It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change” – Charles Darwin
On a lovely evening last week, my husband and I ventured out to a local restaurant near our home in Portland, Maine for the first time since everything shut down in March. We’re older, hence at risk, so we wore our masks and chose a place where we could eat outside and stay distanced from others.
It was so nice to be out in the world! We love the energy of the people on the street in Portland, and our adopted city did not disappoint. Most everyone wore masks, and most everyone greeted us with a nod or a wave. I think we all missed each other.
The restaurant we chose had made significant changes in order to keep their customers safe. Plexiglas dividers separated us from the staff. Menu was limited. We use paper plates and utensils (recyclable, of course). Tables were spread apart.
The experience got me thinking about my business – that of small business debt collection – and how business owners need to adapt their credit practices, not only to accommodate the current pandemic and economic uncertainty, but to align with the evolving habits of their customer base.
Adapt or die.
Here are some ways to adapt or refine your credit practices to meet the moment and prepare for the future:
Even when we could shake hands, the days of a handshake deal were done. Now more than ever it is important to make sure
All customer credit terms must be in writing. Medical practices must make sure patients sign an agreement stating that they are responsible for out of pocket costs. Payment plans should be documented, signed by the customer and witnessed.
When I started my business years ago, most people had landline phones and paid by check. It is important to speak to people in the way they are most likely to hear you. If you are not already doing so, collect email addresses, cell phone numbers and ask customers how they want to be contacted. Make it easy for people to pay you. Want a “touchless” patient/customer experience? Set up an online payment portal. It will not cost much and you will see prompt payments increase.