Business Debt Collection in Person: The Final Step for a Delinquent Account
Written by Lee VandenHeuvel
Note: this is the fifth and final blog in a series that provides insider tips on commercial and business debt collection. Read part 1, How to Collect Debt from a Delinquent Commercial Account, here; read part 2, Making the Call, here; read part 3, The Broken Promise, here; read part 4, Coping with Angry or Hostile Debtors When Collecting on a Delinquent Account, here.
If all else fails and if it is practical, the final step is to arrange a personal interview with the customer.
Personal interviews are the strongest demand for payment. The interviewer must show authority and positive ability to negotiate the claim, if necessary. At this time, the customer must pay, show valid proof of a dispute or be completely honest in stating their financial position.
A collection interview requires business-like persistence, firmness, tact and an impersonal attitude.
Tips for Collection Visits
Try to get the customer to come to your office. If it is necessary for you to go to see them, you may need these items:
- A copy of the customer’s statement or ledger.
- Copies of invoices and supporting docs.
- An envelope addressed to you.
Basic steps in a personal interview are the same as on the telephone. You should confirm all information on your credit application form and make sure it is up to date. Then, you should determine the problem. Once again, it will be one of three things: a lack of funds or a belief that there is lack of funds, a dispute or a refusal to pay.
If it is a refusal, you have no choice but to place the account with your collection service. If it is a dispute, once again you can immediately decide whether it is a bona fide dispute or an imaginary one and take the necessary steps to resolve it.
Disputes, real or imagined, are handled in the same manner as in the telephone interview. Finally, when you have found a solution, if it is not a payment in full, put the arrangement in writing.
Follow these steps and you will be well on your way to improving your internal collection processes on the war against debt. Good luck!
Lee VandenHeuvel is President/CEO of Ross, Stuart & Dawson, Inc., a commercial collection agency certified by the Commercial League of America. Lee has been helping creditors for 30 years to review and improve their credit/collection processes and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences.