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.

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?”

These are costing your business money and lost revenue

It probably goes without saying that the biggest reason your business could be losing money is because customers are not paying you on time. You do the work, or supply the product, and then if you don’t get paid, you start losing cash immediately. Collection agencies that work with small business, such as our company hear this type of thing all the time. It’s the single largest source of revenue loss.

But there are many other causes of lost revenue and some of them might not even be obvious to you and your team. Maybe they are and you’re just ignoring them. Whatever the case may be, there are a number of ways your business can be losing cash and if you’re not careful, it can only escalate if you’re not paying attention. Continue reading “These are costing your business money and lost revenue”

Where’s my cash?

Remember the movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?” Well, have you ever said to yourself, where’s my cash?

There are insights we have as a collection agency that works with small business. And we get questions all the time when we sit down and talk with small business owners and others like you. They are always asking where their cash is. “We see some of our money coming in, but not all of it.” A common theme when we consult with concerned businesses.

You need to know where your cash is at all times as a small business. Everything from keeping track of the cash that goes in and out of your business to the people that are paying and not paying you. If you let this critical part of your business slide, you’ll be asking that question too. Where’s my cash?

While our main focus here is to recover money that is owed to your business, we also understand that cash has several other ways of hiding from you.

A few items for you to keep track of on a regular basis are:

Accounts receivables:

We know a little bit about accounts receivables as you might imagine. As a collection agency, it’s what we do when the receivables don’t come in on time. We help.

There is a good percentage of businesses that do a good job at keeping up on the receivables in their business and there are equal amounts of businesses that could do better. We have helped both. When a business understands the importance of staying on top of their receivables and getting help before it’s too late, their cash flow should stay positive. But when a business lets late-paying customers go months without a payment, that’s when cash flow suffers.

Regardless of the type of business you are in, your accounts receivables need all the attention you can give them. That includes clear internal procedures such as regular invoicing and follow ups and that extra help when you’re not getting paid.

Make sure everyone that has anything to do with getting your customers to pay for services understands any and all internal expectations for payments. Submitting paperwork on time for time spent with a client, other billables such as products they purchased from you and any other details associated with payments to your business.

Monitor Cash Flow:

While in an ideal world, you would want to have a daily understanding of your cash flow, we understand that might not be possible depending on the type of business you operate. But regular should be the key word here. Make sure you have a regular understanding of where you stand on cash flow. If you are a consulting business, maybe your cash situation won’t change much in seven days. But if you are in the trades, your cash can change daily. It’s imperative you keep a close eye on your cash at all times, Not just once a month.

Cash Reserve:

If you are running a seasonal business, you’ll definitely want to listen up. You need to preserve your cash reserves. While the advice differs depending on who you talk with, having three to six months of cash on hand is a good measurement to stand by. One clear example is the lawn care and landscaping industry. While many supplement their income with snow removal, if it doesn’t snow that much, it doesn’t help that you depended on that possible income.

There is also a downturn in business you need to be prepared for. It could be a whole host of reasons. Maybe you lost a big account, or you have potential leads that have not turned into real business yet. You have to be prepared for a time when revenue is down.

Keep an Eye on Expenses:

Once again, it depends on your industry as to the number of payables you might have but you need to keep a close eye on these. And if you can’t, get help.

When you ask, where’s my cash?, you might also say, I had no idea I was paying for this… When you don’t pay attention, you’ll eventually find things you had no idea were costing you money. Look at everything you are paying for regularly and make adjustments where needed.

This also goes for inventory if you sell physical items. Inventory is money and it’s not doing you any good to sit on six months of a product when that money could be in the bank.

Get Help:

A common theme we write about here is getting help. You don’t have to do it all yourself or even delegate it to someone that might not have the skillset. Getting the proper help might cost you money but the money you can save by having professionals by your side could be big. Those include a qualified bookkeeper to keep an eye on your books and pay your bills on time. It can be a CPA which is almost a no-brainer in this day and age. And it can be a collection agency that specializes in small business. All these are smart investments in your business.

They will help you get your money, get it on time, keep it for when you need it and have you less stressed out in the long run.

You do what for work?

By Angela:

Often times I find myself in a position where someone is asking me what I do for a living and the reactions I get are pretty crazy. When I tell them I work for a collection agency, they either think I’m just a bad person, or they begin to understand, and are generally interested.

I recently went to a salon and they asked me what I did for a living and after telling them, the woman says, “Oh that’s got to suck”.  I love hearing this, because then I can take a few minutes to explain why it doesn’t and why what we do is important to the economy. It turns out the lady I spoke to was the business owner of the salon, and after I explained the benefits our industry has to businesses like hers, she then was very interested as her husband also owns his own business.

I think it’s common that most people assume debt collectors are just here every day to be mean to people, and trust me when I say that is FAR from the truth. We are everyday people who have at some point or another, likely gone through the same thing. We are nice people who care about our clients and their customers and stand by a collector’s pledge which everyone here takes to ensure we all treat people with respect.

While some may view what we do as a negative, the reality is much different, we help are here to help our clients, while maintaining good customer service so they can hopefully continue business with their consumers.

What we do isn’t a shameful profession but in fact a necessary one. Small business owner’s everyday are struggling and the collection industry plays a huge role in putting money back into their pockets and the economy.

Protect your money

When you are running a small business, every dollar counts. That includes cash that comes into your business and cash that goes out. It’s how you charge your customers for what you provide them, and keeping a watchful eye on what you are being charged by others.

It’s also about protecting what you have which includes cash, receivables as well as physical items such as assets and inventory. Maybe your customers are paying on time, but you could be losing money in other areas. It’s important to keep an eye on everything related to money in your small business.

Here are a few items to always pay attention to:

Cash Flow:

As a small business, you need to protect your cash flow at all cost. As a collection agency that works with small business, we are having conversations every day with small business owners just like you that are having issues with cash flow. And one of the main reasons is that customers are not paying on time or not paying at all. There are so many reasons a customer may hold up on paying you. Some are legitimate such as going through a trying time or they just plain forgot. But as we know, other times they are refusing to pay for other reasons. Continue reading “Protect your money”

How to keep your business going when you’re not there

When you are running a small business, you might be in a position where you are doing almost everything. Depending on the circumstances such as amount of business, labor shortage or it is just the nature of your business, one day you could be at your desk and the next, out seeing a customer.

The fact is that many small businesses are running because the owners are actively involved in the day-to-day operations.

But what happens when you cannot be at your business?

There are a whole host of reasons that could cause you to be away from your small business. Everything from an injury or illness, vacation and time away such as your kid’s college visits, to major surgery. You could be away from your small business for a day or two, or months depending on the issue.

How do you make sure your small business runs when you’re not there?

Continue reading “How to keep your business going when you’re not there”

Tips for conducting a monthly review of small business finances

If you are like many small businesses, you don’t just sit at your desk all day and shout orders to people. You are doing everything. And depending on the time of year, as you well know, your level of hands on activity can vary depending on the seasonality of your business. If you are in lawncare or a pool construction company, you might be full steam from April well through October.

Collection agencies that work with small business hear from owners and other all the time when things such as cash flow start to suffer. And because many in business get too busy to take care of the back end of their operation sometimes, finances begin to take the first fall.

We strongly suggest a regular review of your small business finances. In fact, even if you are very busy, you should at least sit down once a month and make sure everything is in order.

Below are a number of regular items for your review.

Review all your bank statements.

This should be one of the first things you do each month in your review. Make sure you sit down and review all your bank statements. This also includes any credit card statements or other revolving accounts you might have for the business. Check for regular activity to make sure the amount you may have authorized is in fact the amount on your statement. And of course, check to make sure there is not any unauthorized activity on your accounts.

If you have anyone other than yourself using a company credit or debit card, make sure they are providing documentation on every item or purchase they use that card for.

Review accounts payable.

Make sure you are putting a careful look at the money that goes out the door. Check all your incoming invoices for accuracy and make sure there is no duplication or other items tacked on to any of your vendor invoices without explanation or authorization. If you have any doubts, make sure you contact your vendor as soon as you can to resolve any discrepancies in amounts or service.

Review procedures with staff.

Depending on the type of your small business, you may have more than a handful of people that have access to cash and other forms of payment. First, make sure you have systems in place to make sure everyone knows how any form of payment should be handled. Second, make sure you are conducting regular reviews with those team members to make sure there are no mistakes or mishandling of money. This includes everything from any retail operation and checks or credit card payments that could be handled out in the field.

Pay your bills on time.

You probably understand where we are coming from here because we’re a collection agency. And you would be correct. You need to pay your bills and your vendors on time. We can think of at least two reasons. First, as a small business, you know how important cash flow is to the success of a business. In all likelihood, your vendor is another small business. But two, if you do not pay your bills on time, it can cost you more money in possible late fees, now you have to cut a check for may two months of service and it causes you more time to get caught up which can take you away for running and growing your business.

Invoice on time.

It all depends on the type of business you are running but you need to make sure you are invoicing on time and at the very least, every month. You cannot go more than 30 days without sending out your invoices. First, your customers expect an invoice but second, delaying any type of invoice will only hurt your cash flow and snowball from there.

Cash flow.

Speaking of cash flow…If you do one thing on a regular basis, it should be monitoring your cash flow. Nothing can hurt your small business quicker than ignoring cash flow. As we mentioned, the first step is to make sure you are invoicing on time. No exceptions. But you also need to review what cash foes in to your business and what is going out. You should sit down with your bookkeeper or whoever you have keeping an eye on your accounting.

What’s that? You don’t have anyone monitoring your accounting or paying your bills?

Get help!

If you need help in your small business, then get help. A couple of ways we recommend getting help.

First, if you do not have a bookkeeper, then find one. If your business cannot support someone full time, consider hiring a person part time or outsource it. There are plenty of qualified bookkeeping services out there. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or your industry association for referrals. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and if numbers are not your strength, get a bookkeeper.

Second, when it comes to cash flow, many times the cause of poor cash flow is customers not paying you. If you have tried to get your customers to pay with internal resources or you just don’t have the time or those resources, you need to consider working with a reputable collection agency. Find a collection agency that works with small business, one that mirrors your values as a business and uses tact and respect when dealing with your hard-earned customers.

Finding a collection agency that also has a low-cost solution to your accounts that are past due is also a plus when you’re a small business.

Need more tips on keeping more of your hard-earned cash?  Check out more articles on our blog.