Help! How can I stop my boss from sabotaging my accounts receivable? He constantly allows random customers to go well over their credit limit or to take extra time to pay. How do I make it stop? —Frazzled in Fresno
I feel your pain. I’ve encountered more than my share of company owners who enjoy playing armchair credit managers. Their generosity becomes the gift that keeps on giving—and a lovely reminder of misguided generosity on my A/R.
It’s always the same sad song with a different tune. The customer just needs one more shipment. Grant just a few more weeks and Mr. Past Due will get that big check he’s expecting. But that one shipment turns into two, and a few weeks turn into months. Before you know it, that debt is celebrating its one-year anniversary with your company.
That’s the problem with credit management. Everyone wants to go to the parade but no one wants to clean up after the elephant. In case you’re wondering, you my dear Frazzled are the street sweeper in this scenario.
But fear not: The problem can be remedied, but you’ll need time, patience, and math. I learned this the hard way, many times over. After stewing on the issue, I would usually end up issuing empty threats.
A better way is to approach Mr. Benevolent when you’re calm, with facts and figures in hand. Don’t wait until you’re stuck trying to resurrect the rotting remains of a credit corpse.
Use your own personal benchmarking because the talk with the top dog is really a discussion about boundaries and values—yours and his. Take a sampling of Mr. Benevolent’s last three forays into credit management and show him—with facts and figures—the true cost of his generosity.
A forensic cost analysis can provide a simple breakdown of the product cost, carrying costs, time, and expenses. Don’t forget to factor in employee time—after all, someone had to court the customer, sell the product, and make follow-up calls.
Those harsh numbers are hard to ignore. You then can initiate a candid discussion regarding your role—protecting company assets—and how the value of that role is diminished by the overrides.
Make no mistake, this discussion will be tough, and you may need to have it several times. But persevere. No one likes to hear “stop the meddling,” but if you don’t, the cycle will continue. Let me know how it goes.
Got a credit management–related problem? Send
your questions to “Street Smarts,” in care of ProSales editor Steve Campbell at