Jay Hissong approaches every workday with positivity and perseverance.
Hissong is a credit analyst at Beaumont, Texas-based Coburn Supply Co. Inc., a provider of commercial and residential plumbing, electrical, waterworks, and HVAC products and services.
Coburn’s maintains more than 55 branches and three distribution centers in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.
Hissong works at an office outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that oversees companywide credit matters for Coburn’s.
He said it takes a healthy dose of positivity and a heap of perseverance to keep things on track in the Coburn’s credit department.
A positive attitude helps Hissong and his colleagues deal with customers, particularly when it comes to collecting overdue invoices.
“The good thing about the way we handle it is we have a good relationship with a lot of our customers, a positive and respectful relationship,” Hissong said. “So when we’re making phone calls, it’s not normally like a typical collection call.”
Perseverance also is part of the equation.
“You have to stick to it,” Hissong said, “because there are those customers that you will have to call a few times to entice them to make payments.”
According to Rick Noland — Hissong’s boss and corporate credit manager at Coburn’s — without this embrace of positivity and perseverance, it’s easy to lose motivation.
“Fortunately, we’ve got the right mix of people to do a really, really good job,” Noland added.
Those people, he said, do their jobs well in large part because they’re able to maintain their composure when chatting with customers, demonstrate empathy, and ask the appropriate questions.
“You never know what’s going on in a customer’s life,” Noland said. “You don’t know what’s taking place day-to-day. You don’t know what’s happening in their private life. You don’t necessarily know what’s going on in their business life.”
Aside from the human touch, Hissong and Noland increasingly depend on technology to carry out their duties. This includes software that automates the invoicing process and Levelset software that sends out mechanics lien notices. The significance of lien notices has grown since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s more important now than ever to make sure you’re sending notices and filing liens on your jobs,” said Jason Lambert, a Florida-based construction attorney, during an interview in mid-April.
“This is the exact type of scenario where you might not get paid or a project may be significantly delayed through no fault of yours. When things ramp up again, those who secured their lien rights will be the first ones taken care of; those who do not will get what’s left,” Lambert said.
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Hissong said that as Coburn’s grows its business nationwide, the legal resources provided by Levelset have enabled him and his colleagues to keep up with mechanics lien laws in every state.
According to Hissong, this benefit is far superior to the company’s previous practices, which involved hiring an attorney in a certain state for a particular job. Furthermore, Levelset’s software delivers payment reminders to customers and keeps them informed about lien notices.
For employees of Coburn’s, sending out lien notices once ate up a considerable amount of time. For example, processing monthly notices for an average of 75 Texas projects would take two weeks, Hissong said. Among the tedious tasks were typing the notices, generating mailing labels, and stuffing envelopes.
“Now we can spend more time communicating with the customer, as opposed to sitting there stuffing envelopes,” Hissong said.
Communication wasn’t the only thing that got overlooked in the days of manually producing lien notices. For instance, Hissong said, folks in the Coburn’s credit department now can more closely scrutinize aging reports that weren’t always receiving the attention they deserved.
Noland said it’s been vital for the Coburn’s credit department to evolve as technology has evolved, empowering the credit team to more closely align itself with the sales team. Creating a healthy balance between credit and sales can benefit both sides.
“If you aren’t willing to change, you could have just been left in the dust. That’s because you couldn’t operate the same way that you operated 10 or 15 or 20 years ago,” Noland said. “It’s just so much different.”
Part of that evolution has been adopting Levelset’s software. Hissong said the software has helped improve the efficiency of the Coburn’s credit department, helping expedite invoice payments.
“While I can’t quantify how much faster payments are received strictly due to Levelset, I can say that the credit department’s performance over the past year has been progressively more successful,” Hissong said. “The stress of unpaid invoices can get high at times. Continuous money flow is the lifeblood of our company, and a halt to that puts added stress on the entire organization.”