1 NACM Credit Professionals Alliance October 2010 Vol. 101 The Perils of Credit Sales to Public Accounts: State, County and Municipal Page 1: Facts & Features: The Perils of Credit Sales to Public Accounts: State, County and Municipal Page 2: Facts & Features: The Power of One: How a One-Man Credit Department Produces Extraordinary Results Page 3: Career Corner: NACM Members Job Postings Page 4 & 5: Education: NACM Teleconferences NCS Credit Webinars 2010 Credit Executive of the Year Page 6 & 7: Industry News: Are You in the Cloud Yet? Credit App Processing: Inordinate Tension and Challenges The ecredit News is produced in partnership with the ACA, NACM Credit Services and Credit Today. Online at Don t worry. It s a state account. They re golden. Not so long ago, that was the thinking. It isn t anymore. From sea to shining sea, state governments are struggling or, worse yet, not struggling to pay their bills. At the cutting edge of impending state insolvency is California, which, at this writing, faced a $19 billion deficit and was unable to pass a budget. What s it like trying to extend credit to do business under these circumstances? We asked Credit Manager Dan Sproat of Jaco Oil. We picked Sproat, not just because he manages credit for a company in the Golden State but because of the product he sells. The margin on fuel is so thin that Jaco can lose its profit if a payment is two days beyond terms. How can they do business with accounts that may not be able to pay for months? Sproat reviews his list of 50 public sector accounts daily. If they re two or three days past terms, we re on the phone to them, he says. They ll tell us, We re out of money. Until the budget is passed, we can t pay. Then we have to make the decision, he continues. We d love to serve them. If the account can get a warrant (aka an IOU issued by the state treasury), and the amount isn t too large, Jaco may decide to carry them. But some are large. The California Highway Patrol buys fuel in $20,000 truckloads. The primary thing we look at is the balance that we re going to have to carry, he says. We re not interested in being a bank if we re not getting paid. They don t pay finance charges or interest, so you re just going to get paid what your invoice is worth and that s it. We re not interested in carrying a ton of money, warrant or no warrant, for a long time. Since many county and town governments and agencies get substantial amounts of their funding from the state, the problem is nearly as severe with them as well. Nor is it confined to public accounts. Many state employees have been told they ll be furloughed or paid minimum wage. We also service consumers so, not only are we fighting it on the commercial front, but many consumers can t pay their bills either. Please join us on LinkedIn: Visit: This is a networking site for subscribers and special friends of NACM Credit Services, Inc. based in Overland Park, Kansas.
2 2 facts & features The Power of One: How a One-Man Credit Department Produces Extraordinary Results There's a world map on the wall of Tom Cochrane's office. "That's my territory," he tells new sales reps at their meeting with him, part of their routine initial training. "What's yours?" He's making an important point. There are more than 70 sales reps in his gear manufacturing company, but there's only one credit manager. In fact, Cochrane is the entire department, an arrangement he's found to be an advantage. "I've got my thumb on the company's pulse," he notes. "If there were more people in this department, there might be other thumbs on it." That, he believes, would just create confusion. And there's no question that he's getting the work done. Last year, despite the difficult economy, Philadelphia Gear's profit goals were met and bad debt write-offs were less than.01 percent. Close monitoring and control of the entire order-to-cash process are keys to his credit management strategy, and those initial one-hour meetings with new credit reps are a crucial part of it. During these "cordial" sessions, they review the company's terms and conditions sheet that spells out credit terms, when orders must be paid, arrangements for progress payments, and policies on returns and warranties. The object is to cover all of the key legal issues sales reps need to understand and be able to interpret to their customers and potential customers. Sales Reps Need Credit Coaching Cochrane finds that most new reps, even those with considerable previous sales experience, are seldom savvy about credit issues. "They are great going out, quoting the customer, and getting the order, "he says. "What they need to learn is how to interact on the financial side of the business. They have to be able to talk with customers intelligently and not put us in a position where we can get hurt. Some just don't grasp what can happen if terms and conditions are not followed properly, and I have to make sure they do." He maintains communications with the reps over the phone, via their computer system (recently upgraded to EPI- COROR-VAN TAGE) and via Blackberries that are issued to all of them. He emphasizes that he's available on his Blackberry, which they use frequently. "I may not always respond immediately, but I will respond, and I make that clear to them," he says. "We all benefit from this two-way communication channel. If there's a prospect they'd like me to run a D&B on, I'm happy to do that." There are times, he adds, when you can't communicate with the Blackberry because you have to be able to talk to a person "to peel away the onion." There may be something he doesn't know and he needs to call and actually talk to the sales rep. NEW ADDITION TO PACER BANKRUPTCY LOOK-UPS For anyone who currently has a pacer log-in, you can now research the entire US Bankruptcy Courts for cases by going to and look under the Search PACER Case Locator. This will allow for you to look up any bankruptcy case without knowing what state the case was filed in.
3 3 Career Corner Job Title: Administrative/Clerical Office Position Wanted: Clerical person to work out of our main Lenexa office. Position would work in the administrative / accounting section of our organization, with responsibilities being dependant on the person found. Duties could encompass such aspects as purchasing / accts payable / billing / material costing / filing / etc. **Might even have them help with collections -- If interested, please have them me a resume with salary requirements to / or have them fax it to my attention at (913) Please note that you were made aware of this employment opportunity by the NACM e-credit news. David A. Sinclair Weber Carpet, Inc. Weber Flooring / Joe's Carpet Outlet (913) ext 123 Round Em Up! Past due accounts? No response from repeated phone calls? Round up those accounts and get them collected today! NACM Collection Services, Inc. 21 Day Free collect/10 Day Free collect services. Call extension 128
4 4 Education Education Update: NACM Education Department Teleconferences October 2010 Monday, October 4: Teleconference: False Corporate Bookkeeping and Reporting: Analyzing Financial Statements, recent By Scott Blakeley, Esq. Wednesday, October 6: Teleconference: Utility Customer Bankruptcy Issues By Bruce S. Nathan, Esq., Vincent D Agostino, Esq., and Scott Cargill, Esq. Wednesday, October 13: Teleconference: Tanking The Fear Out of Financial Statements By Toni Drake, CCE Monday, October 18: Teleconference: Preferences By Deborah Thorne, Esq. Wednesday, October 20: Teleconference: The Use and Abuse of Customer Financial Statements Analysis Including Ratio Analysis By Michael Dennis, CBF Monday, October 25: Teleconference: Collect the Debt, Keep the Customer By Dorothy M. Morris, CCE, CICP, CAE Wednesday, October 27: Teleconference: A Seller s Adequate Assurance, Stoppage of Delivery, Reclamation and 20 Day Administrative By Bruce S. Nathan, Esq. It s very simple to participate:go to and click on Education than Teleconferences and select which program you want to register for. The following webinars are being offered by NCS and to register for these go to October 19, :00:00 PM Webinar: Protect and Collect: An Advanced Look at the Lien and Bond Claim Process
5 5 Education September 14-17, 2010 InterContinental On The Plaza Kansas City, Missouri Congratulation to the 2010 Credit Executive Of the Year: Charles D. Wilson, III Pictured from left to right: Beth Houser, 2006 Credit Executive of the year recipient, Charles D. Wilson III, 2010 Credit Executive of the year recipient. Charles joined Meiko, an 84 year old German manufacturer of ware washing equipment, conveying systems and waste treatment systems, in December, 2002 when Meiko first entered the United States market. Charles serves as CFO of Meiko and is also in charge of Human Resources and Internet Technology. He received a B.B.A. Accounting degree in 1981 form Belmont University located in Nashville, Tennessee, and continued his graduate studies in Tax Accounting at the University of Alabama. Charles is currently a member of both the American Institute Of Certified Public Accountants and also an active member of the Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants. With over twenty-eight years of wide ranging financial experience and expertise, we are pleased and privileged to have Charles as a NACM Credit Professionals Alliance Member!
6 6 Industry News Are You in the Cloud Yet? Over the last year or so, you've probably heard the phrase "cloud computing" and thought, "oh, man, more corporate jargon" or perhaps you've ignored it, thinking it was just another corporate fad, destined to come and go after a burst of hoopla (think reengineering or MBO... we could go on). But cloud computing, we can assure you, is here to stay. It's already huge now, and it's only going to get bigger and increasingly influential. It is the future of computing. We re going to take a quick look at what cloud computing is and why it's so important a trend. First, what, exactly, is, cloud computing? Cloud computing enables you to use software located at a remote host location, rather than on your local PC. The same software (and document storage) is shared by however many users there might be for that software. Sounds simple, and sounds like you might lose control, right? So what's the big deal? Under the traditional software model, you might be one of, let's say, 10 million users, each of whom has his own copy of the software. If the developer spots a bug or wants to upgrade the software in some fashion (which happens continuously), they've got to send you and 10 million others that upgrade, and then you have to actually implement the upgrade. That's 10 million times something must be delivered, installed, and supported and 10 million times something can go wrong, obviously a very labor-intensive and expensive process. But with cloud computing, the software is now operating remotely, in a central location, ie, "in the cloud." The 10 million users are all accessing the same software. There's no need to download anything. And the developer of the software can fix a bug or upgrade the software just once on its central servers, and all 10 million customers instantly benefit from the change! So it's a quantum leap in efficiency over the traditional model of software on local PCs. Second, users are no longer bound by a particular location.you can access your documents from any PC or smartphone! No longer will you be stuck because your document is on your office or home PC and you can't access it or don't have the right software loaded to work on a document. Third, you now can share your documents with whomever you want. Let's say you're decentralized and have staff in 12 offices around the country. Without your IT department even being involved, you can now securely share a spreadsheet or a word-processing document! You can let others review it, add to it, make comments, approve it, whatever you want or need to do. Already, you can use Google Docs (a free program) for everything we just described. Every time you use LinkedIn or Facebook or book travel arrangements online, you're working "in the cloud." Yes, cloud computing is a beautiful thing. As we said, it's big now and is definitely the future of computing. So how will this affect you as a credit exec? It's noteworthy that large corporations are understandably reluctant to allow critical software to be out in space somewhere. Control and security are obviously very important issues in a corporate environment. And right now, most big companies are still struggling to implement and improve their ERP systems, which are not "in the cloud." Continued on page 7
7 7 Industry News Continued from page 6 But that's beginning to change. Salesforce.com, one of the leading cloud computing companies, has traditionally been primarily a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tool that operates in the cloud. But now, with its Force.com software, it is taking their cloud computing concept well beyond CRM and integrating with SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft for all kinds of applications. And more and more vendors of credit and A/R-related software are delivering their software "in the cloud." It's simply more efficient. Small businesses can operate their entire business (accounting, CRM, etc.) in the cloud now, and that will gradually shift to larger businesses over time. So it's a trend whose time has come. One good way to familiarize yourself with cloud computing is play around with Google Docs at docs.google.com. Have fun learning and working "in the cloud." Credit App Processing: Inordinate Tension and Challenges One of the most intriguing overall findings from Credit Today's benchmarking survey on the credit application process - completed by 343 credit execs - is that there is much tension related to the processing of new customer credit applications. For instance: Just getting customers to complete credit applications is problematic. Credit applications are often submitted with incomplete information, and the information submitted isn't necessarily up-to-date or valid. Customers are reluctant to sign the credit application, credit agreement, and reference-checking authorizations. Credit application processing and reference-checking are time consuming Getting audited financial statements from applicants is difficult. A lack of cooperation from the sales team increases the challenge of getting new customers to cooperate fully There is a lot of pressure to ship initial orders before the credit application process can be completed. And the list goes on. The following three responses offer a good synopsis of the challenges many credit departments face with regard to credit application processing. The Challenges "Large corporates don't want to fill out [credit applications]. Customers often leave sections blank. Sales Reps don't want to push a prospect to get the information. Follow up is almost always needed to get the tax exempt certificate and financials," laments Sandy Maxey, senior director, treasury operations, Cobra Electronics, Chicago, IL. The challenge is "getting [credit applications] completed in their entirety--getting the original completed application back or a legible copy, getting banks to provide references. Sales is responsible for turning in a complete credit application. If it is not correct or is illegible, it will be sent back. If the bank will not provide a reference, we will inform the applicant and ask for a bank statement," explains Tim Carney, director of credit at Nike subsidiary Hurley International (Costa Mesa, CA). "Customers do not want to provide financials or complete our credit application. They have a credit information sheet but it does not necessarily provide all the information we require. We insist on obtaining a signed credit application but are getting a lot of pressure to accept their orders and set up the customer. It's a challenge," says Valarie Murray, credit manager at Kanata, Ontario-based Zarlink Semiconductor Inc.