Today, most newspapers — for the few still reading them — are delivered by adults. That, in some ways, is sad to me.
I had a Detroit News paper route that was passed on to my brother, “Uncle Dan,” and then to my two sisters. As a paper boy, I was running a small business. I had to order the correct number of newspapers, deliver them on time, and collect the subscription fees from my customers. The first two activities were relatively easy, but collecting the money could be challenging. Fortunately, I had my dad as a mentor/advisor.
To this day, I think my paper route and certain customers sharpened my collection skills, and it became personal. During all my years at Plante Moran, collecting fees was a serious business. I took failure to collect personally — and, as a result, my outstanding receivables were generally quite low.
My advice to you is that if you have team members who are responsible for collecting receivables, make sure they have the right attitude. They can’t all have had a paper route, but teach them to act as if it’s their own money they’re collecting — otherwise, they’re just going through the motions. Good collection people can really benefit a company and reduce your borrowing costs.