Payment Professionals Community card with Levelset logo and headshot of Leslie Turpin with Credit Manager of the Month label

I am excited to introduce Leslie Turpin with Trench Shoring Company, Levelset’s Credit Manager of the Month for February 2022! As manager of the Payment Professionals Community, I have the honor to award a credit manager of the month, chosen from a group of candidates who were nominated by their peers. 

It was an honor to award Leslie with this title. Recently, I sat down with her to find out more about her career in credit, and uncover some of the insights and lessons she’s learned since she started. 

Do you know a credit manager who deserves recognition? Nominate them here.

Q&A with Leslie Turpin

Leslie Turpin
Leslie Turpin
1 answers

Lori J. Drake, CBA: What got you started at Trench Shore? 

Leslie: I was working for a construction company that was moving, and I saw an ad in the paper [for a credit job]. I had worked in department store credit at night during the holidays so I figured, “Why not give it a shot?” It turned out I was the only applicant that had both credit and construction experience, though mine was very limited at the time. 

I told my future boss, “What I don’t know, I can learn. If you take a chance on me I promise I won’t let you down.” He took the chance. Talk about serendipity! Trench Shoring Company is where I was meant to be.

How has Trench Shore helped you in your career development?

In so many ways! My degree was in Political Science, and I had intended to go to law school, but the timing was never right. I love that I get to deal with the law in this job, mechanics lien law is so complex and interesting. 

Read more: Everything you need to know about mechanics lien law

The owners of my company taught me so many valuable lessons about business. Eventually, I decided that this was my career, and that I didn’t want to pursue law school. TSC was challenging and interesting, and it allowed me all the time I needed to be with my family.

How do you measure success as a credit team and what are you doing to improve? 

Our success is measured in our high collection rate. Of course, I am only as good as the people in my department! We are best when we work as a true team. 

We never kick the can down the road – we all are willing to help each other and pitch in when needed. We can always improve communication, but I have to say, we function as a great team now.

What is your approach to reducing credit risk with new customers? 

We try to get as much information on customers upfront as we can. We actually approach it almost like we are private investigators. We do credit checks and perform Google searches to uncover anything we can find. 

Identifying risks up front lets us know how much or how little we need to monitor an account. Of course, we have a great partner in Levelset — a lot of risk is reduced just by sending preliminary notices.

Read more: How to set up a prequalification process for new customers

 What advice would you give to someone who is considering credit as a career? 

It’s not for the faint of heart! You have to be able to be aggressive when needed, but still win over your customers. It’s a delicate balance and one I have improved and honed over the years. 

I love being a closer! I love the challenge of collecting accounts that maybe someone else might not have collected. If you are up for a challenge, give it a try. It’s never boring.

 What are some lessons you have learned so far in your career? 

Give people a chance – things are often not what they seem. Be kind to everyone, and win over your sales team. It sounds cliché, but there is no “I” in Teamwork. That’s the truth. 

Be a good mentor, a good listener. Appreciate and celebrate the things about your job you love. 

Be grateful. Keep your eyes open to new ideas and always try to come from a place of “Yes.”

Read more: How to build a better relationship with your sales team

What do you like to do outside of work? 

I love listening to music, hiking, taking Barre classes, doing charity work, spending time with family, gardening, and traveling. Oh, and never underestimate the power of a great book! 

Mostly I love to be outside. Time spent in nature is never wasted.

What are three words you think your colleagues and friends would use to describe you? 

Successful, funny, and kind. 

If you didn’t work as a credit manager, what would you do? 

I think I would either be a lawyer or work in some kind of sales. I am a closer, and I love the chase.

Do you have any predictions about where the industry is heading? How will companies adapt?

I think it’s going to be robust coming out of the pandemic. We’re going to have to adapt to new technologies in construction software. We’re ready for whatever challenges come!

What are the biggest ways the industry has evolved over the last 10 years?

Information technology has changed so much! When I first started we couldn’t even rate credit.  Everything was done on instinct, and although I still rely on instinct a lot, the amount of information that is available is a game-changer. 

Credit cards and ACH payments have been fantastic as well, we’ve been very successful with both. They are huge collection tools. 

Learn more: How to make the switch to electronic payments

Do you have any advice for other credit professionals to make their jobs easier? 

Do as much investigation as you can up front. Read between all the lines. And trust your gut, it’s almost always right. Instinct was and is still very important to me. It almost never fails.

It is imperative to track your projects! Mechanics liens revolve around strict deadlines. You need to use every tool in your toolbox to make sure you have remedies for collection. 

Keep your lien rights alive: Try the lien & notice deadline calculator 

What are some red flags you look for when reviewing new credit applications?

Some customers are unwilling to give information up front, or refuse to agree to a credit check. Others wait until the last minute to do an application, hoping that maybe someone in credit won’t be there to approve it. 

I always look for information that doesn’t match. If something looks suspicious, it probably is. 

Thea Dudley teaches credit & collections

Join the free certificate course to learn the foundations of credit & collections in construction with 30-year industry veteran Thea Dudley.