How often do we think of taking a hard-lined view of a situation and allow our ego to be a part of the mix? I’ve learned in life it is much better to take a step back, assess the situation and perhaps take a “walk in the other person’s shoes.”
I am the collections manager for a very large corporation. We have offices throughout the state of California and an office in Nevada. I’m sure by now most of you who have read my column think just those four words, Jennifer Danny and collections manager are mutually exclusive, or maybe you’re thinking, collections and Jennifer? Oh she must mean stamps, antiques or memorabilia.
Ah, but you’d be surprised about how there is truth to the “Art Of Collecting” and not many people know that.
There was a particular situation that happened and while I deemed that account as simply a “slow payer,” as the job came to a close it was presented to me that the owner funding the project had paid the company that we were working for, and they hadn’t paid the subcontractors and vendors. It was mind-boggling and as the story continued I learned from their third-party consultant that the person who had been paid couldn’t be located and I saw this going south faster than I could keep up.
What was very unique about our conversation is the fact he didn’t hide anything from me. I know I have a gift of being able to communicate with anyone, but this was more than that. He had been blindsided by the turn of events and I thought I would be able to help him find the next step to take.
He was incredibly articulate and intelligent, so I actively listened. I told him something my father once told me when the business my husband and I owned at the time was going through a rough patch. My dad said, “Experience is the hardest teacher, because she gives the test first and the lesson later.”
The consultant thanked me and told me he would be meeting with the owners to find a resolution and to please understand that this was going to take some time. I told him I would be patient; however, it was my job from a legal standpoint to protect the interests of the company I worked for. He said he realized that and respected that, and he would be in touch soon.
I spoke with him on a biweekly basis, and after about six weeks he called and told me that the owners were going to work out the balance owed and asked if I could negotiate a price reduction. I told him, let me see what I can do. He threw out a number, and after getting the approval from upper management, who basically told me to “take the money and run,” I called him back and we came to a resolution.
I asked him how many people did he have remaining to settle everything with and he said about 30 more. He told me I had been so kind and willing to listen that when the owners told him to start settling, he said he picked me first. And I shared this little tidbit with him. I told him I had trusted that this would all work out in part because he always communicated with me, shared the truth of what was going on and, oh, I said, there was one last thing. I told him he shared the first name of someone near and dear to my heart, even the very same spelling, so in the fray of all of this I found that comforting.
He thanked me and wished me the best.
A few months later he called and asked me if we would like to bid on another project. I gathered the information and gave the lead to one of our business developers, and I said in my best Jen voice, “Go get ’em, you’ve got this!”
Throughout the years, whether in life or in business, I’ve learned that many people merely want to connect. It’s much easier to marinate in the notion that everyone and every situation fits into the same mold, but that’s not true because every situation has a unique perspective. So I became someone my clients wanted to speak with, someone who saw the relationship as more than “just business” and who wanted to help resolve any issues. That is a huge part of being a success in what you do.
One of my clients from the Riverside area shared with me that her daughter, who at the tender age of 3, had to wear a cast and was very sad about it, so I did what any mom would do. I sent her daughter a teddy bear that had fabric bandages on it and wrote a letter to her saying, “I’m a friend of your mommy’s through work and she told me that you had a cast, and my teddy bear has bandages too, can you please take care of him?” Her mom thanked me and told me her daughter holds that bear all the time.
My motto is to be the one people can count on and be the one who goes the extra distance. We live in a very fast-paced world, full of ever-changing technology and sometimes we forget the “human component.” So, as you begin your day today in this thing called life, take a moment to really think about how much of a better outcome can be attained by “never cutting what can be untied.”
In the end one never knows what next door will be opened, when the other one was closed.
Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.