One of the standard pieces of advice we give to people creating credit applications is to make sure they require complete contact information, not just for the accounts payable department, but for other finance people and principals within the company as well. Complete contact information means email addresses, phone numbers, and a mailing address, at a minimum.
Obviously, one of the reasons we advise this for a credit application is so that if creditors default on their debt, you have more than one way to contact them, and more than one person to contact. But intentionally not paying a debt isn’t the only reason you might need more than one way to contact someone and more than one person to contact.
Most people start out requesting payment via email. You generally email someone an invoice, and continue the follow up conversation via email. If a payment is late it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, and for people who aren’t trained in debt collections requesting payment in writing is easier and less risky. Using email anyone can follow a script, over the phone human emotion and error often get involved. Using email there’s less chance that you’ll find yourself saying something you aren’t supposed to say, like, “Oh, that’s ok, I understand the problem, pay me when you can.”
However, there are drawbacks to doing collections via email. Even the best-intentioned people sometimes wind up ignoring email. Many people read their emails at night or during their commutes and forget to respond. This is especially true if the person you’re emailing is not the person who actually writes the checks. For example, you may send your invoice to a contact at the company who then forwards it on to be paid. If your invoices are not being paid and emailing is not helping, a phone call can sometimes do the trick, simply because it’s harder to forget a conversation than it is to forget an email. That’s why it’s essential to have both phone and email contact information. Another frequent issue in prompt payment, especially in the summer, is vacation.
Accounts Payable people take vacations, too. Unfortunately, they sometimes do so without making sure all the bills due while they’re gone have been paid. Rarely is there only one person at a company who can write a check. If you know how to contact more than one person in the company you have a much greater chance of getting paid, even if the person who is supposed to write the check is on vacation. It’s rare that a Department Head or C-Level executive will approve payment of late fees, just because the accounts person is snorkeling.
It can feel time consuming and unnecessary to collect complete contact information for multiple people at a company when you’re first starting a contract. However, doing so may make your collections process easier later on.
If you’ve gotten to the point where you can no longer make contact, or find that the contact you’re making is not helping you to get paid we hope you’ll consider calling us. At The Kaplan Group we can remove the hassle of multiple calls and emails from your “to do” list and let you get back to running your business.