The collection manager may be an independent official ; he is frequently one and the same as the credit man; often he and the bookkeeper are one; but whoever or whatever he may be, he occupies a position of the greatest importance. He is expected to produce definite daily results -results in hard, cold cash, which are necessary for the welfare of the business. If he does not produce these results in some measure, a successor will very promptly usurp his position, or his concern will go into bankruptcy.
Here are the five professional qualities you ought to look for in a collection manager and prior to hiring one.
1. A collection manager should be experienced and trained
For the highest success, the collection manager must be a man of experience and trained ability. Beyond this, he must be thoroughly interested in his work. This is a prime requisite, without which there can be no lasting success.
2. He ought to have the ability to judge ⚖️
Another essential of the successful collection manager — and of the credit man as well — is the ability to judge of human nature. This is a qualification which can be acquired. If the power were perfectly developed, the science of collections and credits would be an exact one. It is found in its highest efficiency in the man of large experience, whose judgment, based on natural ability, has been broadened and matured by actual service in the field
of business. In granting credit too much reliance must not, however, be placed on unsupported judgment of human nature. Nor must appearances be given too much weight, for appearances are sometimes very deceptive, and facts and figures — certified by a public accountant where the matter is important — are a better basis for credit than fine feathers or plausible manners.
3. He should be courteous
Courtesy is another most important qualification of the collection manager — a qualification which anyone can acquire, and for the lack of which there is no excuse. This does not mean that a collector must accept any excuse, or fail to press his claims properly, or weaken in any way in his fair demand, but merely that courtesy must control, no matter how particular conditions are handled. The good manager is courteous but firm. He collects closely and clean, but in doing so makes the debtor — now a debtor no longer — his friend, and the friend of his concern. The driving away of customers by improper collection methods is an offense quite sufficient in itself to classify the collection manager as unfit for his position.
4. and sympathetic, and imaginative…
The capable collection manager should possess sympathy and imagination. If he shows an interest in the troubles of the debtor, wins his confidence, and gets him to talking, much valuable information may be obtained which may lead directly to the payment of the claim. Where this information is not so directly available, it is frequently true that the collection manager, by placing himself In the debtor’s position, and utilizing his own experience of the collection business and his knowledge of the many methods by which payments are made, may be able to suggest a way in which the debtor can meet his obligation. Sympathy must not, of course, be allowed to degenerate into weakness, nor imagination be allowed to warp judgment, but, properly employed, both these are legitimate and valuable aids in collecting.
5. Patience and Persistence are his virtues 💥
If not inbonit these must be cultivated, for without them there can be no real success in collecting. The delinquent debtor must be persistently followed, but with patience where patience is necessary. Though rather difficult for the average impulsive American, the collection manager must on occasion be willing to wait quietly for developments. Many an account has been lost through quick, hot-headed action. On the other hand, many accounts actually charged off to profit and loss have been turned into money by patience and persistence on the part of the collection manager.
The collection manager must always bear in mind that financial conditions of individuals, as well as of nations, change with the passage of time, and that the debtor whose bill is uncollectible at one time may be entirely able to pay at another later time. When this time comes, if the debtor knows that the collector is still after him, he will usually settle voluntarily, or, if the account is not outlawed, may be forced to settle by means of legal process. Longer drawn-out accounts of this nature may be charged to Suspense Account or can be written off the books entirely and transferred to a Doubtful Accounts Ledger if it is thought best that they should not appear as an asset of the business. To charge off annually a certain percentage, depending on the line of business, or to establish a reserve for bad debts, is a safe precaution.
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