Process is great – just don’t leave it in charge

Whether you recognise it or not, you probably have a lot of processes on the go – both in your personal life and in your business.

 

Process is mostly good, it makes things efficient and straight forward. It builds on and profits from experience and repetition and it allows us to give concrete answers to lots of questions.

 

If you are a business which has invested a lot of time – and perhaps money – in a detailed process, you should be proud and you should celebrate it.

 

But never forget – the process is the slave to the business, not its master!

 

Probably the biggest advantage that small business has over mighty corporations is the ability to respond, to be flexible and to make decisions on the hoof, without referring higher authority or – Heaven help us – a committee!

 

I have referenced below 2 cases regarding debt recovery where bigger companies had followed process to little effect, but just one disruptive action had very positive outcome.

 

1. We had funded a computer system for a small courier firm. For some reason 12 months into the deal they had stopped paying or communicating.

The process involved a series of letters and phone calls. There was absolutely no reply.

The lender called us asking what we knew. Very little, so I paid a visit to find out.

The business was operative – the decision maker was out, so I left a card and said I had called about the computer.

I didn’t hear from the customer, but I did get an alarmed call from the lender:

‘What did you do?’ they asked.

I Explained. The customer had called that afternoon, apologised and brought the account fully up to date. 

 

2. We had funded a gym full of new equipment for a customer who had several other businesses.

6 months later the lender called – they were going to repossess the equipment as the customer had never paid a penny back.

This was confusing as I was certain all other accounts were up to date – I double checked & it proved to be the case.

So I phoned the customer on his mobile. He wasn’t aware of the customer. He did admit having lots of missed calls from the lender on an 0845 number, but had assumed they were spam.

An arrangement was made – everything was up to date within 4 months & the deal ran its course without incident.

 

These cases are specific to collections – I’m sure most of you can think of parallels within your own discipline.

 

They do illustrate, however that these processes – developed at considerable cost and probably mostly effective – didn’t always work – and that considered, human input had instantaneous effect