies fail to understand the potential costs of a bad hiring decision in credit management, which include but are not limited to:

•         Higher bad debt write offs [not risk averse enough]
•         Missed sales opportunities [too risk averse]
•         Higher DSO and A/R carrying costs [inadequate follow up, or poor negotiating skills]
•         Damaged goodwill [with customers, and internal customers such as Sales]

There is an old saying:  If you think it is expensive to hire a credit professional, wait until you hire an amateur.

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.

Make it a Good One!, by Michael C. Dennis

Sometimes brevity is best.

Most accounts payable clerks receive more voice mail messages than they can (or are willing to) respond to.  When making a call, if you must leave a message, make it a good one!   Your message should be clear and unambiguous.  You should indicate that your message is urgent.  Be sure to say that it is essential that they respond immediately to your important message.

Your time is valuable. So is that of your customers and co-workers. Keep that in mind.

What are your best tips to get your messages heard and responded to?

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.

What’s in a Job Title, by Michael C. Dennis

A friend of mine recently added something new to the signature line on her emails.  They now read:  Dana Keating, LCP.  You know how some people [including me] are afraid to ask questions for fear of showing weakness and ignorance.  Well, I finally asked about her new LCP designation.  Dana told me I am also entitled to use it, and to “tell a friend.”  LCP is the acronym for: Lowly Credit Professional.

So my friends, please consider yourself told.

What’s in your job title?

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.

Don’t Delay Dealing Decisively, by Michael C. Dennis

I was just re-reading my recent blog post about career limiting mistakes, and thought I’d add this insight that applies to anyone who is a manager.

Don’t delay difficult discussions with your subordinates relating to performance or behavior problems. Doing so tends to de-motivate and demoralize other members of your team who are usually watching carefully, and will be quick to note when such a problem is not managed effectively. Managers can lose the respect and confidence of other direct reports if they delay dealing decisively with problematic employees.

In this case, I’ve used alliteration to make a point: if one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch, don’t let that bad apple be you.

What trait do you believe makes the most ineffective manager? 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.

AVOID CAREER LIMITING MISTAKES by Michael C. Dennis

I was recently thinking about the lessons I’ve learned in my experience as a credit manager, and I thought I’d share them with you. This is the advice I’d give to both a new and veteran credit manager.

You can avoid many mistakes by following these guidelines:

  • Admit when you make errors, correct them as quickly as possible, and learn from them.
  • Always complete assignments on time.
  • Arrive early for meetings, or at the very least be on time.
  • Don’t be a know-it-all.
  • Don’t embarrass your manager in meetings or in writing, and never go behind your manager’s back.
  • Focus on adding value.  Doing only what is required is rarely a good long-term job strategy.
  • If you disagree with your boss, before sharing your POV, ask if they want your opinion.  If the answer is No, follow the instructions you received doing so is illegal, immoral, improper or potentially harmful to you or others.
  • Invest in your continuing professional education.
  • Keep your commitments.
  • Know how much authority and autonomy you have.
  • Make sure your communications are clear and concise.
  • Never complain about your manager at work.
  • Recognize the importance of adapting to and adopting the cultural norms in your workplace.
  • Remember that what others say is not always what they mean. For example, and depending on who is saying it, the phrase: “Please try to complete this assignment as soon as possible” may actually mean “Do it now!”
  • Shore up weaknesses before they hurt your future prospects, or your reputation.  For example, consider whether your presentation or public speaking skills need improvement.

You’ve heard my list. What would you add?

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.