Customer Service … In Person!

I recently had the privilege of leaving the office for part of the day to join a few of my coworkers at the New England Grows Trade Show.  Working in the Customer Service department, we are able to build relationships with clients over the phone, but it isn’t that often that we are able to get out and meet clients and potential clients face to face, so when I was offered the opportunity I jumped at it.  After the day ended I was really happy that I was able to go and wanted to share a few things about that day.

It’s amazing the different reactions you get from people when they see you are a collection agency, and you are at a lawn care trade show!  You get the people who walk by and joke that they should keep walking because we may have their name; unfortunately, you get people who avoid eye contact all together; but then you get to meet our clients, which for me, was the best part of the day.

Clients who are only to happy to tell us how much we have helped them with their receivables, but were happy to share their stories. Clients who were having a hard time getting people to pay for work they had performed, or product they had provided and say to us, ‘Its amazing, I call and call and they ignore me, a few contacts from you guys and they are calling me to pay!’  They are able to not only get paid but maintain their customer base and it is just great to hear it right from them; makes you want to say ‘We told ya!’

One of the highlights of my day was meeting our client Mike and his brother Colin, who run a small family nursery in a small Massachusetts town.  Of course for a client like this, diplomacy is a huge sticking point.  For Mike, who I was able to talk into doing video for our site (check it out on YouTube!), Tier I really worked.  They love the fact that they can work out payments if that’s what their customer needs, and we are not alienating their customers, a win-win situation.

Overall, it was a great experience, and I can’t wait to get back there next year! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Don’t let your cash flow take a vacation

Summer is upon us as well as vacation season and long weekends. And for many that can mean a few critical tasks taking a back seat in your business. One regular task in your business that should stay front and center is invoicing and follow ups. Regardless of the time of year.

One of the biggest factors in any business growing is cash flow. Lack of cash flow is responsible for not only stress in a small business but it can cause a business to go under in no time. Imagine, coming back from a nice relaxing vacation only to find you have very little cash in the bank.

So if you and your staff are planning vacations and time off during the summer, make sure you have a plan and system in place to keep your invoicing current and follow ups on non-payers on a regular schedule.

You’ll also want to consider making sure you have a plan in place to settle accounts that go past 90 days. We say it all the time and it’s a fact; The longer a bill goes unpaid, the more difficult it is to resolve that account.

Just like the holiday season, spending can also go up in the summer months due to vacations and other recreational activities of consumers. That can mean other financial commitments don’t get taken care of as they should. Which can jeopardize your cash flow.

So, the sooner you get serious about getting paid only increases the chances of getting paid for what is owed to your business. Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy family so you shouldn’t be stressed out about cash flow.

Take just a couple minutes to see our video about why getting in the game sooner can drastically impact your cash flow. It’s on the right, under ASK APR.

And contact our team today if you need more assistance in working with your late and non-paying customers.

Did You Miss The Pie Video? More Thoughts On Employee Week

By Ashley

This was my first employee week, and I have to say it was an amazing experience. We ate a lot of food and had a lot of laughs. My favorite part was the ‘mock elections’/company call where I got to put a whip cream pie in one of the manager’s faces.  It was the best way to end the week, in my humble opinion!

And check out the pie in the face video again. You can never see too much of that!

 

Employee Week Was Awesome!

 By Sarah:

Never have I ever felt more accepted and appreciated as an employee than I do at APR.  Employee Week is just one of the many ways in which APR gives back to its employees. Personally my favorite part of Employee Week is getting to spend time with my fellow coworkers, especially those who work in MA and NC, at the many after work events. My favorite after work event this year was when we went bowling after work. I felt like this event had not only had the highest attendance and participation but was also the most interactive.

I believe Employee Week is something unique that APR takes part in that other companies should try to incorporate into their work environments. Not only does it show employees that they are a key part of the company’s successes but it gives time for everyone to get to know their fellow coworkers better. Having the additional time to get to know your coworkers is something I feel has strengthened not only work relationships between individuals but personal relationships here at APR as well.

Overall I feel Employee Week is a fun, creative and effective team and confidence building experience that I hope will continue for many more years to come!

Did you see that Pie in the face video?

Feeling Appreciated- And a Pie Video!

By Matt Helz:

This last week we celebrated employee week at APR.  This is a special event for the employees that the owners have put together to show their appreciation of all the hard work and dedication.

There were many games, events and tons of food to be eaten every day.

This  year, a few events really stood out for me.  1st was the Tiger game-  I was able to take my oldest son who just graduated from High School.  I was a proud father, showing him off to people I work with every day.  What a good time!   2nd  the Owner Breakfast.  The Owners slave over griddles making omelets and pancake’s before the workday starts.  This happened not once but twice during the week.  I really look forward to this every year!

Finally, the awards they hand at the end of the week.  One of the prizes that was handed out this year was an opportunity to put a pie in one of the owners or managers face.  I don’t think there was any doubt, which owner or manager was going to be picked.   It has been a long time since I have laughed that hard.

See that video below!

Employee week is very special to me.  I truly look forward to it every year.

 

The one thing that makes debt collections effective

We don’t feel that we can stress this point enough; being respectful and treating consumers in a dignified manner is not only the right thing to do, but it also goes a long way in collecting more money for our clients. If you are a current client of American Profit Recovery then you know how much we focus on the issue of respect.

But if you have not yet experienced the APR difference, then you’ll want to view the accompanying video. Greg, one of our very first team members when we opened our doors, explains our philosophy in under 90 seconds. Either way, you’ll want to hear Greg’s message.

In the past ten years, American Profit Recovery has set the tone in respectful collections. Our team builds trust with those we come in contact with every day. And because of that, we collect more; it’s that simple.

Being effective does not mean a collector has to be aggressive or unfriendly. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Effective debt collection is done through a mutual understanding, a respectful dialog, and a willingness on both sides to come up with a solution to an issue that has the potential to harm both the consumer and the business that’s owed money.

We go to great lengths to find just the right team members that truly understand our mission of being respectful and keeping our clients in business. Our team understands our short term goal is to collect the money a business is owed. But our long-term goal is to keep that business financially healthy through cash flow.

Greg is just one of many team members here at American Profit Recovery that knows what our mission is and how important it is for both sides to come up with a solution that helps both business and consumer.

Collector’s Challenge Raises Over $2,300

If you’ve been following us for any length of time then you know we like to raise money. And yes we do collect money because that our business, but our team also loves to bring in money for several worthy causes and initiatives. From Cancer charities, jumping in a Lake in the middle of the winter for Special Olympics and funding Veterans causes, our team hits a home run every time.

This past April our team participated in the Annual Collector’s Challenge to raise money for the ACA Education Foundation. They raised over $2,300 by paying to dress in casual in the office, a March Madness Bracket event and fun games throughout the office. This brings our total over the past seven years to well over $12,000.

The ACA Education Foundation funds scholarships for those in the credit and collection industry. Why is this important? Well for one, it works to dispel that image of uneducated people trying to collect money. Many in our company have advanced degrees and use them wisely to help create solutions to a person’s debt problems.

The Foundation helps those that want to grow professionally, build a career and make a difference in the industry. These are the types of professionals we like to bring on board here at APR. For those who get scholarships from the foundation, they want to grow and want to contribute. It’s not just another job to them; it’s a career that contributes immensely to our national economy and to a business’s bottom line. In the end, a better educated workforce in the collections industry helps both the business and the consumer by putting more professional individuals in the business of creating solutions to outstanding debt. In our opinion, it’s money put to very good use.

More on the ACA Education Foundation can be found here:

http://www.acainternational.org/about-foundation-92.aspx

40 Hours (A 20th Century Idea)

When Henry Ford set the 40hour work week precedent in the 1920’s the math made sense. The automotive plants needed to run 24 hours a day to keep up with demand and 12hour shifts were too long for anyone, given the manual labor (work that is physically demanding) he expected from his employees; Notwithstanding the fact that during the industrial revolution there didn’t exist the many distractions of modern day life, dividing the workday up into three equal, 8hour parts made good sense.

Any compensation plan based solely on the number of hours worked is wedded to this idea: Wedded to the idea that no individual can work faster or more efficiently than the worker in front of him, and that everyone is or isn’t distracted throughout the day for the same amount of time. Although this may be true in the context of the assembly line (where you quite literally are waiting on the person in front – or behind you – as it were), we can all agree that no two individuals produce the same quality of work at the same pace given the same duration of time.

There is however, a real and measurable difference between cognitive work and physically demanding work. As you would expect, workers performing physically demanding tasks get fatigued and lose their attentiveness the longer the workday is extended. When you look at cognitive work however, not only is there no ‘perceived’ difference in workload with a 12hour vs. 7hour workday, but subjects actually perform better on tasks as they work more hours (Macdonald, Bendak, 2000)! Additionally, as far as scores on ‘discomfort’ are concerned, they are not significantly different for cognitive work from a 7hour to a 12hour workday either.

Speaking of 40hours per week, the average American (although it varies by age group as you would except) watches between 37-40hours per week of television! Even if you are on the low end, chances are you spend an additional 7 hours per week surfing the web.

When you look at the average individual’s priorities in any given week and couple it with Cyberslacking (see also ‘Goldbricking’), which according to Salary.com is the leading source of wasted time on the job, the results are even more shocking. A 2007 survey found that companies stand to lose 435 million dollars a week (yes, that’s per week) during football season from employees playing fantasy football alone!

The majority of employees report spending between 2-5 hours per week surfing the web or otherwise Cyberslacking (think smartphones too). There are many reasons given as to why this occurs, but ultimately they are all rationalizations for the pre-existing behavior, behavior that is counterproductive in the workplace and costly for employers.

Think about that for a minute, with a 40hour a week schedule, the average person is only working 35-38hours per week!

A 40 hour work week is a 20th century idea, that’s the point I’m looking to make. If you are a salary or commission employee ask yourself the following question. Do I only work 40hours a week? If the answer is yes, are you satisfied with your results, is there nothing more you would like to accomplish?

This blog is not an attempt to discredit every employee who works 40hours per week; certainly most people are hard-working individuals which is how they got to where they are. The idea rather, is to bring attention to priorities and distractions. The goal is to shed light on what makes one individual more productive than the next, more profitable than the next, more successful than the next. Working more hours is only a piece of the puzzle. Distractions are another. If your job dictates that you can only work 40hours a week, then spend more energy focusing on reducing distractions and making the most of your time. If, on the other hand, you can work more than 40hours a week, then you should. In doing so, focus equally on reducing distractions and increasing your time investment, and get more out by putting more in.

Here’s what I hold to be true and I think my fellow cohorts at American Profit Recovery would agree. If you want to make more, then work more. If you want to be seen as a leader among your peers, then work harder. If you want to both make more and have the leadership title, then work more and work harder while you work more.

Parting words: Be grateful for what you earn and have the ambition to accomplish more. Revel in your achievements, but dismiss the demon of complacency that is comfort.

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security…all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”    – Jon Krakauer

National Small Business Week-Tips for Getting Paid

National Small Business Week is May 4-8 this year. As a popular saying goes, small business is the backbone of our economy. And if you look at the past several months of Jobs Reports, you don’t need any more proof. Small business has led the way in job growth for many months and the trend continues as our economy gets back on track.

A small business is classified as any business that has under 50 employees. But many small businesses have far less than that. And the resources they need to conduct a whole host of tasks can be limited because many are serving the customer, as they should.

This is far too often the case when it comes to getting some customers to pay on time. In many small businesses, the accounts receivables program can be improved and certain parts of that program can be outsourced.

Here are a few tips for getting your small business receivables back on track:

Good Information: Always obtain good information from anyone your business extends credit to. That can be for a product, any type of service and in the case of medical and dental, it can be a co-pay. Anytime you have to invoice a customer, you are essentially extending credit. See our video on what types of info you should get from a customer.

Invoice on time: We just can’t say this enough. Many times when we speak with a small business, we find that invoicing can be sporadic. A small business relies heavily on cash flow so it’s vital to make sure that invoicing is done on a regular basis. Whatever that interval is, stick to it.

Get help: By outsourcing your accounts receivables, you can save your small business time, money and a whole lot of headaches. Your staff can focus on making customers happy, you can grow your business and in the process, your cash flow will improve.

For more on our experience with small business, check out a past video we did on the subject.

 

 

April Is Financial Literacy Month- Tips To Stay On Track

April has been designated as Financial Literacy Month. It’s designed to help educate anyone on the practical ways in which we all need to manage our finances. It’s also meant to educate those struggling with various issues of debt and how to navigate their responsibility to those they owe money to. In the video with this post, we have a number of tips that can assist aconsumer when trying to resolve an issue with a debt collector. It comes straight from one of our veteran collectors and its worth sharing with anyone you know who may need assistance.

Financial Literacy on Orange Puzzle on White Background.

Financial Literacy on Orange Puzzle on White Background.

As business owners and those charged with the task of accounts receivables, we all know how important it is for consumers to pay for a product or service on time. If not, the business suffers and in some cases, has challenges meeting their obligations; a domino effect.

Each and every one of us has had to pay a debt at some point in our lives. But it’s the manner in which we meet our financial obligations that builds a solid foundation for our financial lives. And as you can imagine as a collection agency, our team deals with a whole host of situations when it comes to late and non-paying consumers.

The short answer when asked how to work with a collection agency is to communicate. When a consumer is willing to communicate with the creditor and work out a resolution, in most cases, the issue is resolved without any further action. And that is a win, win for both the business and the consumer.

We have a number of great suggestions by one of our veteran collectors on how to increase the chances of a successful outcome when working with American Profit Recovery or other collection agencies. Take just a few minutes to view the video but more importantly, share this with anyone you know that may be struggling to meet their financial obligations.

Another great resource in which we highly recommend and endorse is the website Ask Doctor Debt, http://www.askdoctordebt.com/ which is an incredible consumer resource for anyone who has questions around how to get out of debt.

Financial literacy is a combination of saving money, spending wisely and meeting our obligations. And with the proper discipline and focus, anyone can be smart about money.