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

Dear Thea,
I am the owner of a one-location supply house and currently act as the credit and collections person. It is my least favorite job. I find it unnerving, I’m uncomfortable in the role, I don't like doing the research to approve the accounts, it’s time consuming, and I hate calling people for money. We make good profits but I don't think we can afford a credit professional. What options do I have?
signed, Opting Out in Orlando

Dear Opting,

I didn't want to be a credit manager either. I wanted to be Barbie (she has everything and is never on Weight Watchers) or a ballerina, but my utter lack of coordination shot that horse in the face. Nevertheless, I had bills to pay and credit is the job I stumbled into that turned into a career.

Did you ever think the trouble might be your mindset? If you tell yourself often enough you dislike something and approach it with dread, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

OK, I understand this particular career path is not for everyone, so I will get off my "Credit is the best job in the company" soapbox and help you with some options.

Look around your company. Is there some untapped talent there? I would take a talented amateur and see what you can create. Depending on the amount of credit applications and collection tasks, there maybe some ability to expand someone in your company to take on this role and provide value.

This option will need training and resources from you. Can you tap into resources from your distributors and set up your protégé with some mentors who are credit professionals?  What processes and tools do you have for your credit manager-in-training to work with?

Contact your local NACM (National Association of Credit Managers) chapter and see what classes are coming up to help your credit novice. The chapter also might have other resources or alternatives you can tap into. People there may also know a credit professional who is looking for a part-time role, giving you the ability have a professional while staying in your budget.

If that option is unattractive, look at farming it out. There are several companies out there that will stand in and be your credit/collections department. The challenge for you will be to decide which one is the right fit for your company. I have lots of ideas on what to look for, so I’ll touch on that issue in a later column. Stay tuned.