As the credit professional, it’s your job to spot trouble on the horizon. And the earlier the better!
An occasional off-schedule payment from an otherwise dependable customer can signal trouble, but it’s not always a sure sign. There could be a dozen legitimate reasons for paying late once or twice. From where you’re sitting, the signs of trouble may not be easy to spot.
Sales Team to the rescue!
Your Sales Team is your boots on the ground. They see the stuff you’ll never see from the view through your office window. They shake hands you may rarely shake. They see faces, shelves, employees and busy (or not-so-busy) offices you might never see.
Great salesmanship includes keeping an eye on the goings-on of each customer.
The following is a list of things to watch for. No one thing is a sign of doom, but if they see a significant number of the following signs, they should alert you right away. Trouble is looming.
- Decrease in orders
- Empty shelves/products out of stock
- Employee Layoffs/hiring freeze
- Scaled back sales team OR beefed up sales team while everything else cuts back
- Plant that runs at a lower capacity level than previous months
- Shifting job roles
- Good people leaving
- Customer launching unrelated business/s
- Mumblings of financial trouble
- Low employee morale
- Unkempt office spaces
- Unusually disordered plant or warehouse
- Office operates in Crisis-Management Mode
- CEO/Management is uncharacteristically unavailable
- Competition sets up shop close by
- Unwise spending
- Deterioration of the surrounding neighborhood
- Customer talks of selling the business
- Large number of unpaid bills
The lines of communication between you and the Sales Team can prove to be invaluable. Talk often. Ask questions. Tell them what you want them to look for, as well.