A finance company hired me away from another finance company. One of the main reasons they hired me was because they had purchased many credit accounts from the Western Auto Store that my family owned and they were having a hard time collecting them.
They had hired an assistant manager (AM) just after they purchased the accounts with the idea that he would collect those accounts.
When I started working at the company, it was plain to see that the AM had a serious dislike for the town of Iva. Whenever he was assigned to chase Iva ('chase' is the term we used when we went to collect face-to-face with someone in the field by going to their house or place of employment or wherever), the AM would complain.
Our manager would send me to Iva and, most times I would come back with money. The AM could not understand how I did this. Our supervisor assigned the AM to go with me to Iva to meet a sheriff’s deputy to go serve Claim and Delivery papers and pick up some items. We were to meet the deputy in the parking lot at the now-closed Western Auto Store.
While we sat and waited, I got thirsty. I decided to go across the street to Snuffy’s Tavern and get a Diet Coke. I asked the AM if he wanted one. He went berserk. He said that those people would kill me and that he would not have my blood on his hands. I went anyway. I went in, got my drink, and ran into an old friend from Iva and talked in the doorway of Snuffy’s.
We walked towards the car and the guy asked where I worked now. I told him the finance company. He said, "Oh yeah, I owe ya’ll a little money. I would have paid it, too, except they sent a little jerk to collect it." He asked how much he owed. I had his card in the car because we were supposed to look him up while we were in Iva. I asked the AM to hand me the card and he shook as he handed it to me. The man I was talking to recognized the AM as being the little jerk who had tried to collect from him. I explained that the AM was a city boy and did not know how to act around people. The man handed me the money to pay off his account. I gave him a receipt.
The deputy came and we served the papers. Then, the AM and I went to see some different people who had past due accounts. I knew all of them and where they lived.
We went to one house and I was invited in to supper. The AM and I sat at the table sipping tea while they ate and the subject came up about where I was working. I told them the finance company and the man said, “Oh yeah, I owe them some money. How much do I owe them?” I looked at his card and told him and he gave me the money. He then realized who the AM was and said that he was the reason he did not pay. I told the man that the AM just did not understand people from Iva.
We went to two more houses. Each time the story was the same. People paid and then recognized the AM as being the little jerk who told them they had to pay or else.
When we got back to the office, the AM told everyone that he could not believe what he had seen. People were begging me to take their money. We collected more than we went after and I did not have to raise my voice or threaten anyone. He went on to say he never heard me ask anyone for any money.
People respond when you treat them with respect. When you tell people they have to do something, they will do all they can to fight against you.
An excellent book on how to deal with people is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Dale had a good friend who wrote the book How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Both books are worth reading.
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There is no one right answer to any business question that will cover all circumstances.
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