Tuesday, January 08, 2008

10 Tips To Help Collect Past Due Accounts

By JR Rooney

Ten Tips on how to collect debt:

PREPARE: Reviewing the paperwork prior to calling is important. If you know the history of the account, the promises kept/broken and payment history you sound better on the phone. Have all records in front of you, ready for reference.

ATTITUDE: Adopt a professional attitude. You have a contract or you delivered goods now money is owed to you and you have a right to expect payment promptly. Never ever let it become personal. Don't yell or raise your voice; and NEVER swear. Don't threaten physical harm; legal action is your recourse.

CONTACT: Be sure you are talking to the correct person. Do not let the individual brush you off with "You'll have to talk to the bookkeeper." Identify the person who will pay the bill. If you can not get through after several calls, tell the secretary that you know your calls are being screened. Indicate the purpose of your call and if necessary give deadlines.

CONTROL: Control the conversation. Keep it focused on the debt and on the repayment schedule. Don't let the customer sidetrack you with personal history, excuses, etc. Remember, the object of your call is to collect money, or get a commitment, not to become buddies with the customer or win arguments.

FLEXIBLE: Be ready to adjust to the situation. Think about the kind of customer you're dealing with and adapt to meet the circumstances. Be prepared to accept a reasonable payment schedule, and a willingness to deal with a customers circumstances.

NOTES: Try to Keep detailed, accurate notes of every single contact with the debtor. Always probe for additional information on the debtor. Notes of these contacts will help you in later phone calls, and may be invaluable if litigation is needed. Great notes will also help in credit decisions in the future or in cases where skip tracing may be needed.

PRODUCTIVE: Keep calls brief and to the point. This is a business call only, not a social one. Try to view your efforts on a ratio of time expended to results achieved. Long conversations usually mean the customer is stalling for time or trapping you in the buddy syndrome.

PRECISE: Never leave a contact open ended, such as "Well talk next week," or "Ill send what I can." Every contact should result in a commitment to payment, of a specific amount, by a specific date, even the check number the customer is using to pay the pledge.

TIME: The longer an account is outstanding, the less likely it is that it will be paid. If payment is not arranged or a payment plan is not established within 90 days, place the claim with a collection agency or start legal proceedings.

PLACEMENT: Try to choose an agency that does not have to pay to get your information. Just type in "Collection Agency" to any search engine and pick a firm that ranks organically.

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