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?

What NOT to do when customers don’t pay you

One of the most frustrating parts about running a business of any size is when customers don’t pay on time or, pay you at all. You spent untold amounts of time securing these customers, building your reputation with them and then servicing them for long periods of time. Then one day, they fall behind and you’re not getting paid.

Maybe it was an oversight and maybe it’s more than just that. Sometimes your customers decide they didn’t like the service for whatever reason, and they stop paying. Other times, your customer might be going through a difficult period and they just need a solution to their debt problems. You’ll never know unless you begin the communication process with that customer and find out why they have not paid you.

When your customers are not paying you, there are steps to take and strategies to implement to get your customers to pay. And, there are things you don’t want to do as well. One because they won’t get you anywhere and two, it could get you in trouble. Continue reading “What NOT to do when customers don’t pay you”

Ways to protect your business from fraud

You think you trust everyone on your team, and you’d like nothing more than to have that trust with everyone. Trust is one of the things that creates a positive workplace and helps to build company culture. Which in turn, helps an organization grow.

how to prevent fraud in my business

As a collection agency, we hear the struggles of businesses all the time. Lack of cash flow, customers not paying on time or paying at all. When it comes to losing money in that way, it is easily detected. Just match up your invoice with your receivables and you should be able to decide if a customer has paid you.

But what about other ways your business is losing money? Could your business be the victim of fraud? Are your “trusted” employees really that trustworthy? While that trust is a great thing to have, regardless, you still need to watch out for fraud. It happens more often than you think. Continue reading “Ways to protect your business from fraud”

How to protect your good reputation as a business

Have you ever heard people say, “I don’t care what people think about me?” Sure, we all have. For some, what others think about them doesn’t seem to register and it doesn’t bother them in the least.

But have you ever heard a person say that about their business? We hope not but we’re sure there’s a few out there..

Whether you like it or not, what people think about your business is a big deal and it should concern you every day. Just about every move you make can make an impact on what people think about your business and your overall reputation.

Your good reputation can make the difference between having an okay year to having more business than you know what to do with. Which isn’t a bad problem to have…

What we do know is that an old saying is very true. You can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to fall in love with your business and some customers may have unrealistic expectations. Some things cannot be avoided but you can do your best to please all.

A few things that we find that affect your business reputation.

Customer Experience:

The experience a customer has with your business starts from the minute they pick up the phone and call you, or in this age of social media, send you a message though a platform such as Facebook. You have to be available, helpful, courteous and responsive. That’s just the first part of getting and keeping a customer. If you have social media pages such as Facebook, you are going to need someone to be in charge of keeping an eye on that for any incoming messages. Some customers are just not going to pick up the phone anymore and you have to get used to that.

That’s just the start. From there, you need to make sure you have a plan to ensure your customer’s experience with your business is a pleasant one. Once they decide to do business with you, it’s up to you to make sure everyone on your team knows how to make that customer happy.

Training:

That leads us to training. A well-trained staff is one of the keys to a great customer experience and one of the best ways to ensure your good reputation is spread far and wide. “knowledgeable and helpful” are two of the more common words you see when it comes to the good reputation of a business. Did your staff know what they were talking about and could they solve my issue? You need to ask yourself if you feel your staff is trained enough to handle just about anything from a customer. And do they have the authority to do what is necessary to assist that customer?

Getting Paid:

How you treat your customers in good times and not so good times is very important. Even if you decide you don’t want that person as a customer anymore, you should still think about the way they are treated when things go wrong. When there is a dispute about payment, is a very good example. You could get angry and call that customer and demand payment or ask them why they haven’t paid you in a hostile tone. Which will only lead to not getting paid and them spreading negative word of mouth about your business. Or you could be nice, respectful and considerate of their situation and try to resolve that payment issue with tact. If that doesn’t work, make sure your next step is handled with care such as the collection agency you choose. Again, even if you don’t want to do business with that customer anymore, you should still treat them with respect and the collection agency you work with should do the same.

Online Reviews:

We never had this issue ten years ago but now it has become part of doing business. Online reviews come from all angles. From Google, Facebook, Yelp and others such as review site for contractors, there is ample opportunity for both benefit and trouble in online review site. For the most part, they are unregulated. If someone wanted to cause you trouble, they can go online and write a bad review. Potential customers see that and without talking to you first, you now have a reputation for whatever that person felt was an issue.

On the other side, positive online reviews can help you tremendously. And you should actively seek them from your best customers. The more positive reviews you have, the less damage a negative review will have on your business.

There are two schools of thought on online reviews and responding. First, many say respond to everything bad or good. Others feel that if you start responding to bad reviews, you’ll end up in a public argument with some for everyone on the internet to see. If it does not go well, that’s part of your online record. You have to decide whether a public dispute is worth your reputation.

By the way, if you’ve had a positive experience with this collection agency, and want to share your thoughts, Google American Profit Recovery Michigan and tell the world how we’ve helped your business.

Managing your reputation in this digital age is a whole new world and one you need to keep an eye on. Consumers now have the tools to damage your business very quickly and it’s up to you to make this a priority.

We won another award. Why should you care?

We have once again earned a spot on the Best Places to Work in Collections list. We have now been on this list for over a decade, 12 years to be exact, and we are very proud to have this as one of our main goals as a company. Creating a place where people want to come to work and contribute is a goal that any business should have in their sights. And it is one goal that we believe is paramount to building a thriving organization. When we founded American Profit Recovery, it was one of the things that we felt needed to happen to create a sustainable business.

But what does this mean for you the client, the potential client and even the person struggling with debt that we ultimately call on? Continue reading “We won another award. Why should you care?”

Why is my business losing customers?

As a collection agency that works with both small and large business, we encounter this question quite a bit. We often hear that a business needs to place a customer into the collection process but they really don’t want to lose that customer. It is very common for those two factors to be discussed in the same conversation.

We work hard to secure a customer and we don’t want to lose them if we can help it. Acquiring new customers can be a long process for some businesses and the fact that they are behind in their obligations to our business, should not totally disqualify them from doing business with us in the future.Why is my business losing customers?

Take a sales professional for example. If you are in sales, then you know this all too well. You could chase an account for a year or more before someone decides to do business with you. That was hard work and you put your time in to make sure they trusted you. You got the client. Now because of some bad experience, they are not a client anymore. That’s a shame and hopefully it could have been avoided.

There are many reasons your business might be losing customers and we feel that in a lot of cases, it could be prevented. Continue reading “Why is my business losing customers?”

What could you do with more cash flow?

There are so many balls in the air that small business owners need to keep an eye on. And for that matter, any size business owner. The general public might have a perception that running a business is easy and that most are just jetting off to the Caribbean every month but for most, that is not the case. And if you’re one of those business owners, then you know that all too well. And as a collection agency talking with small and medium sized businesses all the time, we can confirm.

collection agencies for smb

Let’s go through some of the more critical issues that many in business constantly have on their mind. First, you are always concerned that you’ll have enough business. And when you are busy, will that last. Then you have no doubt been stressed about staffing. Will you be able to secure the talent you need, and will they stay or find a better opportunity?

Will your industry drastically change over time and will you be prepared for that change? And just about at the top of every business owner’s list of issues they worry about is cash. Continue reading “What could you do with more cash flow?”