How is the debt collection industry better today?

All of the founders of American Profit Recovery have spent decades working in leadership roles at nationwide collection agencies, so we’ve seen quite a bit. All of us have at least 25-plus years working in this field and we have seen the progress that any evolving industry has seen in that period of time.

There has no doubt been tremendous development and innovation in this industry and we feel it’s all been for the good of both the businesses that hire collection agencies and the consumers that we contact.

As an industry that has always been misunderstood by many and scrutinized more than others, it’s always important to share the positive movement that takes place on a regular basis both here and industry wide. Continue reading “How is the debt collection industry better today?”

When you have an ongoing need for a collection agency-What you need to know

We have stated it many times here on our blog that if you are running any type of business, you are going to have customers that are either late in paying their bills to you, or at some point, not paying you at all. In a perfect world, customer payments would come in on or before the due date, and no one would delay payments to you. But we all know, that’s not how things work.

It’s a pretty clear assumption that the more customers you have, the greater need your company will have when it comes to having a plan for those late and non-paying customers. In short, more customers equal more late payments. So as a nationwide collection agency that works with clients that have ongoing debt collection needs, we would like to offer a few tips for companies that require more attention when it comes to getting customers to pay. Continue reading “When you have an ongoing need for a collection agency-What you need to know”

Effective debt collections during the holiday season

If you have spent any time reading our blog or viewing our many videos, one thing you’ll take away is that the best way to collect a debt from a customer is to be nice. While we do understand that’s not the only factor in getting your customers to pay, it is one of the foundations in getting people current in their obligations to your business. And it is never more important than during the holidays.

There are so many things going on in our lives during the holidays.

For one, we have all those holiday obligations. One the personal side, we have shopping to do, we need to attend our children’s holiday concerts and school parties and we may even throw a party ourselves for friends. And on the business side, we have our year-end duties such as budgeting, planning for next year, staff reviews and so many other parts of operating a business.

And then of course we have all the spending going on during the holidays which cannot be a surprise to anyone. All this leaves us with an extremely busy and distracting time of the year. Which can lead to all kinds of reasons you’re not seeing cash come through the door.

How do I collect debt during the holidays?

First, recognize that not everyone is trying to avoid you. As we mentioned, and you should be well aware of, these are busy times and it’s probably not just bill paying that your customers are behind in. The holidays place many more hours of activity and commitments on our plates and many people will undoubtedly miss something during this season. Could be a bill, could be a meeting. But in short, we are all busy. So take that into consideration when trying to collect payments.

Be respectful

Once again, if you know us, you know that regardless of the time of year, we always advocate for you being nice to people. Getting upset, raising your voice or creating unrealistic demands do not work anymore. In fact, they may never have. You have to treat your customers with tact, be fair and you need to treat them with dignity. Train your staff to use a non-threatening tone when they contact your customers and teach them to not be intimidating. Always use a welcoming voice and show that you understand their situation. And never get angry.

Be understanding

You never know what type of situation you are going to encounter when you call a customer that has not paid you. You may think you know your customer but you may find a very different story when you reach out to ask them to pay you. There is pressure on certain families during the holidays. More so than the rest of the year. A family that is struggling for example that still needs to provide certain items and gifts for their children may be overcommitted in their finances. You need to take these possible situations into consideration when making contact.

Be firm

You need to be understanding and respectful. We just went through that. It makes all the difference in the world. But you also need to stay firm even during the holiday season. The customer did ask you for services and they do owe you the money for what you provided. And that can’t be lost in all of this. You can be firm with your customers and still be nice and understanding all at the same time. Find ways to make it work for both parties. Maybe you need to give them a little more time or you can try to set them up with a payment plan. It’s entirely up to you how you want to resolve the past due account. But, you can be respectful and firm at the same time.

Manage your reputation

If you need help in this area, there are nice debt collectors out there. And there are collection agencies that understand that treating everyone with respect is the way to be far more effective in collecting money. And if you need that assistance, you can find it because the industry is taking notice that old ways of doing business do not work.

The last thing you need is to appear to have a lack of ethics and understanding around the holiday season. While the customer does need to pay you, how you handle that, especially during the holidays can go a long way in keeping your customers and managing your reputation with others.

Happy Holidays from everyone here at American Profit Recovery!

Protect your business from financial loss

No one likes to lose money. And as a collection agency that serves all types of business, we can certainly attest to that fact. We have never found one business in all our years helping others that liked to part with their money. And in many cases, it can be avoided if you are prepared and you plan out your business and your growth.

Protecting your business from a financial loss can come in many forms.

Proper Insurance:

We have all met that insurance guy that might be kind of a pain. But the fact is, one of the best ways to protect your business from a financial loss is to have the right insurance as well as the right amount of insurance. It can make the difference between staying in business and closing your doors when you have the right insurance. Continue reading “Protect your business from financial loss”

Ways to stop wasting time and money in your business

Hopefully we all agree that in business, time is money. Every minute you are running your business is an opportunity to make and save money in some way.

Wasting time and money is not something most business owners like to do. And if you are a small business with limited resources, then you want to maximize every aspect of those resources to ensure your business is operating as efficiently as possible.

As a collection agency that works with small business and larger types of business, we know a few things about losing money. We are that safety net for many to make sure they are not in fact losing money. You and your team worked hard for that money, gained the confidence of your customers and you should enjoy a profitable business in turn. Continue reading “Ways to stop wasting time and money in your business”

What do our sales professionals hear?

Our team is on the phone just about every day talking with business owners and others that may be responsible for keeping a business profitable. While some may call them sales professionals because in the end, we are trying to gain them as a client, they are also problem solvers at the core. Yes, they talk about how our system can help their business when it comes to cash flow and as a collection agency, that is what we do.

But they also listen intently to hear what those potential clients are saying and what their areas of pain are in a small or medium sized business. When we listen, our team can do a much better job of making sure they get on the right track to getting more timely payments from their customers.

Here are just a few of the main themes we hear often. Anything sound familiar?

Customers are not paying us!

The obvious first thing we hear is that their customers are not paying them or paying on time. That’s why they called us and why we are on the phone. And if we called them, (Because yes, we do cold call…) in many cases we still hear the same thing after chatting for a bit. Not all of their customers are current in their obligations to that business and it’s starting to take a toll on cash flow.

In a lot of cases, when we talk with a business, we find out that customers not paying is nothing new and in fact, it’s been going on for some time, even years. Maybe they just dealt with the issue as they knew how and never really got serious about making sure payments came in on time. And when we get the call, it’s become more than a nuisance. It’s starting to affect cash flow.collection agency questions

Our cash flow is down.

Speaking of cash flow, it’s another topic that comes up in just about every conversation with a potential client. When customers don’t pay or pay late, your cash flow will suffer. And when we get into more detail with a business, we find just that. Cash flow is starting to become a problem. When the business takes a step back to figure out why there is not as much cash in the bank as they thought they had, they begin to figure out that they have more than a handful of customers that have not paid them yet.

Cash flow as you know is the backbone of your business and when it becomes an issue, more problems arise because you lack cash flow. One of the first places to look is your receivables.

We’ve hesitated to use a collection agency.

We understand when a business tells us that they are unsure about using a collection agency for their business. And there are a few reasons why some businesses hesitate to take that next step. The first is they do not want to lose their customers. Most feel that as soon as you take that next step and place a customer into collections, that you have lost them forever. That’s not always the case and in fact, if the debt collection process is done diplomatically, the chances of a business keeping that customer are far greater. Diplomacy, tact and respect not only help you keep a customer, but by being nice, you have a better chance of resolving that debt with your customer.

Cost is also always on the mind of a business when it comes to debt collections. Most businesses think that the only way to place a customer into collections involves giving up most of the original amount of the bill they are trying to collect. Because they don’t want to part with that money, many businesses decide to work a late customer internally for months and even years. What surprises many is when they find out that there are low-cost collection agencies out there. And we are one of them. You can develop a dialog with customers that don’t pay for a small fee and get them back on track. If you are worried about how much it will cost to hire a collection agency, it makes sense to ask if they offer a low-cost debt collection solution.

Are your employees well trained?

We’ve all watched some of those nightly news magazines and seen poorly trained employees in all kinds of industries. When you have any company contacting your customers, you want to know that they are trained properly, and they are treating your customers fairly and respectfully. If you are looking for a collection agency and you’re speaking with a representative, asking about their workforce is a fair question. Employees at a collection agency should be trained regularly, have a firm understanding of laws and regulations, be able to negotiate with your customers and have the skills to diffuse a situation that gets uncomfortable. In the end, that employee is working on your behalf and representing you. They should be treating your customers as if they were theirs.

When can a get my money?

We have a philosophy here and it’s based off of decades of experience. The sooner you act on a late or non-paying customer, the sooner you’ll get paid. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to resolve that matter. We are always asked how soon a business might see money coming in. While that varies according to the business and how long those invoices have gone unpaid, acting quicker when someone doesn’t pay you, has proven to be more effective than waiting too long. Developing a regular system for your accounts receivables, follow ups and collections will prove to be beneficial to your cash flow in the long run.

What questions do you have about collection agencies? Let us know.

What are my best resources for staying profitable?

There are many ways your business can increase profits and hopefully increase cash flow by doing so. As a collection agency that specializes in working with all types of business, we are always fielding questions from concerned business owners and others about their lack of cash flow and in many cases, lack of profits. It’s a question we get often.

How can I increase the profits in my business?

There are many ways to increase the profits in your business. Some are right in front of you and others need a little searching but if you’re committed and stick to a process and, get the proper resources, you’ll be on your way to increased profitability. Continue reading “What are my best resources for staying profitable?”

You should be able to answer these questions about your business

Running a business is much harder than it looks. If you see all these gurus on social media telling you that you can make millions sitting on a beach and never worrying, you should be careful of what they are telling you because in most cases, it’s just not accurate. Do some people make money while enjoying the sound of crashing waves? Yes, but if they’re smart, they are still keeping a pulse on everything.

They know their numbers, know what their customers and clients need and don’t need, and they are well tuned in to the health of their business. If they don’t know these facts and figures, they’ll be out of business before they know it.

There are several aspects of your business that you should be well up to speed on. Having a firm grasp on the health of your business is not only good for your business, but mission critical.

So, what should you know about your business?

Revenue:

Sounds basic right? Yes, it is. You should know what your revenue is for any given period of time. At the very least, you should know what your monthly revenue is that comes into your business because that can help you determine trends that are forming with your business. Are sales up, are they down? Last month we made XX and now we see sales are slipping. You wouldn’t know that unless you kept a close eye on revenue.What should I know about business

We know that for some, you have your busy seasons such as the lawn care professionals we serve, swimming pool companies and others. But please take time out to just check on your revenue.

Cash Flow:

So you know what you have for revenue but do you understand your cash flow? They are not the same. Cash flow is the money that is going in and out of your business. For most businesses, cash comes through sales of products and services. But it can also be generated by investments. Most businesses track their cash flow by the month.

You can have great sales but if you are sending out more money than is coming in, you’re going to have a cash flow issue. Cash quite simply is what you have on hand.

There are several factors that lead to negative cash flow. Out of control expenses, unforeseen expenses such as repairs or buying new equipment and of course, customers not paying you on time.

Accounts Receivables;

Speaking of customers not paying on time, that’s where your knowledge of your receivables becomes very important. Maybe your revenue looks great, but revenue can also be on paper. Which means you have not been paid for what you did or supplied. As a business, you never want to be surprised by how many people owe you money. You need to stay on top of your receivables for many reasons.

First, it’s all about cash flow. And when people owe you money, at affects your cash flow immediately. It also affects your attitude because most of us get upset when people don’t pay and you don’t have any legitimate reason why. You think you did a good job and met the clients’ needs but you didn’t get paid.

But keeping track of who owes you money is also about accountability. If you don’t have the systems in place to effectively track the customers that have not paid, or paid on time, you will lose money. The more time you let go by without getting more assertive in getting clients current in their payments, the less likely you’ll get paid for your services. Let months and months go by, and for some, they justify not paying you.

Chasing after payments that have not come in also costs you valuable resources in time and money that could be used in other areas of you business.

Know who owes you money and how long they have been late and have the systems in place to take care of that. That includes internal and the services of a reputable collection agency for more stubborn accounts.

Who is your ideal customer?

You should have a handle on your ideal customer because those, hopefully will be the most profitable for your business. You might have different criteria for your ideal customer but we feel that your perfect customer is profitable, easy to work with and even returns for repeat business.

Defining the perfect customer will allow you to find more like them, hopefully increase your profits, reduce the stress of working with less than ideal clients and give everyone on your team a roadmap to follow as you go out and find more customers like them.

There are so many more aspects of your business that you need to have a handle on but if you know where your cash is, where your cash is coming from and how to find your ideal profitable customer, you’ll be far ahead of many who don’t have a firm grasp on these parts of their business.

The dangers of waiting too long to collect

We have the opportunity to speak with all kinds of businesses and potential clients when we are out and about. When we represent American Profit Recovery at trade shows and other exhibitions, we are speaking with entrepreneurs and others all day long. We love hearing about how business is going and how they’ve grown their organizations.

Some of these professionals have everything in order with their accounts receivables and have the systems to get paid. And some even have a collection agency they use for difficult accounts. A smart move.

But some we chat with could be doing far better in the area of basic accounting and getting paid for what they do.

Our team recently encountered a small business that had, to say the least, some cash flow issues. It was a small professional services firm that was run by one person and that professional was focused, almost entirely on just servicing clients. He was doing well by his clients and was very busy with his practice. But he had one major flaw. Continue reading “The dangers of waiting too long to collect”

What can other companies learn from this collection agency?

When you think of a collection agency, what are your initial thoughts? As a consumer, you might have much different views of collection agencies than a business owner that needs to get paid on time. Even if that consumer has never dealt with being in collections, they might have already formed an opinion based on media coverage, nightly news magazines and how others talk about their experience.

As that business owner or other executive in charge of payments and cash flow, you might have your opinions of the debt collection industry as well. One of your beliefs is that it is just part of doing business. You need a collection agency to help your business get certain customers to pay and by doing so, will improve your cash flow.

But what if you could learn valuable lessons about how to run and grow a company from the collection industry? Would you listen?reputable collection agencies

We have realized for some time that for us to meet certain goals as a company, we have to have several things in place. And as a company in a fast-paced and sometimes stressful industry, the way we operate is important.

Culture.

We’ve spent a lot of time on our culture. It’s an important part of who we are and how we retain talent. For many here, being on the phone is a way of life. Whether you are a collector, in customer service or in a sales capacity, our people spend much of their day on the phone. And the experiences vary. It’s important for us to have a culture where we can offset that phone time with fun experiences.

While we dedicate an entire week to our employees during our annual Employee Week, with games, outings and community service, we also take time during the year to do the same. In this industry, we want and need to have a little fun. We have several outings during the year and equal amounts of opportunities to get involved in various causes.

You also won’t find us ruling with an iron first around here. Our culture involves training our team thoroughly and regularly, nurturing our team members and offering regular feedback on how to improve.

Values.

Ask anyone here and they know our values. In fact, they know our values before they are even offered a position in the company. We believe that the way to harmony between a company, management, clients and its employees is to have certain values in place. For us it’s work ethic, integrity and a positive attitude.

We know, for many in the public, they feel that our industry has no integrity. And they feel that getting the money is the only outcome. But that would be incorrect.

Our job here is to find the best solution to the current problem. That might not be having a consumer pay off an entire balance all at once. That in some cases can be counterproductive and can put someone right back into collections. Creating a solution that everyone can embrace without causing a path of destruction is called integrity. Integrity comes in many other forms as well including making sure we are honest in the workplace, and that we are doing the right thing for everyone. We value honesty at every level of the organization.

Work ethic and a positive attitude we believe go hand in hand. This is not just a job here. We are proud of the fact that we are a place where someone can build a career and feel good about helping others such as the business that hires us and the consumers we work with to create solutions to an outstanding debt.

And we want our team to treat this like a career. If you’re just looking for a paycheck, maybe this isn’t the best place for you to land. But if you are eager to build a career, grow and learn, this is a great place for that to happen. And that’s why work ethic and a positive attitude are so important to our culture. We do hard work and our clients expect us to be positive and stay focused on helping them.

Openness.

Let’s face it, many in this industry over the years have stayed far under the radar. Collection agencies never looked for attention, never wanted it and just did their job for their clients. That has changed and it’s not just American Profit Recovery. Others in the collection industry have also started to open their doors.

We do good work here. We help a business that is struggling to stay on top of cash flow and by doing so, we help a consumer navigate a difficult situation. We have many stories to tell and if we stay silent, others will tell our story for us.

We also have great people here and they as well know they are doing the right thing every time they pick up the phone. Some of are not easy conversations but in the end, we have always tried to help two parties come to an agreement. And, we have tried to educate both business and consumer along the way.

We’ve met the media head on over the years with educational topics and we’ve told our story with social media. We have shared agency life with the world and our team actively participates.

Our philosophy of being open and honest has served us well and has allowed us to take a huge step in educating the public that we’re just real people trying to make a difference.

This industry has had mountains to climb over the years and we recognized that when we opened our doors. Were we disrupters? We’re not sure, but we knew what would make our company different. Culture, a tremendous focus on values and showing the world what we really do.

What makes your company different?