As with any major crisis, some industries get crushed and some do well. Depending on what you consult on, manufacture or supply will somewhat dictate how your industry will weather any crisis. As we have seen with the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have been designated essential and many have had to shut their doors which has created a crisis of its own for many across the country. For many industries, this has caused damage to their operation that will take a long time to overcome.
Take a lawncare company for example. Many had already been working hard to fire up operations for the season. Conducting spring cleanups and getting yards ready for a long enjoyable season. Then in very short order, services such as these were forced to shut down and not service customers. And revenue for many, came to an abrupt halt. You cannot work and you cannot bill for anything. That is a hardship in itself. A business without current or predicable future revenue, is not sustainable for very long as well all know.
As we handle debt collections for lawncare companies here, we understand that for many, they rely heavily on the ability to contact their customers when a payment is missed or not sent in at all. And that goes for any industry that bills for their services and has receivables. One way that a business of any size can keep some cash flow moving is to continue to communicate with their customers when a payment has not been received.
Communication is key in debt collections
During the COVID-19 crisis, several states across the country limited the ability of collectors to contact consumers about money that was past due. While many understand the thinking behind some of these orders, many of these restrictions actually can make matters worse in the long run for consumers. And these restrictions can add to the crisis that a business is already going through.
Many of these organizations were deemed non-essential which meant that current revenue streams were basically shut off or extremely limited. Throw in restrictions on getting paid for services you have already provided and that is a perfect storm for a business.
In good times and in bad, communication is absolutely critical between a business and the customer that owes that business money. Keeping the lines of communication open is how that business gets paid, keeps the relationship intact with both parties and, helps that consumer stay out of debt.
If you work accounts internally with your staff, don’t feel like you cannot contact your customers that owe you money because of this crisis. You performed work and you should get paid for it. It’s alright to ask for money. You just might have to be a little more flexible during tough times.
Communication helps the consumer
Communication is absolutely necessary for the business, but it is also extremely helpful for a consumer. Our professional collectors are problem solvers and they help consumers every day they are on the phone. They never demand a payment like so many would like you to think. They help that consumer create a solution to their debt and they take great care in understanding why they are in the situation they have fallen into with the goal of not getting in that situation again. Many might even be surprised to know that under some circumstances, that professional collector may determine that a payment is not possible at the time and make it a point to check in with that consumer at a later date.
Another thing that may surprise many is that our collectors are often thanked by a consumer they have contacted for helping them sort out an issue that has been hanging over their head for far too long.
Do not stop the communication
This advice is important whether we are in a worldwide crisis or not. Your business cannot afford to stop communicating with your customers unless they have specifically asked you to stop.
Always do your best to have regular communication with your customers that have not paid and make sure that communication is cordial and tactful. Do not communicate in a way that will not foster future interactions with that customer but let them know you are there to help them resolve that payment issue and that you value their business. Seek to understand their situation, like our collectors do, and do everything you can to keep that customer under current circumstances.
No business wants to lose a customer and during a crisis like the COVID-19 disaster, no business can afford to shed any customers.
Stay in touch with your customers!