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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

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 to Survive Year-End, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

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Happy Holidays!

It’s calendar year end and for many of us it is fiscal year end. It is the time of year when we take one last look at 2016 before the year ends. The last-minute dash begins. Calling customers to ensure large/crucial payments arrive on time. Working with the sales team to finalize or confirm any new customer arrangements or existing customer deals that might impact the bottom line. Speaking with management to confirm what the year-end expectations are. Sending accounts who aren’t communicating anymore to a third-party collections agency for their assistance.

Here’s a friendly reminder to please reach out to the folks at CMA if you need assistance. If you need an extra credit report, a last-minute clearance from your industry credit group, help filing preliminary notices or liens, etc., CMA is there to help you get through this last-minute crunch.

As we reflect back on 2016, though there is a lot to do during this time of year, don’t forget to recognize those people around you who help you make it happen. CMA will soon be asking for nominations for several awards including the CBA, CBF and CCE Designation of Excellence, Member of the Year, Member Company of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Instructor of the Year and so on. When the call for nominations comes out, please consider nominating someone you work with, an associate you network with, or one of your personal credit mentors for a CMA award. These awards will be handed out at the CMA Annual Meeting this Spring. If you have any questions about the awards, how to nominate, etc., please reach out to me or the CMA staff.

Lastly, but most importantly, I wanted to thank you for your continued support of CMA through your membership, industry group participation, volunteering, and use of CMA’s services. Your contributions make a difference.

Best wishes to you and your family for a very Happy Holiday season! I’ll touch base in January.

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracy Rosenbach
CMA Chairperson 2016/2017

Here’s to the Unsung Credit Heroes, by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

Greetings! I hope everyone is having a good month. I was at an Industry Credit group meeting recently where I was thinking, nowadays everyone is concerned with saving money, minimizing expenses, etc…, so I decided to write this month’s blog on “How you can be a hero to your company.” As credit managers, we have the responsibility of reviewing our credit reporting services periodically for better pricing and enhancements to the products, similar to you obtaining car insurance quotes in your personal life when your insurance comes up for renewal. Whether you decide to change services or not, it’s always a good idea to be aware of what’s available in the marketplace today.

Here are some questions to ask: Do the reports you currently use include the best information you need to make informed credit decisions? Is there additional data that you’d like to see on the reports you’re using?

CMA is here to help. I encourage you to contact Terry Campos at CMA to help guide you through the process. She is a brand-neutral resource, with 44 years of experience working with NACM and the three major commercial credit reporting bureaus. If you are not happy with the service you are currently using, she will work with you to find another solution so that you don’t have to do this on your own.

I also recommend you participate in CMA’s free webinar series on credit reporting, which begins June 9th. You’ll be able to hear from Terry and reps from the credit bureaus as they talk about what’s new and provide an overview of their products. Sign up at www.creditmanagementassociation.org/events, I believe it will be well worth your time.

You can be a hero by saving your company money and making your job easier by being able to access quality credit information that helps you make sound credit decisions.

I look forward to seeing you at Credit Congress in June!

Tracy Rosenbach

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE, is the Financial Services Manager at Silgan Containers LLC and Chairperson of the CMA Board of Directors. She can be reached at 818-710-3729.

Tracy Rosenbach Named 2016 CMA Credit Executive of the Year

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Tracy Rosenbach, Financial Services Manager for Silgan Containers, has been named 2016 CMA Credit Executive of the Year, at a ceremony which took place at the recent CreditScape Spring Summit and Annual Meeting, Powered by United TranzActions. This award is given to the credit professional who stands above others, who is willing to help out at any moment, which defines Tracy’s role with CMA.  She has been in credit for over 18 years, has served on the CMA board for 7 years and is the incoming chairperson. Additionally, she is Chair of the Membership Task Force, whose mission is to work with CMA staff to create meaningful services for members, and actively participates for the good of all of CMA’s members.  Professionally, she has also been successful in obtaining her CCE certification and who is engaged in many functions for CMA and NACM.

Congratulations to Tracy Rosenbach, and we look forward to a great year with you as the new Chair.

“I Am CMA,” by Tracy Rosenbach, CCE

I am CMA, by Tracy Rosenbach of Silgan Containers
I am CMA, by Tracy Rosenbach of Silgan Containers

“Being a member of CMA has been a great experience for me. I look to the Association for education and networking opportunities. The webinars offered are such a wonderful example of efficiency. There is minimal outlay of resources for maximum benefit. I also attended a one-day session on international credit lead by Eddy Sumar which was fantastic. Attending the Western Region Credit Conference for years has been yet another wonderful education and networking opportunity. I firmly believe that knowledge is the key and it is what keeps us ahead in our profession.

In addition to CMA, our national credit organization (NACM) supports our quest for education in many ways including through the professional designation program. I am a big believer in education as one can tell so that is why I worked toward each professional designation (CBA, CBF & CCE) and finally achieved the CCE designation after several years. Earning the CCE designation was a valuable and useful experience that I reference in my career every day.

Networking is also very important for us as credit managers. CMA provides many opportunities for us to connect and reconnect with one another. Sharing our experiences at venues such as the CMA Annual Meeting or an Industry Credit Group meeting is truly invaluable as a credit professional. CMA provides other services for the credit manager as well. One of the most important things that CMA provides is a staff that cares and supports the credit professionals in our area.”

Tracy Rosenbach, CCE
Silgan Containers LLC
CMA member since 1995

 

“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.