As 2017 draws to a close, many businesses work hard to collect on outstanding invoices. Clients ARM knows that many businesses elect to start the collections process in-house. In an effort to help businesses, we’ve put together our six best secrets to help you master the collections process to bring more money into your business.
Secret #1 – Be Prepared
The collections process has a lot more to it than just picking up the phone or mailing out demand letters. For you to master collections, you must be prepared. This means that before you pick up the phone, you review all the information that you have about the past due account. When you’re prepared, you’ll sound more confident during your calls and you’ll be able to give past due clients the information that they need. Before every call or letter, make sure that you:
- Know the invoice number(s)
- Know the date(s) that the invoice(s) was created
- How long the account has been overdue
- The date you last received a payment
- The amount of the last payment
- The services provided that caused the generation of the invoice
- Review the payment history for the account
- Determine whether there were any previous disputes related to the account
- Pull up a copy of the signed contract. Debtors have the right to request debt verification. A copy of a signed contract along with a copy of the past due invoice will suffice in many jurisdictions
Secret #2 – Know What You Plan to Say Before You Dial
Take some time to figure out the basics of what you’re going to say. You must identify yourself, the company, and why you are calling. However, you must also be careful not to give too much information if you’re not talking to the account owner or their spouse. If you’re calling an employer or another third-party, the only thing you can do is to try and get contact information for the account holder.
You can access a copy of a basic phone script for collections by clicking here.
Secret #3 – Ask the Right Questions to Figure Out the Situation You’re Facing
There are three types of debtors: those who are willing and able to pay, those who want to pay but can’t afford it, and those who aren’t willing to pay you at all. Asking the right questions can help you distinguish between the three and come up with a plan. This is another reason why it is important that you review the account information. If someone had a good payment history and suddenly stopped paying, maybe they didn’t get their bill or they had questions. Maybe they’ve experienced an emergency. You want to be as helpful as you can to resolve the situation.
If you’re told that they can’t afford to pay you, ask them if they’re working. Often, debtors will say yes and say that they don’t get paid until a specific date. You can offer a reasonable payment amount due on that day. You can also follow-up with them on that day and take the payment over the phone.
If you’ve asked questions and realize you’re dealing with someone who just doesn’t want to pay at all, you’re likely going to need to explore other collection options.
Secret #4 – Follow-up
If a debtor agrees to make a payment on a certain date, pick up the phone and call them on that date to take the payment. Do not rely on the debtor to call you. If the debtor is a business that is in your area, offer to drop by and pick up the payment.
Secret #5 – Practice Active Listening
There are many collection agencies that strong-arm debtors into paying. While there are a few people who simply refuse to pay their bills, most debtors are good people and they’re not happy about being unable to pay. Practice active listening to develop or support a good relationship. Don’t interrupt. Listen to everything the debtor has to say. Don’t think about your response while they speak or you could miss something crucial. Active listening gives you the ability to become or remain a problem solver for the company and for the debtor.
Secret #6 – Treat Debtors with Respect
Collections can be emotional for the debtor. It can cause negative feelings for you and for the debtor. Always remember to act professional and treat all debtors with respect.
Do You Need Help with Your Collections?
If you’re looking for help with your collections, schedule a free consultation with Clients ARM. We have more than 30 years of experience and we rely on old fashioned customer service to help our clients get paid. Clients ARM provides both first and third-party debt collection. Our collections rate is better than 90%! What are you waiting for? Let us help you get paid!