It may seem that adding a travel budget for your Credit Manager is nothing more than an added expense. But done right, visits to major customers could change the entire ballgame.
Each visit will benefit from a plan. Compile pertinent information in advance of the visit like payment history, credit limit, and a list of questions you’d like to ask. A list will help you keep the conversation moving in a productive direction.
During the conversation, make a note of the personal discoveries you make as you forge the relationship. Kids, hobbies, any point of interest upon which to connect.
Often through ongoing personal interaction, the credit manager is likely to find the customer considerably more open to revealing the company’s financials. That information alone is a goldmine in helping to determine if a higher credit limit is a good idea or if it’s possible to give the customer better terms.
When relationships are built, there’s a level of trust that helps to get things done and to resolve or circumvent problems. And when issues do arise, it’s often possible to go straight to the source to find a solution, instead of going through the AP department. From the customer’s viewpoint, it’s far easier to go to you before a problem gets huge if they feel they have a relationship with you.
Timing is, of course, everything. Choose your time wisely to get the most out of the visit. Seasonal industries have down times and peak times during the year. Use the slow time to schedule a sit down meeting for personal, one-on-one conversation.
Visits of this nature shouldn’t be reserved for the struggling customer. Building the bonds of business trust with each customer is smart. With a relationship that’s open and helpful, the customer is more likely to be open, helpful, honest and conscientious.
Many credit professionals who make visits a regular part of their work routine have found they have fewer delinquent accounts. Staying top of mind is a critical component to being among those that get paid. Being open and approachable is key to solving problems. The benefits can outweigh the cost of travel.