In the past several years, the cash flow of many, if not most businesses have suffered. Indeed, many companies have closed or have been forced into bankruptcy. Few, if any businesses, have been able to avoid feeling the financial ripple effects of the struggling economy.
If your business has been adversely affected, you may be receiving telephone calls from creditors, their attorneys or collection agencies. Your problems with your own customers may be causing your payables to become over due. Perhaps, business has simply slowed down for your company as it has for many others.
When talking with creditors, their attorneys or collectors, your objective is to secure their cooperation to make a mutually agreeable payment arrangement. You accomplish this by being candid but firm with the collector. You are candid by admitting that business and/or cash flow has been poor. You are firm when you refuse to commitment to a payment plan that you are uncertain that you can honor. By being candid and firm, a professional collector will likely adopt your view of your business. He is thus far more likely to be cooperative with you in creating a payment plan.
In order to convince the collector that you are being candid and firm, you must take control of the conversation. Keep the conversation focused on your business and not on the creditor’s need for your payment. I recommend the following strategies when faced with a cash flow dilemma:
- Call your suppliers first - If you contact your suppliers and advise them that your cash flow has been slower than normal, chances are far higher that they will work with you. After all, you are their customer and your suppliers wants to see you stay in business. You earn trust and respect from your suppliers by calling them first. Once your suppliers starts calling you for money, it may be too late to secure their cooperation.
- If you get a collection call from a collector, remember to take control of the conversation. Collectors are professional debt collectors. If they sense that you are being candid with them, they will likely understand your predicament and work out a payment arrangement with you. Be sure to keep the conversation on a professional and congenial note. You catch more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar.
- If you are sued, don’t ignore the complaint. Complaints that are not answered within 21 days of when given to you, turn into judgments. After a judgment is 21 days old, the creditor can get court orders to seize and sell your company’s property. Your bank account may be emptied by another court order. If you are sued, give the complaint to your attorney as soon as possible. Have a candid conversation with your attorney about what you can afford on a monthly basis. Allow her to make a reasonable payment that is workable for you. Remember, just because you have been sued does not mean that your creditor is not willing to make a deal with you.
Be candid but firm when dealing with your creditors. Earn their respect and get a payment plan in place. Take control of the conversation with your creditors and you may very well control your company’s future.
Gary Nitzkin is an attorney that specializes in debt collection. He is the founder of Nitzkin & Associates, Debt Collection Attorneys. Nitzkin & Associates has been collecting debts for large and small business for the past 15 years. Nitzkin & Associates is at 22142 West Nine Mile Road, Southfield, MI 48033. For more information call (248) 353-2882 or visit us at www.creditor-law.com.