Because our staff is working from home, this issue of NACM Heartland Headliner
is only available digitally. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Here to Help 

By Ty Knox, NACM National Chair

How do you contract for the crazy?
If you have the answer to that question, your business is going to thrive as we work our way through the implications of the pandemic. However, if you are like most of us, you're probably taking things day-by-day and doing the best you can to mitigate credit risk in this new world.

As the chair of NACM National, I've had the opportunity to speak with many credit professionals over the last few months. The discussions focused on how they are handling the rapidly changing work environment. For some, not much has changed but the majority of them talked about the steps they were taking to adjust their current credit policies and collection practices. Through these discussions they were reassured they were not alone and that NACM National is here to help. 
That's why I am proud to be chair of the National Association of Credit Managers. At both the national and affiliate level, our staff is working to ensure you have access to the resources and data you need to move forward.
For example, at the national level:
  • NACM is writing blogs and eNews articles aimed at capturing information and data that gives you a perspective not only across industries, but within specific member industries.  You may subscribe to be notified when new information is released by visiting the news tab at
  • The first Credit Managers Index (CMI) with coronavirus implications was released on April 2. The CMI is considered a barometer of the economy.  As you might imagine, the CMI reflected the chaos and concern that credit departments were just starting to face. The write up concluded, "There is not much favorable in the favorables."  
  • National also added a number of coronavirus specific webinars to the its calendar. Visit the calendar tab at to learn more.
NACM Heartland, your local affiliate, is working closely with our members by 
  • Moving credit exchange groups to virtual meetings for at least the next couple of months.   
  • Participating in a variety of webinars and recapping them on the website. In most cases, they have been given permission to include a link to a recording.
  • Arranging virtual member roundtables to exchange ideas across industries. 
  • Creating a free webinar where members learned about the impact of the CARES Act on the Ag Industry.
  • Working closely with our preferred vendors to communicate important information to our membership. 
It has been said too often, these are unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, the credit department's role is to be creative and help preserve customer relationships as best we can. What is not unprecedented is the American spirit. We've had "hiccups" in the economy before and found our way through them. Tough times don't last; TOUGH PEOPLE DO! There is no doubt we will get past this and, if there is something NACM can do to help you, simply let us know.  
Ty Knox, ICCE, is Director of Credit and Risk for EFCO Corp. He is a long-time board member of NACM Heartland.
Ask the Heartland Board

What adjustments have you made to your credit and/or collection policies since the coronavirus began impacting the US in mid-March? 
Victor Clark, Renewable Energy Group
REG has not made any changes to our credit and collections policy as a result of coronavirus. We're still holding customers to their original terms.
Norman Honas, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC
We have not made any changes concerning our credit and collection policies.  We are not traveling to our locations or meeting with customers at this time.  
Jennifer Leachman, Leachman Lumber
Cash is king right now. We are continuing to focus on collections. No real changes to our credit review.  I always check on construction loans for people building themselves, which will continue to be important.  
Jason Mott, MFA Incorporated
We are looking for ways to temporarily ease the burden on our customers.  For example, we have a monthly past due letter program that sends letters to past due customers.  We suspended this program for March and will decide on what to do for April as it gets closer to time.  While we still expect payment, we are going to ease up a bit on the collection activities, especially for customers where this is the first time past due or the balance is smaller.  
Steve Stahl, GWB
I recall that my dad said, "Go into banking, they work from 9-4."  I smile each time I think of how the times have changed. 
As a banker, we  had  access to the Small Business Administration CARES Act. The SBA rolled out the program for Friday morning April 3. However, it was not fully functioning.  As of this time, we have  over 2,800  applications for SBA Paycheck Protection Program applied for. The thing that we are stressing to the customer base is that this is a one-time request so we are asking for them to review the SBA website and NOT rush to get some assistance. Once approved, they cannot come back and ask for more. The program is detailed and we are still working an extreme amount of hours to assist where we can.  As of Thursday, April 16, the SBA announced that $349 billion of authorized PPP has been exhausted and they have stopped accepting PPP loan applications. Customers and lenders are awaiting what/if there is a secondary plan.  
Credit Policy: We are adjusting quite often from the CARES Act to an internal program of granting Interest Only or Principal and Interest deferrals for 90 days.  Again, this program was put in place early on, as we did not know how long COVID-19 would last.  Since we are approximately 30 days in, I assume we will adjust this as we try to get back to normal.
Legal proceedings have been shut down by the courts for approximately 60 days. Things are on hold at this time.
I've acknowledged non-traditional workspaces and distractions which may come when employees are working from home. Trying to have patience and be willing to be flexible when able.  Staying connected with staff, making time for personal interaction and reaching out to the team regularly, whether by text, phone, email. Telling them to take care of themselves and those they care about.  New demands, new challenges, new stresses make it more important to eat well, get plenty of rest, and exercise.  
Collections:  Trying to keep conversations light to see what is going on with that customer.  We are not using the same tactics that we have used in the past.
Monitoring large accounts in the hospitality sector: Hotels, restaurants are being reviewed to see what/if they will be able to come out of this based on projected financial statements.  Student housing is the next sector to be reviewed. Then long-term care since the COVID-19 impacts the elderly in a bad way. 

Tips for Collecting from Home 

There is no stopping the credit department, even in a pandemic. As we've talked to customers around the globe, it seems many of our customers are still working - from home.

As business continues for many of our customers, so does the collections process. We have a few suggestions to help you be efficient and effective in your first-party collection efforts.

Be on time. One of the hardest parts of working from home is keeping a schedule. Perhaps the snooze button gets pushed a few more times. Or, you linger over an extra cup of coffee. All of this can be great, but it can also cause more tension in your day and cause prevent you from having enough time to complete key tasks.

Be organized. As you reach out to customers, make sure you are keeping accurate notes of the conversations. You may have access to your office files, or you may not as technology issues get sorted out, but this is not the time to be sloppy in your documentation. It is likely everything can and will be questioned or reviewed from this time, so make sure there is clear, concise and complete documentation.

Set goals. Do the best you can to set realistic expectations for the number of files you need to research and calls you want to make. It is likely everything is going to take a bit longer than you expect.

Have empathy and understanding. This is a new time for everyone. While it is reasonable to expect your customers to pay on time, now is the time for continued good will and faith that helps build a path to a strong, continued relationship.

Be flexible. Unfortunately, the customers that were problems before the pandemic will still be problems. Perhaps they are trying to amend existing payment plans. They are showing intent. So, is it possible to reduce the $1,000/month payment to $500/month for 90 days?

Consistency and calm matters. In matters of collection strategies, it is important to hold the line, but remain calm. Take time to listen and understand the situation. Offer suggestions of other ways to pay - bank loans, cashing in bonds or other assets, loans from family, etc. You want to keep the lines of communication open, so keeping calm will go a long way.

Don't use your cell phone. It's tough because your cell phone is easy to use when working remotely, but there are more reasons to not use it. First, your customer may not pick up a number they don't recognize. Second, it gives the customer your personal contact information. Third, it takes the contact outside the company system. Everything should be trackable and your cell phone may not be.

Have other questions about first-party collections? BARR Credit Services can help. Contact them at 1-877-654-1234 or Be sure to mention you are a NACM Heartland member for special pricing.
The news is not good 

With earnings calls earlier this week, along with the Q1 numbers, 2020 continues to look bleak. With only a month of the Coronavirus impacting first quarter numbers, the US economy posted its worst quarter since 1945, which included an earnings decline of 5.3%. As reserves become exhausted, defaults skyrocket and unemployment at unprecedented levels, Q2 - and likely Q3 - will be much worse.
Now, factor in how COVID-19 is affecting small and mid-sized businesses (SMB).  Small businesses are approximately 45% of the economy, contributing at least $6 trillion to the GDP.  But, it is expected that more than 80% of SMBs will run short of cash.  Almost a quarter are already shut down because they were deemed non-essential.  
And, the CARES Act, which was supposed to provide a cash infusion to the economy, will likely not be enough. 
Now, more than ever before, the credit department has become vital to ensuring the profitability of a company.  From defining and enforcing the parameters of extended terms to identifying new markers to create effective scoring, the credit team is critical to emerging from this crisis with a solid foundation.
Some things credit departments need keep in mind:
  • Credit card companies are likely going to increase the amount of interchange they charge. This means it will become more expensive for you to accept credit card payments. There are ways to pass this cost on to the customer, but you must follow current regulations.  
  • The CARES Act funds are not being distributed as quickly as hoped. This means your customer is likely falling further behind. Does this change where you fall in line for payment?
  • The stimulus money is not enough, and most companies are getting significantly less than what they requested.
  • Financials were hard enough to get before the coronavirus, but now they are near impossible. How do you get transparency from customers?  What are you listening for and requiring to determine creditworthiness?
  • There are likely going to be changes to the bankruptcy laws that will make it easier for your customers to seek protections.  What does that mean for you?
This webinar certainly provided a lot of food for thought. To view the recording, click here.  To download the PowerPoint, click here. Blakeley LLP has been hosting 45 - 60-minute webinars each Wednesday at 1 p.m. CST. We typically post the registration link on Mondays. Additional webinar and NACM Heartland Roundtables can be found here. For more information, contact  Maggie Bessenbacher.

NACM Heartland COVID-19 Roundtable
Friday, April 24 at 11 a.m.

Join other NACM Heartland members in a discussion of how the coronavirus has impacted your credit department. Topics will include: 

* Changes in extending credit
* Collecting in unprecedented times
* Challenges or concerns with the stimulus money
* Documenting the economic impact of the virus 

This interactive discussion will once again be led by NACM National Chair Ty Knox and NACM Heartland Chair Steve Stahl. Ryan Frisbie from BARR Credit Services will available to answer your collection questions. This roundtable is free.


4/23  Construction Credit Exchange Group

4/27 - 7/24  Business Law Online Class

4/27 - 7/24  Credit Law Online Class


5/4 - 8/21  Accounting Online Course

5/4  WEBINAR: Full Price vs. Unpaid Balance Liens - What's the difference and why it's so important to know the difference

5/5  WEBINAR: Commercial Cannabis Issues & Pitfalls for Business & Lenders

5/11 - 8/9  International Credit & Risk Management Online Course 

5/14  WEBINAR: LC Series - Choosing the Right INCOTERMS for Letters of Credit: Why International Commercial Terms Matter and the Role They Play 

5/18  NACM Heartland Steel Group Meeting

5/18  WEBINAR: Joint Check Agreements - a Quick Primer 

5/28  NACM Heartland Construction Meeting

5/29  NACM Heartland Bio-Fuels Meeting

5/29  July Exam Paperwork Deadline: July 27 Test Date

6/4  WEBINAR: Best Practices in Collection Techniques

6/10  NACM Heartland Board Meeting

6/23  NACM Heartland NAR-WI Credit Group Meeting

6/25  NACM Heartland Construction Meeting

7/23  NACM Heartland Construction Meeting

7/23  WEBINAR: Bankruptcy Law for Business

7/27  Certification Exam Date: July 27 
For a complete, up-to-date list of events, visit the  NACM Heartland calendar .
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