THE CRUDE REALITY –
Silent But Deadly (S.B.D.) Bad Debt & Bankruptcy
By Bobbie Burch
Just since the beginning of 2016 there have been 29 U.S. Oil & Gas companies that have filed for bankruptcy, and 64 total since the start of 2015, costing creditors billions. While whole scale industry collapses have been increasing over the last 15 years, plenty of printing companies have shown their staying power by managing credit policies with the right amount of risk. Combat the Silent But Deadly stench of bad debt & bankruptcy the only way one can: FUMIGATE.
Forget the handshake. Modern businesses will not survive without a contract that details the responsibilities of both parties. Make sure the contract lists the legal name of the potential creditor & details your rights to recover funds in the event of non-payment.
Understand your customer. Credit applications requesting the Federal Tax ID #, additional locations, officer names, & tax re-sale #’s are crucial. You’d be surprised at how much bad debt has been written off that never had a credit application to begin with, or the application did not ask enough of the right questions.
Monitor the industry your potential customer is in. Take the time to look at what type of business your customer is running. Are they new to the oil & gas industry? Is there potential for the market your customer is in to take a dive? Have there been rumblings within their industry about upcoming changes for the worse. In the age of the internet the ability to research a specific industry must be utilized. The industry itself may not be enough of a reason to deny credit, but it will help to determine how much credit to give.
Involve your customer in the process. Regardless of the goods and services being exchanged clear communication is necessary for a successful outcome. A great way to avoid SBD debt is by making sure the terms for work performed and when payment is due are are understandable, comprehensible, unambiguous, & clear-cut. Any and all paperwork from the original requests to the final sign-off should be maintained as part of the customer’s files to avoid non-payment via dispute.
Great work brings great benefits. This is where each creditor is responsible for the quality of their product. When projects are being supervised properly and employees are professional and dependable non-payment due to negligence becomes impossible.
Ask the right questions in the event that non-payment isn’t due to a dispute. Find out why the original terms are not being met by letting the debtor talk. Just asking if a payment has already been sent is not enough. Ask for the check #, amount, and date it was mailed. If it’s a cash flow issue then find out why. Request specifics as to why the balance can’t be paid and have the debtor provide the details regarding re-payment.
Turn all conversations and agreements into writing. There has to be documentation detailing the terms of any re-payment agreement as the original was already broken. Email and send a physical copy to the business address to ensure that the new agreement will be taken more seriously then the last.
Enter into any renegotiated agreement with the knowledge that they’ve already broken their first promise. Be prepared to enlist outside collections sooner rather than later as the more time goes by without payment, the more likely payment will only be received through legal channels, or not at all.