Spaghetti, linguine, or garbage?

A couple of months ago, I appeared on the stage in a community theatre production of “The Odd Couple”. My role was ‘Roy’, one of the poker-playing friends of Oscar and Felix. If you are not familiar with the movie/play, one of the main characters is a neat freak and the other a total slob. Circumstances have them living together and it is not working well. At one point, Felix is about to have his dinner of what Oscar refers to as spaghetti. “Hah”, Felix says, “it isn’t spaghetti, you moron, it’s linguini!”

Oscar picks up the plate from the table, opens the kitchen door and throws it against the far wall. “Now,” he says, “it’s garbage!”

Each night of the play, backstage, I would not be too far away from where the plate landed against the wall. Depending on how it was prepared, on some evenings, more would stick, for a longer period of time.

In the business of receivables, particularly the consumer side, there is pressure to increase quantity. It may be measured in number of calls, contacts made, promise to pay, or something similar. I was always taught, and put pressure on my team, to improve contacts made, based on the belief, the more spaghetti you throw against the wall, the more will stick. In other words, as contacts increase, so too does collections.

The basic concept has merit, yet after all of the effort involved to make a contact, why not improve the ‘stickiness’ with quality?

A contact should include:

  • Identification, no mistakes, both ways
  • A clear and simple request for full payment due (seems obvious, but believe me, it is often missed)
  • Establish the ROD (Reason of Delinquency)
  • If agreeing to pay, why not paid on time as agreed?
  • Effective negotiation
  • Consequences for non or delayed payment are clear
  • All delivered in a reasonable and businesslike approach

Get both, if you can. There IS something to be said for increasing the quantity of contacts and promises. Yet there is more to be said for improving the quality of your collection efforts.

Quality time, people, with your customers!

P.S. Our training programs can help!