Please don't waste your time and energy sending invoices and bills to a collection agency. There is really nothing they can do to collect the money that you can't do yourself, and YOU can be more effective. The endless phone calls to collection agencies to get a status on your billings is met with answering machines where all you do is leave tons of messages - with no returns calls. This leads to a lot of frustration and most of all - results are nil.
In a previous article, I wrote about suing people in small claims court for money owed to you, mainly stressing the importance of having leverage, if you expect to collect any money (you can read it at www.legworkpi.com.) This new post is about a collections tip for monies owed where you have no leverage, meaning you have no maximum advantage.
In simple terms, if a guy who owes you money has no assets to lien, or you don't have his bank account to attach a lien, or he has no job or you can't find him, then the guy probably has nothing to lose and doesn't care if his credit is ruined. This means you have no advantage over him. He "could care a less." Remember, these tips are for debts that are not cost-effective for you to take them to court.
I have collected thousands of dollars by using these simple tips - think these tips won't work after reading this? Try them and let me know. You have probably given up on collecting some of these debts, probably wrote off the debt and filed it away - don't. You have nothing to lose, even on debts that are several years old, so you might as well be flexible on how you are paid back. The only time you should give up on a debt is if a person has passed away or declared bankruptcy. If you think writing a personal note takes too much time for your staff to do, don't believe it, PEOPLE RESPOND TO COMPASSION.
Don't keep sending bills and final notices to those who owe you money. You know that saying about doing the same thing over and over and over and getting no result? That's insanity. It applies to bill collecting too!
Write them a personal note, in your own handwriting (or one of your staff writes the letter.) People will open a handwritten personal letter. If they see a regular bill or letter computer-generated with a label, they will just throw it away. If you had a file on the person when they first came to see you as a patient or client, use the information that you have on the person such as their birth-date. I don't use office stationery to write letters, I use greeting cards. Yep, so true. There are birthday cards, thinking of you cards, or just nice blank cards - any of these will work. People will open greeting cards.
Remember, each person is different, you cannot use a form letter or card. It might take a few cards to get a response so keep trying, like I said you have nothing to lose. Send a card as often as you can. Use nice generic cards if there is no special occasion, and use Thanksgiving and Christmas cards too. Don't mention the money on every card, space this out, but always include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Example: Thinking of You card
Just checking up on you, it's been a while. I know you lost your job last year and was wondering if you were able to find more work? Your bill is only $450.00. If it helps just send in $5.00 when you can. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for you so you can write and let us know how you are.
Several patients sent in their $5.00 each month and paid off their debt, even thanking me for being kind and patient. Not only that, but some patients paid a lot more than $5.00!
Example: Happy Birthday card
Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day. As a birthday present we are lowering your bill from $500 to $350.00, just send in $5.00 a month. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can write and tell us how you are doing - we hope well!
This woman came in and paid $350.00! Why? Because we cared..
Example: Happy Thanksgiving card
I wanted to write wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope things are better for you this year. Since this is the time of giving, we are lowering your bill to only $1200.00 from the original amount of $1500.00. Just send in $5.00 a month when you can. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can stay in touch.
Believe it or not, this guy inherited some money and paid his bill in full!
Example: Blank colorful card
It's time to drop you a line again and say hello! What did you think of the offer of only paying $5.00 a month on your bill? Is this something you can afford? Write and let me know what you think of this. If you decide not to write about this, can you write and tell me WHAT WE DID WRONG? We care what every patient thinks of us.
This woman wrote back to let us we didn't do anything wrong, and she sent in $50.00 a month until the debt was paid off.
You get the idea? For a few dollars to buy cards and a bit of your time, you can re-establish goodwill with former patients and clients, and get paid!
Here's my last special tip: WANT TO DOUBLE YOUR BUSINESS INCOME? Make sure all your current patients and clients are written to regularly, at least 6 times a year. Ask how they are, ask them a specific question that relates to them that they can answer. "How's the golf game?", "How is the kid doing in college?". You have to keep your name in front of your patients and clients a lot if you want referrals and repeat business.
If your practice has a huge backlog of collection problems, whether you think they are collectible or not, let me take a look. Remember, you have nothing to lose...