sample smile imageWhen taking my German Sheppard for a walk this morning, a young woman passed us in the park and we exchanged one of those smiles that strangers’ share, one that says “I see and acknowledge you, but we’re not long lost buddies about to wrap our arms around each other and sing a chorus of Kumbya”.

You probably know the type of smile I mean, perhaps you’ve shared it a few times today already, but something like the one I am sharing from President Obama.

(This tip, by the way, is geared to those of you in consumer collections and perhaps some of
commercial who have to deal with small business owners.)

It occurred to me that it is the same sort of relationship we need when successfully collecting accounts receivable. We need to acknowledge the debtor ‘as a person’, treat them as an individual but keep in mind too that we are not their buddy. Because in consumer collections, nice guys get paid last.

In my first book on collections, I had a chapter titled, “Collecting from Relatives and Former Friends”. You would think if a friend or a relation owed you money, they would pay you ahead of the bank, utility or cell phone service. But do they? No. They pay you last because….wait for it…they like you.

They figure you like them too. After all, when you call, you don’t even bring up the money, perhaps waiting for them to bring it into the conversation (don’t’ hold your breath). You talk about the weather or the latest episode of a television series while the bank or anyone else calls up and asks for their money.

If you’re a pal or a buddy, you get lower on the list to be paid. This does not mean you need to do the opposite in order to be successful, you can be friendly, but you are not their pal, not their buddy. Tim Paulsen’s Rule Number One: Ask for the money!

“With friends like that, who needs enemies?”
…old English Proverb.