It’s no surprise that a majority of business owners and their staff hate having to call a customer for money. Most people end up in that position by fluke or accident. “Mary, you do an outstanding job on our payables. Would you mind calling XYZ customer for me?” the business owner has just placed, what could be their biggest asset, in the hands of someone who is scared to death to pick up the telephone. Is this a good idea? Maybe, but more often than not – no.
Poor cash flow can severely hobble or kill your company, so it becomes critical that if you are going to delegate the job to someone internally, or hire your first receivable clerk, that you find ways to give yourself the best chance for success. Luckily there are many ways to do so. They are:
- Post a detailed job description outlining all key performance indicators (KPI’s)
- Look for previous receivable collections experience
- Run your advertisement in appropriate outlets where receivable clerks are most likely to look such as Indeed or even Kijiji
- Check references and call previous employers
- Consider the use of a job-specific personality profile
A detailed job description is critical to not only the hiring process but also the subsequent performance reviews. If the candidate has a clear vision of what you are looking for, they will weed themselves out if they are not suitable, but the right candidate will be thrilled that you have shown an interest in what they do. The successful candidate will feel like an important and valuable part of your team – which they are.
Previous receivable experience is unusually a good indicator that the person can do the job, but is not always the case. Generally, the receivables clerk position turns over frequently unless employers take the time to train people. It may be very easy for a candidate to look qualified when in reality, they have been bouncing from one job to another. As mentioned earlier, this key employee may be managing your largest asset, so it makes good business sense to spend time performing some due diligence. Call previous employers and ask key questions like:
- Was the candidate able to troubleshoot and reconcile customer accounts?
- Were they able to bounce back easily from rejection?
- Did the candidate escalate issues to sales staff or senior finance?
You are checking to see if the candidates really understand their role or if they have managed to fly under the radar at previous jobs and were a mediocre employee.
There are no university degree programs that produce receivable management clerk graduates. The most successful candidates are more “street-smart” than book smart, so placing an ad to hire a receivable clerk on a CPA job board or a high-priced online recruiting agency will likely be a waste of money. We recommend using sites like Indeed or Kijiji that work very well, provided you use a descriptive “headline” and have a link to your firm’s career page. Another option is to connect with a receivable management firm. They may be aware of suitable candidates.
These days checking previous employers and resume references are almost a waste of time. We recommend speaking to a former CFO or Credit manager to get feedback. Ask the tried and true questions – “would you hire the candidate back?” if there is a moment’s hesitation, you should probably dig a little further. Try speaking to someone other than the candidate previous supervisors, sometimes valuable information can be gleaned from an innocent conversation.
Another cost-effective method of picking a rock star receivable clerk is to have short-listed candidates take a credit and collection personality profile questionnaire. These tests have the ability to help you discern candidates with a higher probability of long-term job success. If you do not want to maintain a subscription to access these profiles, then you may want to purchase a block of tests from a local credit management firm.
About the author – Brad Lohner is a 32 year veteran of the domestic and international credit and collection industry with headquarters in Edmonton and a branch office in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Cash flow is the lifeblood of business. At Priority Credit Management, We Protect Your Corporate Heartbeat®. Priority Credit provides expertise in the Order-To-Cash cycle beginning with credit approvals, through to receivable management and finally credit and collections and liens.
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