Building Your Impressions: Handling Collections with Care

—Scott Franko

We care about our finances. We care about money. It fuels a business to keep it going. What we have to remember is that the means to the money is through people. So while caring about the money we also have to handle our collections of it with care, the kind of care that builds impressions.

Here are two ideas for helping you to collect with care in order to improve your cash flow and build impressions along the way:

Collecting at the end of a job starts at the beginning—with sales.

A good place to be proactive with collections is while selling the project. We made this an important part of our sales process and with our sales people. We wanted them to put as much care into our company’s cash flow as they did with closing a job and getting their commissions.

To help accomplish this, we taught, trained and provided contracts and proposals that contained terms and processes for payments. Sales people were then expected to use the training and tools with the client. While providing the designs and prices they would also have to finalize the payment plans from the menu of choices offered as well as thoroughly go over the terms of the contract.

At our company, we (management) did not accept a sales or work order until the contract including down payment or payment terms was included. I know of many companies that jump the gun and start a job based on the contract paperwork coming later, and sometimes when it showed up it left out the financial parts.

Make your contracts clear—including collections.

We put our payment terms, options, and policies in writing and included them in our estimates, proposals, contracts and statements. We addressed the expectations and necessity of down payments and rights to levy hefty finance charges or place liens on property. Of course, these options were presented in as non-threatening a way as possible while still giving them the attention necessary to be taken seriously.

We also made the client choose terms and options or acknowledge our policies by initialing and signing at the various placements within the contracts and artwork. The more places to sign, the better, within reason or limits. It makes the client pay more attention to what he or she is about to legally accept.

Scott Franko is a solutions provider for business, brand and image through his firm, Franko Design Concepts and Consulting. He formerly owned and operated a multi-division sign, graphics and custom fabrication business. You can locate and contact him online at www.FrankoDesign.com