Recently, I got the opportunity to be a guest on FOX 25 Boston to discuss how winter debt can lead to spring collection calls.  Read about our conversation here and watch the video below to hear the full discussion from the Fox 25 segment.

As spring rolls in, so do the bills from winter.

This year due to the polar vortex and a long winter some people are finding that they didn’t budget enough for the extra oil or high heating bills and now they need to prioritize their bills.

If you have fallen behind this winter, your bills may have gone into collection. Here are answers to some of the common questions asked about collection agencies and how to work with them.

What do you do if you get a call from a collector?

The most important thing is to not ignore it. It’s important that you communicate with the agency or the original creditor so you can work to set up an arrangement for payment.

What type of debt falls to collectors?

Any business or service that extends credit can use a collection agency to collect from late paying customers.

What collection tactic red flags should you look for to avoid scams?

A big red flag is if the person calling you will not divulge the name of the company they work for or the company phone number or address. Also, if they threaten you or you do not know what the bill is they are speaking about.

There are federal laws that regulate the collection industry, which prevents them from harassing customers. A reputable agency will follow these laws.

If you are in over your head financially, you should reach out and get help. One site that can help you is askdoctordebt.org. This site is great for financial advice and helping you get your finances back on track.

For the full discussion watch the segment from Fox 25 News in the video below:

On Friday, April 4th, The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals “ACA” was the sponsor of a two-minute consumer advice segment that aired on 210 Independent, CW and FOX stations from coast to coast. The segment, called The Daily Buzz, reached an estimated 77 million households in 156 media markets nationwide.

The segment goes over again, what consumers can do if they get a call from a collection agency.

To learn more about the segment click on the link below and watch the ACA sponsored segment of The Daily Buzz. There’s some great advice for consumers.

http://www.acainternational.org/images/14197/BuzzTalkSegment.mp4

When it comes to working with a collection agency they should always help and not hurt your business. A collection agency can be beneficial to any business, as long as you work with a reputable agency whose morals and ethics match yours.

A few things that could cause a collection agency to be a bad fit for your business are:

  • They do not match the ethics of your business
  • They are disrespectful to your customers
  • You are charged large fees
  • The agency takes a long time to resolve your accounts

So, what makes a good collection agency that will help and not hurt your business? Here are some things to look for:

  • Find a reputable agency that focuses on morals and ethics that match what your company believes
  • They will work with your customers diplomatically and with respect
  • They use a flat fee system as well as other cost effective solutions can save your business money
  • The agency will give you advice on internal procedures
  • They provide ease of use features (For example: APRwebSM is an APR technology that allows customers to add and manage their accounts 24/7)

There can be a lot of benefits to having your business work with a collection agency. Here at APR we work hard every day to help our clients and their businesses.

As long as you work with a reputable collection agency, such as American Profit Recovery, your chances of having your reputation damaged are far less.

For more advice on how a collection agency can help your business watch the video below:

Best Business Advisors

We talk to business owners every day from a variety of fields including contractors, lawn care and medical professionals, who are all busy trying to build their business. We know that running a business can be difficult but if you have the help of these four business advisors you will be ready for anything.

Business Attorney: They will provide vital assistance in every aspect of your business, from basic zoning compliance, copyright and trademark advice to formal business incorporation, lawsuits and liability.

CPA (Certified Public Accountant): Financial professionals who analyze how money is used by businesses, audit financial statements, serve as consultants for tax, accounting, and financial planning. CPA’s are strategic advisors, beneficial to any company looking to grow or increase their revenue.

PR/Marketing Consultant: This advisor will identify ways to bring in customers, critique copy and marketing material and identify and launch new product opportunities. They also may direct and manage your brand, which includes helping maintain your businesses social media pages.

Collection Agency: They will help your business by collecting your late accounts, allowing you to get paid quicker and save internal costs. They will also give your business advice on having a plan for late accounts and can advise your business on ways to save money.

As your business grows with the help of these advisors you won’t have time to worry about late accounts, so it’s important to work with a reputable collection agency, such as APR to help make a difference in your business.

For more advice on business advisors watch the video below:

I had a great opportunity recently to be a guest on an internet radio show that focuses on the green industry; one of our specialties. Lawncare and landscaping professionals work very hard to build and maintain their businesses. If you’re one of them I’m not telling you anything new.

We work with countless professionals in this industry and one part of their business that really puts a damper on growth is their accounts receivables.

On landscape Live talk Radio, I had a great chance to go over what a landscaping or lawncare professional can do to overcome some of these challenges in getting paid on time. I offer some solid advice on how to diplomatically collect on overdue customers and even how to keep those customers after the collection process.

Take some time to listen to the show here:

And if you’re one of these professionals that struggle with your accounts receivables, we’d love then chance to show you how we can help. Just give us a call.

Making the Right Decisions

Prosperous decisions are logical not emotional. This simple sentence is probably hard to swallow for business owners and I completely understand why. It was your passion that cultivated an idea which grew into a blueprint that ultimately matured into your business. It was your drive, self-sacrifice and yes, your emotion that has built your company into the success it is today. After spending the past decade studying and working with high level decision makers, I can confidently say that the best decisions are made without emotion.

We don’t have to look very far to find examples of corporate greed (emotion) influencing high profile and brilliant leaders causing the demise of either them or their companies. Kenneth Lay of Enron, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco and let’s throw in Martha Stewart just for fun. Now granted, these are very extreme examples, but it was illogical and emotional decisions that caused their downfall.

Working with small business owners on a daily basis, I also see many examples of emotional decisions trumping logical ones and hurting the bottom line.  A prime example of this is the business owner that gets burned by a few customers and decides to stop extending credit. This strategy may seem like a resolution, but it’s going to hurt in the long run.  Providing services on credit attracts new customers and keeps current customers satisfied.  Credit makes business arrangements convenient and the majority of customers don’t expect to pay before a job is completed or at the time of service.  When ease of use is combined with quality service it leads to customer retention and increased profits.

When invoicing for services rendered, make sure to have clearly defined payment terms and due dates. If payment is not received, have a plan in place and a collection agency to fall back on.  Don’t burn extra resources and time chasing bad debt based on frustration or emotion.  Let your collection agency do the work for you.

Nothing builds good will faster than being a well-respected member of your community. Whether you are a small business and your community is a town or region, or you are a large business and your community is anywhere you do business, including the internet.

Businesses that treat their customers well are usually rewarded with good word of mouth marketing, which is something that cannot be bought. Those businesses that don’t have good customer service are also given word of mouth but in a very different way.

So why is a collection agency telling you this?

Actually it’s pretty simple. If you are in business you will at times have customers that pay late or in some cases do not pay at all. If you know anything about building a business you know how hard we all work to get new customers, so keeping them is something a business needs to do.

The way you treat those customers who may be behind in their payments to you goes a long way in keeping that customer and can prevent bad word of mouth which can have a negative impact on your business.

So how do you get more assertive in your collections without destroying your good reputation?

Be respectful. While there is certain wording and terminology you want to use with your communication with your customers, the way you speak and interact with them when trying to get them to pay is critical. Try to listen to them, be respectful and try to understand their situation.

Never be rude, and never threaten them. Always try to work out a diplomatic solution to the problem.  While many businesses may just write off the customers who do not pay we think you have an opportunity to save the customer and prevent bad word of mouth.

If you couple your respectful collection efforts with a collection agency that has the same values, like American Profit Recovery your chances of getting paid quicker and keeping your customers are greatly enhanced. And they may just tell a friend how well you treated them.

American Profit Recovery was founded on a belief that no matter the circumstance everyone should be treated with dignity and respect. For more information watch our video below.

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Saving for a Vacation

Living in Massachusetts has a lot of perks, including a vacation destination on the east of the state.  Cape Cod or ‘the Cape’ as it’s known to the locals, is less than an hour drive from my house.  Great perk in the summer when you want to jet down to the beach for the weekend!

Winter on the Cape however is generally pretty desolate, but it’s great if you are looking to spend some time away on a budget.  Sure, you wouldn’t want to swim in the ocean but you can take advantage of some great deals the hotels and inns are offering.

Friends of my husband and I called before Christmas asking if we wanted to take a weekend trip to the Cape after the New Year  to an inn that in the summer we would never be able to afford.  With money being tight around Christmas after all the gift giving we tried to figure out the best way to get the most out of the weekend while wanting to enjoy our time and not worry as about much we were spending.

First, we decided to only buy small gifts for Christmas and make our weekend away our big present to each other.  This way we weren’t spending a lot of money on gifts and a trip.  Second, I was able to find a deal online for Friday night from an online shopping site and since I was on the mailing list for the inn I was able to get 35% off the second night.

Next, we decided to roll all of our coins.  For many years I have saved all of my coins instead of spending them, ironically when I met my husband I found out he did the same thing.  Each year we wrap the coins (yes we do it ourselves, our bank does not have a coin machine and I will not spend a percentage of the money I have saved to have a machine count them for me) and then deposit the money in our saving account.

It took us two nights and one extra trip to the bank for more coin wrappers but in the end we had just shy of $700!  For us, saving our coins has been a great way to pay for trips or put the money towards something else we have wanted but felt we shouldn’t spend the money on.

Next time you are at the store and the cashier asks if you have change, let them know they are interfering with saving for your next vacation!  How much can you save in the New Year!

It’s critical for a business to stay on top of their receivables and it’s equally important to partner with a reputable collection agency sooner rather than later. Due to the importance of this subject we have put together some advice for businesses.

One solid fact about getting paid for your services is that the longer you wait to implement a collection procedure, the harder it is to get paid. Early intervention is a major factor in getting paid. The longer your bill stays out of the mind of your late or non-paying customer, your chances of getting paid are greatly reduced.

Sending out invoice after invoice without creating a sense of urgency with the customer proves to be ineffective in the long run. You need to be assertive when the customers don’t pay. But don’t be aggressive.

Having a plan of action when your customers don’t pay is critical, your plan needs to have those follow up steps early on in the delinquency to be affective. These steps can be a personalized demand letter, a gentle reminder by phone, or both.

Also, you need to have an established relationship with a reputable collection agency such as American Profit Recovery. If you have a pile of receivables on your desk and you don’t use a collection agency with a good reputation you are leaving money on the table.

Most businesses hold off on using an agency when they know they should be using one for two main reasons. The typical high cost of a contingency agency, and the fear that their patient, customer or client may be mistreated or alienated.

American Profit Recovery has programs that allow you to use our services earlier that are not only cost effective, but also respectful of your customers. By using our Tier I flat fee system our team stands ready to assist you very quickly and at a cost that won’t deter you from using a collection agency. You’ll also get exclusive use of our APR web system that allows you to enter accounts 24/7. You will actually save time and money and get paid.

Take a look at the video below to hear more tips from Jeff:

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Our customer service department works with clients on receivables and collections on a daily basis. Some advice they give our clients for this time of year is to make sure your bill is a priority for your customers.

During the holidays people tend to overextend themselves, and spend a lot of money, so there are a lot of bills out there. Also, with winter there are a lot of other expenses out there including snow removal and heating oil. It’s important to let your customers know that you expect to be paid before they make other financial commitments.

The longer a bill is out there the harder it is to collect. As time passes people prioritize their bills differently. If they are in the habit of putting your bill as a lesser priority it is easier to do that month after month.  Other times the customer is able to justify that they are doing the right thing being late with a payment. They may think you don’t mind or that you are okay with this.

So, how do you make your bill a priority?

It starts with communicating with your customers internally, making sure you are staying on top of them, getting your statements out regularly and making your regularly scheduled phone calls. If you have reached out to customers a few times and you are still not getting a response it may be time to get a third party involved.

If you use a third party and stay on top of your customers they will realize that you need to be paid on your terms. This time of year you may want to use a collection agency sooner in your process. If you normally wait until 90 days maybe this time of year you should use a third party at 60 days. Early intervention is important this time of year. Make your bill a priority, stay on top of it and get it collected.

Watch the video below to hear more advice from my talk with Austin:

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The information available on this web site is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain legal advice.



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