Credit guru Thea Dudley has spent more than 30 years in LBM credit management. Now she's here to answer your credit and collection questions. Got a question for her mailbag? Contact Thea at 

theadudley@charter.net

I have only been in credit for a few years and it already feels like a lifetime. Do you ever feel like you are having the life sucked out of you?  You hear the bizarre, the crazy, the lame, the sob story, and the stupid. How do you keep from losing your mind and your faith in humanity in this job?

Losing Myself in Louisiana 


Dear Losing Myself,

I must admit there are days I walk to my car thinking, "yep, this is what a grown woman does for a living.” But I have to give full disclosure, I love it. Where else can you get this kind of entertainment and get paid for it? Think about it, every day is a little different, and just when you think you have seen or heard it all, someone decides to be an overachiever and impress you with their mad creativity skills.

First of all, stop taking it so seriously. No one is going to die on the table. Second, have fun with it. Learn to entertain yourself. A dark sense of humor has served me, and countless other credit professionals, well.  I like to do a little Jeff Foxworthy style "you might be a...." routine in my head.

Observe below to give you an idea of what I am talking about:

  • If your belt buckle is bigger than your bank account ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If you list your dog as an asset ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If your 1987 Chevy pick-up is worth more than your company's entire net worth ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If your references include the bait shop, the gas and sip, your mother-in-law, or your preacher ... you might be a credit don't. 
  • If you have ever skipped signing the credit application and boldly written "my word is my bond"... you might be a credit don't.
  • If you have ever offered the next hailstorm as a form of security ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If you are waiting to pay your supplier until after you sell your cattle ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If your credit application is completed in any language other than English ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If your credit application is filled out with a crayon or a large sharpie marker ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If your financial statement lists the family dog as a guard dog ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If your business plan involves explaining how the weather patterns in Africa are affecting your yearly storm business ... you might be a credit don't.
  • If you refer to your bandana-wearing dog as your business "partner"... you might be a credit don't. 

I could go on, but you get the general idea. Sometimes I vary the routines. Instead of "you might be a credit don't" I substitute "you might be sales taking to credit if.”   Sometimes I start looking around for a camera because I am sure I am being punk'd.
My point is whatever macabre sense of humor it takes for you to put it in perspective, find it, and keep it in the back of your mind. No wait, keep it in the front.  Remember, you are responsible for the lifeblood of the company. As the one who controls the cash flow, with great power comes great responsibility, and grins and giggles.

Keep it in perspective. You are not saving lives, you selling building materials. And remember, if you can't laugh at yourself; make fun of others (but only in your head).  The rest will sort itself out.