By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
I love my work—at least 99 percent of it. There are two things that I don’t enjoy and top on that list is making collection calls. On those days when my bride asks, “How was your day?” I can only grunt in disgust. “Why are you in such a bad mood?” she asks. “Oh, must be you were making collection calls,” she answers for herself.
On Wednesday it came time to make those calls; it was overdue. You see, I back off on collections during the holidays. I know that it’s not a good practice from a strict business standpoint, but it seems like the right thing to do. After all, how can I call someone to say, “Pay me the money you owe—and by the way, have a wonderful Christmas!”? So, I opt not to make collection calls from mid-December until—now.
Thankfully, most people pay on time, every time.
Some need an occasional reminder because something happened to thwart payment: the invoice was lost, the approval was not processed, the accounts payable person was on vacation (or quit), and so on. In these instances, one call is all that it takes.
Then there are those companies who need a call for every invoice, often multiple times. Fortunately, I only have a few of them, but they sure do try my patience. Some have cash flow problems, others are bad managers, and some—I am quite sure—merely wait for me to call. Some delinquent accounts are open and honest about their situation. If so, I will be patient and work with them. Others play games. They don’t return phone calls, they lost the invoice—multiple times, they promise payment by a certain date, but don’t. On and on it goes.
Given that, when someone needs a favor, which group will I be most willing to accommodate? That’s right, if you make me call you for the money you owe me, don’t expect a lot of special treatment; I’m all tapped out. Sorry.