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Published Articles by David Balovich

Title: I Don't Have The Time . . .
Published in: Creditworthy News
Date: 6/18/05

Has is it occurred to you that in addition to being overworked and underpaid we do not seem to have time to accomplish the relatively simple aspects of our job? In fact, there are more firms today then ever before willing to perform the fundamentals of our profession for us. Sadly, many of us are willing to let them.

An associate of ours recently received a call from a perspective client who inquired about his providing a service to perform a basic function of their credit organization, the reason being that they did not have the time to do the task themselves. That got me to thinking just what is it credit personnel are doing today that they do not have the time to perform the basic requirements of the department.

For instance when I began my credit career once upon a time in the 70ís, the average credit department was a one or two person operation. Usually composed of a credit manager (title) and an assistant who was often shared with another department head. We did not have desktop computers; in fact, many organizations did not even have computers. Computers were large and expensive both to own and operate. They had to be kept in separate rooms that were kept very cold and the floors were linoleum, no carpet. At best we may have had LCDís (Liquid Crystal Displays) that provided us information that was anywhere from a week to a day old. The majority of us, however, worked off of paper printouts. Printed pages, of our accounts, they were produced once or twice monthly. We kept our collection notes on these printouts as well as recording payments and released orders until the next printout was produced and then we laboriously transferred our notes from the old printout to the new.

We set up our own accounts and called the references listed on the credit application along with obtaining credit reports that were delivered to us by mail because the fax machine, although invented, was not inexpensive to own and if a company had one it was usually reserved for the utmost of important documents usually from the home office. Trade references and credit reports were not considered important enough to use the telephone copier as it was known as back then. Industry credit group meetings were considered very important because from these gatherings the credit manager could obtain the most current information on both old and new accounts. It was very seldom that a credit manager would miss an industry group meeting. Credit managers would schedule their vacations so as not to miss a credit group meeting.

We not only made collection calls but usually worked collections in the field one or two days a week calling on customers at their place of business. We had no cell phones or pagers back then and mobile (car) phones were rare and expensive so we often stopped at pay phones and called into the office for messages and returned customers phone calls who had phoned in while we were out.  And reports! Again, there were no computers or Excel to assist us. We created reports by hand and printed or typed them out on accounting spreadsheets.

There was no such equipment as an answering machine (The Carterphone case had yet to be heard by the Supreme Court), and because of that, when we were in the office we more than likely answered our own telephones.

Not only were there no answering machines, Caller ID did not exist either so we could not screen our phone calls. Behind the credit managerís desk sat a Royal or Underwood manual typewriter that we would type our collection letters on. There were electric typewriters on the market but they were usually reserved for the branch managerís secretary (the only one who had a secretary) and IBM had not invented the Selectric typewriter. Word processors would not appear until the mid-eighties. Orders were taken and credit approved by hand and then either walked to or phoned into the distribution center.

Most importantly, the only firms that we could outsource our work to were collection agencies. We handled our own customer disputes, investigated and processed deductions, issued credit memos, analyzed financial statements and made our own credit decisions. There were no such entities as credit consultants, deduction management firms, and all the other organizations that exist today that one can outsource their work to.

Credit managers relied on their NACM affiliate who provided monthly evening programs to provide education and networking opportunities. And they attended those meetings because they provided excellent opportunities not only to learn the nuances of our profession but also to establish relationships and meet people we could call upon as mentors.

Credit managers worked hard and played hard and most importantly they got the job done without ever uttering the word ďstressĒ.

Today, we have computers and the Internet; we have cell phones, pagers, fax machines, answering machines, caller ID, PDAís, two-way wrist radios (does anyone remember Dick Tracy?). We have more information available to us then we can access or use in our lifetime. And yet, we donít have the time to investigate an applicantís credit application; we donít have the time to investigate and handle disputes and deductions; we donít have the time to attend industry credit group meetings; we donít have the time to return phone calls timely; and we donít have the time to educate ourselves and our staffs in the traits of our profession. Instead we look for ways to outsource the basics of our profession at every turn because we donít have the time.

So what this old credit professional would like to know is just what are you doing with your time that you canít do your job adequately with all the time saving devices and information available?

I wish you well.  

The information provided above is for educational purposes only and not provided as legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from a licensed attorney in good standing with the Bar Association and preferably Board Certified in either Creditor Rights or Bankruptcy.  

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