Put your bad debt on a schedule

May 3, 2010
Bad debt. From the severely delinquent to skips to flat-out dead beats, we all have an assortment of each. How do you schedule these problems into your week?

Imagine if calendars could talk; I mean, like yell at us when a scheduled appointment or task is approaching or due! Maybe even heckle us if we start to show patterns of slacking off or start doing rewrites to another date. Having an audible voice to take note of such actions may just prove to be that little extra nudge to keep us in line and on time (not to mention slightly accountable).

Think about it: Most of us write information down so that our lives have some structure and we get a sense of organization. Which on the surface is all well and good ... it’s a start right? The calendar then becomes the decision-maker from that point forward; if anything is to be planned, "the calendar" has to be consulted. If the desired time is free, then the decision is automatically back in your court. Our daily use of a calendar proves that they are a great tool and a necessity—our minds can only handle so much—and this little gem is always there to help out. How else would we stay on track with everything that transpires each day?

What can/should you track with the help of a calendar? How about:

  • Goals. The goals in your personal life, as well as career. Whether you acknowledge it or not, each one of those goals has a timeframe and needs a way of being tracked.
  • Time passing. If you take a glance at the one on your wall or desk, you will notice that it is May already; in the January issue I wrote about the importance of a list. There is a slight chance that some haven’t reviewed or completed a list of goals for 2010, the clock is ticking (TICK-TOCK). Let's not arrive in 2011 still deciding what to accomplish in 2010.=
  • Weekends. Notice how there are two days off at the end of each week? Ever wonder why your eye always lands on those days first? It's hard not to stare at them ... make sure you take advantage of the time off. (More on weekends in a later issue!)
  • Bad debt. From the severely delinquent to skips to flat-out dead beats, we all have an assortment of each. How do you schedule these problems into your week?

How aggressive are you in following up once a bad-debt issue has been presented? Have you implemented a course of action? How do you track the results? A calendar is awesome for this.

We use calendars for everything that goes on in our lives, so I figured that if I had time each week to collect money from the folks on my route, that I should certainly schedule time for the money that is owed off my route. Isn’t scheduling time each week for collection calls or to swing by a tech's house on the ride home important to our businesses? Remember this money is still part of the cash-flow cycle, it just requires a little more planning before it can be added to the deposit each week.

Take a few minutes over the next few days to review those past-due accounts. Total them up and see if the amount would make a difference to the bottom line. This is not always easy if it has been left unchecked for a length of time—the number could be unsettling—but acknowledging the problem is the first step.

Grab a calendar, formulate a plan of attack and make that first call. After a contact call or visit, make notes about conversations and progress for quick review before the next encounter; showing them vigilance and eventually providing results. Staying on this course eventually spreads the word that you are serious about your money and that it is not OK for them to let their obligation fade due to a job, payroll or economy change.

Writing this info down is less that we have to remember each day—that in itself is reason enough to use a calendar—but be mindful that for the calendar to be utilized correctly we must first write the info down! Next follow through with the intended action, because there isn't a “heckle” feature yet.

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