Thursday, March 26, 2015

Improve Your Image While Preserving Cash

How often does a client ask to borrow money?  Maybe they requested to pay over time, or asked you for terms, or wanted to pay a small deposit with the balance in 30 days, or bugged you in any way to receive your goods and services before they paid in full.

A Credit Screen

Last week I wrote about how you pay interest forever on bad debts.  This week I want to offer a simple way to limit client borrowing while virtually preventing bad debts.  As a side benefit, you'll project a more professional and corporate image, letting your clients know you're serious about your business.  This technique identifies deadbeat clients without robbing them of their dignity.  In fact, rolling out this neat trick stops deadbeat clients in their tracks .

What is this trick?  A credit app.  Referring to your credit department projects credibility and stability while preserving your cash flow.  It lets your customers know you take credit seriously.

But this process powerfully deters deadbeats. 

Suppose a client has asked you - or one of your sales reps - to extend credit.  Instead of hemming and hawing, smile sweetly and reply "Of course.  I'd be happy to send you a credit app.  It usually takes two weeks to get a response back from our credit department once you return it.  When we get that back we'll know the terms they approve.  Until then, we're happy to continue doing business on a cash basis."

Identify Deadbeat Clients

What happens now?  If the customer has bad history with other suppliers, they'll drop their request immediately and never bring it up again.  They don't want you discovering they're a deadbeat.

If they're on good credit terms with other suppliers, they'll likely ask you for the form.  Then you'll have two weeks to run a credit check and I recommend you do it.  Then you can make a decision.

This turns around an uncomfortable moment into an image-building measure.  Most clients will view this
little bit of bureaucracy favorably.  It alludes to a larger and more stable organization than they thought which gives you power.  Of course, they don't need to know you are the head of the credit department.

Do you accept credit cards at your business?  How do you handle it when a client hands you a card and asks to charge a trivial amount?  Do you have a minimum purchase, a surcharge, or do you eat the fees?  The first two methods piss off the customer and the last pisses you off.  Next week I'll share a way to use credit card purchases to improve customer service while adding profit to your bottom line.  And in a future post I'll share how to flip around the Cash Conversion Cycle to make you more money.  It's another ingenious tip from your Business Doctor.  Until then,


Do you have bad debt?  Can you see how this technique could help?  Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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