Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When To Say No To New Business

When To Say No To New Business

So, I haven’t posted in a couple weeks, but that’s because I’ve been trapped under something large and heavy … not a refrigerator, but a mountain of work.  That’s a good problem, right?  Well, it mostly is, and something you don’t hear a lot of complaining about in the credit and collections world, but it’s also a problem – new business needs to be worked, and get the attention it deserves, so the client sees results, and everyone is happy.

While I’m struggling with this mountain of data, I had a potential offer of even more business – another 40,000 collection accounts, in fact.  I said no to it, and I think it was the right decision, and here’s why.

The nice thing about collection services is that it’s scalable – if you receive more business, you can grow your company.  You are only at the mercy of how many employees you can board and acclimatize, and how much physical space you can dedicate to those staff.  However, while the accountants and CFO’s might want to double in size overnight, the operations and HR folks know that it can only happen so quickly – it’s more than just screening potential staff members, it’s training and exposing new employees to company culture, and giving them a chance to prove themselves.  This process, if properly shepherded means the company will be healthy and stable over a long period of time.

So, knowing that I’m currently adding another 6-8 full time staff over the next three months, having another client drop another 6-10 employees’ worth of work on us just wasn’t in the cards – I’m not saying no forever,  I’m saying no right now.  And hopefully the client respects my reasoning, and understands I don’t want their business just for the sake of having it, to gather dust on a shelf.

Here are a few circumstances where it’s right to say no:

It’s Too Much, Too Soon

If you are sitting at 20 employees, and a potential client is going to require you to add another 20, it might be more pain than you and your team can handle.  If you have 400 employees, adding 20 is far more feasible.  It’s not just about the cost, or the time and effort to train, it’s about your company’s overall health – if you put half your company’s future in the hands of one client, how stable an operation are you running? 

I worked at a previous agency that lost a client because they decided to strategically sell their Canadian debt, and shut down their work at seven different agencies – and it represented 30% of my team’s portfolio.  Don’t let this happen to you.

It’s Not A Good Fit

A sales manager often will say yes to a potential deal, even when it might not be a good match for your company’s abilities.  If you are looking at redesigning your company completely to accommodate a client’s security protocols, or rewriting your training manuals because your client has requirements that you have never even thought of, it’s worth asking if it’s a good idea to ask if this is growth, or this is reshaping your company into something it’s not supposed to be.

It’s Going To Require Resources You Don’t Have

How many bilingual staff do you have?  Are you on an information platform like DRS or Collectlink?  Are you nationally licensed?  If you aren’t, there’s no point in chasing business you shouldn’t be looking for, and can’t meet the requirements of – there are several clients I’d love to work with, but it’s going to be a few years before I can offer them ISO 27001 certification or enough manpower that can meet their expectations.  Better not to ask for their business now, and if it’s offered, be honest – they’ll remember it when you eventually knock on their door later.

It’s Going To Change Your Company For The Worse

You are the master of your destiny, the captain of your enterprise (if you will pardon the pun) … you are there because your clients and staff allow you to be.  You need to have a point of growth that you are working towards, and some growth is healthy, and other growth is disastrous.  Remember all the good things about your company that have gotten you to this point, and hang on to those ideals.  Google had a great mantra “do no evil” … when they got away from their initial fundamentals, staff started to drift away and they came under criticism from the business world, and they had to bring their company back in line with their mission statement.  You may not be as big as Google, but there is a lesson to be learned there.


Growing a business is all about saying yes, but companies succeed by saying yes in the right times and places.  If your gut tells you a client isn’t going to help you grow, and enjoy the workspace in which you live, ask yourself if saying yes is the right idea at this immediate moment.

It’s okay to say no, really!

If anyone wants to discuss business planning, company culture, or how crazy I must be to turn away business, feel free to write or email me … always happy to chat.

Thanks kindly,

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data and Credit
Cambridge, Ontario

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