Debt Collection: Lessons from the Crazy Coupon Lady

28 Aug

What’s the main objective of a Commercial Debt Collector?

I know what you’re thinking: Money is the objective. And of course, you’re right … that’s a huge part of the correct answer. But if you were to stop there, your answer would be incomplete.

Crazy coupon lady, C2C ResourcesLet’s take a minute to learn a lesson from ‘the crazy coupon lady’. Have you ever been stuck behind her in the grocery line?

I have a friend who’s a coupon maniac. She spends hours hunting for them, printing them, clipping them … online, in the paper, anywhere she can find them. Then, armed with 10 pounds of coupons in her purse, she’ll take to the highways, driving all over the city to cash in on the Mother Load.

She often falls into the pitfall of buying stuff she wouldn’t ordinarily buy just because she has a coupon for it! Dang those blinding dollar signs! And she feels great about her ‘savings’ too … but is she really saving?

You have to calculate the cost of using coupons. Done right, there isn’t one … it’s all gravy. But there IS a cost if you drive across town and back for a twenty-five-cent savings on corn chips your kids won’t eat. In that case, you’ve shot yourself in the gas tank … with only a sad, rejected bag of chips to show for it.

The irony is that my friend’s singular objective (Money) is the very thing that’s keeping her from saving it. And if you have a singular objective when collecting, it just might keep you from making it!

If you go after your good customer with collecting the money as your ONLY objective … then you’re just as crazy as the coupon lady!

Straight up, I’m not talking about the customer who is actually a crook. This lesson in collections doesn’t apply when talking about the rotten apples that sometimes wind up on the books. Your objective with a crook is to get them off your books and out of your life. No … this lesson applies to your good customers – the vast majority that are true keepers in spite of the occasional payment hiccup.

When collecting from the keepers, you have to ditch your singular objective for a two-fold objective:

1. Collect the money (in full if possible) and

2. Retain the good customer in the process

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re frustrated with a late pay and it’s easy to hyper-focus on the money (at the expense of the relationship) when you’re under financial pressure yourself. But …

Your success with quality customers over the long haul demands that you expand your focus from just collecting money to collecting money AND retaining the relationship.

Do what you can (within reason) to work with good customers toward a resolution that is fair to you both even if it means compromise. The better you work with your customer (as opposed to going after him) the more he’ll feel a sense of loyalty to you that will help build a relationship that’ll last for years. That’s where the real pay off is.


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