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The Check Isn't in the Mail

By: Eric Giltner
Senior Area Manager
Grand Forks Area Office
North Dakota District Office

Small businesses are faced every day with the problem of dealing with past due account receivables. Collection efforts often get inadequate attention because bill collecting is one of the least favorite activities of small business owners. The work is mundane, requires detailed attention to records and date, and most importantly, talking to customers about unpaid bills can be emotionally taxing.

When most businesses open their doors, they are initially concerned with providing a quality product or service that offers a solution to their client’s needs. The concept of devising a complete and comprehensive credit policy is normally at the bottom of a long list of other concerns for the business. The main goal is to “create sales” by meeting customer needs and that usually includes the extension of credit. Only when faced by demands for payments by its own creditors and slow receipts from customers does a business recognize the need for an effective cash management system.

Collecting receivables is not simply a matter of chasing after customers with phone calls and letters. The process is more proactive than reactive and involves having a total credit strategy for allowing customers to “Put it on my account!” To implement an effective credit strategy, a business must:

  1. Decide on payment terms;
  2. Determine eligibility requirements;
  3. Perform credit checks;
  4. Choose which personnel to involve;
  5. Monitor the history of receivables;
  6. Follow up problem accounts in a step-wise fashion; and
  7. Identify when to look outside the company for assistance.

It is never too late to implement an effective and efficient cash management program. contact the SBA at to locate your nearest SBA resource provider.

Eric GiltnerEric Giltner has been a Business Development Specialist and the Grand Forks area manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration since 1998, having formerly been assistant to the dean of the UND College of Business and Public Administration. He can be reached at