Get tips from a legal and financial expert on debt collection and credit management strategies
In NFIB’s latest webinar, Cliff Ennico joined NFIB’s Holly Wade and Elizabeth Milito to discuss strategies for small businesses on how to best collect on customers’ debts as well as customers’ credit issues. Ennico is an attorney and nationally recognized legal and financial expert on issues facing startups and small business.
“Sooner or later, you’re going to have a debt collection issue with any small business that you have. When it happens, you have three goals: keep them to an absolute minimum, keep small receivables from becoming bigger ones, and treat problem clients ruthlessly.”
Ennico represents both creditors and debtors. One strategy he tells clients that are in debt is to divide debts into four piles, prioritizing paying back those who are essential to the operation of business first.
Ennico advised to get payments upfront from clients and stop working or holding back products once a bill becomes overdue.
According to Ennico, the four steps of collecting overdue debt are:
- Make a demand for payment
- Try to negotiate a solution
- Mediate/arbitrate if you can
- Sue in small claims court
There are ways to warn other businesses about offering credit to a debtor that has not paid back their debts. “I know how much this hurts when someone does this to you,” Ennico said. “You want to give them a reputation that will prevent other people from making the same mistake you did in dealing with them. Historically, the Better Business Bureau is one place that you can go to, and there are other local organizations.”
For those who want to share their experiences to protect other lenders, it is important to be cautious. “Everything you say has to be 100% factually accurate,” Ennico explained. “You cannot let your emotions get in the way here. If everything you say is not 100% factually accurate, you are actually opening the door to your debtor to sue you for defamation, libel, and slander.”
Throughout the webinar Ennico also discussed contracts, debt forgiveness, when to use a collection agency, and knowing when to cut your losses.
NFIB’s next monthly webinar will be Wednesday, Oct. 5 with Donna Botti offering tips on marketing your small business in How to Get Paid: What’s Your Digital Marketing Success Plan?