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How to Boost Productivity with Efficient Credit Processes

Want to build an airtight credit team that works fast and error-free even as new team members are added?

Join this upcoming webinar to find out how! Alaina M Worden, CCE, Credit and Collections Manager with the Carson Team, will share her tried and true systems to run an efficient credit team.

Register for the live discussion and Q&A to find out:

  • Why payment terms are key to working smarter, not harder
  • 5 ways to standardize processes for easier collaboration
  • How to empower new hires to succeed


Lori Drake (00:12):
Thank you everybody for taking time out and joining us today. As we talk about efficiencies and credit, my name is Lori Drake. I’m the new payment professionals community manager here at Levelset. I want to go ahead and change the slide. If you don’t know who Levelset is, we try to take away the headache that everybody experiences in construction. We have software that manages lien rights, as well as waivers. We have a community that not only provides network and mentoring, but we also do education free webinars and free classes. Go ahead and change to change it today. We have Alaina Worden, CCE. Uh, she is the credit and collections manager for Carson team. Thanks for being with us today, Alaina.

Alaina Worden (02:18):
Absolutely. It’s my pleasure.

Lori Drake (02:21):
Do you wanna just tell everybody about yourself?

Alaina Worden (02:23):
Okay. Um, well, I have been in the industry for about in credit management for about 23 years or so. I have worked closely with an ACM and have worked through my designation, just, uh, acquiring my CCE this year. Um, so I feel like I have been in school for the past, at least 14 years, raising a family and, um, you know, speaking into the community, speaking, uh, at different events and sharing the knowledge that I have with everybody. I love to mentor. Um, I love to spend my free time at the beach and spending time with my family and my grandbabies.

Lori Drake (03:01):
It’s awesome. I’m still trying to go for my CCE, but I got to get the other one first. So congratulations on that.

Alaina Worden (03:07):
Thank you.

Lori Drake (03:08):
And I think if you change the slides, it’s all on you.

Alaina Worden (03:13):
Okay. So I think that there’s maybe a nanosecond of a delay in the slide, uh, showing. So hopefully everybody can see this new slide that I have up here. I’m just going to go ahead and jump into it. So thank you so much, Laurie, for the opportunity to speak to everyone today and just share, um, some of the efficiencies that I’ve learned in credit over the years, and hopefully there’ll be some value for you in today’s webinar. Um, so I’m not sure where everybody else was back on March 13th, 2020, but that’s kind of the day that everything changed. Um, for me, I was brand new to Carson and, um, had actually only been with the company for about a month and a half. And so I had not implemented a lot of the procedures that we’re going to talk about today. I’m in the middle of, you know, a, a one day workshop and I received a call from my manager saying, Hey, we need to put together this hybrid policy.

Alaina Worden (04:09):
And how are you going to handle, you know, your non exempt employees working from home? And what does the labor laws look like? And do we have enough equipment for people to now all of a sudden work from home and you know, how do we navigate through the red flag rules and how are we going to streamline these processes? How do we implement this changes? And all these different thoughts are kind of running through my mind as I’m trying to figure out, okay, how are we going to put all this together? And I’m sure many of you were sitting in the same boat going, oh my goodness, how, how do we do this? How do we overnight go, okay, we’re going to just now go be remote employees and make that work. So, um, I put together a working from home mug wrote my hybrid policy and off we went and, uh, continued to build efficiencies as the days went on.

Alaina Worden (04:53):
And who knew that we would be sitting here a year and a half later. And at least for our company still, the majority of us are working from home. So, um, but anyways, I wanted to talk to you guys a little bit about the difference between like a credit policy and procedures. So your credit policy is a set of guidelines that are used to determine what are you going to extend a credit line. If you’re going to extend a credit line, what will the terms be? Do you send statements? Do you send invoices? Do you not? Um, and just kinda defines those limits. Your procedure is going to be an established way or an official way of doing something. So that’s going to be all of your information written down and how you, how you structure, uh, the, the daily tasks that need to be done. Um, so typically I do this, uh, presentation in person, so we’re going to make it work being online. And so if you guys could just click your little button and with a show of hands, how many of you have a written credit policy currently?

Alaina Worden (05:59):
Perfect. And, uh, how many have a written out procedure? Right? If you have both of those, I’ll just put a little plug, hopefully Lori, you don’t mind. Um, if you don’t have a credit policy in place, I’m actually doing a presentation for Levelset in the middle of July. We’ll talk through on how to write a credit policy or enhance your credit policy if you already have one. Um, but today we’re going to just talk about your procedure guide and in getting that up and running and what that looks like. So, like I said, this presentation is going to provide you with different ideas on how to craft your training manual. That’s going to build the consistency within your department by using your already defined credit policies. We’re going to talk about where do you start, what data should be shared, what do you want to achieve? How often should you review your material and why is it important? So my hope is that you’ll walk away with some additional tools that will either enhance your process or help you to build a yes.

Alaina Worden (07:09):
So a couple of years ago I read an article, um, and this quote just jumped out to me and I feel like it’s really relevant today. So it just simply says if managed properly standardized work establishes a relationship between people and their work processes, this relationship can enhance ownership and pride in the quality of work performance. The result is high morale and productivity and boil boy with a year that we’ve had, do we need our team having, you know, a great team spirit and really kind of continuing to work on enhancing everything as we go through the day to day. Um, so this was written by Walter MacIntyre.

Alaina Worden (07:51):
So we’re gonna talk about, um, what information will be shared, how does share it and who should write it. So let me ask, do you think managerial tasks should be documented kind of ponder that question and you know, you don’t have to say your answer just kind of think right. For me, the answer is absolutely. Yes. I think that all processes, including those managerial tasks should be shared. Even managers deserve to go on vacation from time to time. Um, everything from receiving a new credit application to apply and payments and everything in between should be documented when it comes to your credit procedures, share and document your, how to guides is what I like to call them should be accessible, easily accessible by the team should be streamlined with some consistent flow. I’m so sorry, guys. Um, if your company has marketing teams, you should check with them on the fonts, the colors, the formatting, any kind of restrictions that they have, because goal is that you want to stay within a format. That’s going to stand the test of time. And if you’re working with your marketing team, that’s their areas of expertise. They’re going to be able to share that information with you and kind of help you stay on brand with what the company’s, um, branding procedures.

Alaina Worden (09:15):
So next you need to determine how are you going to share it, determine if you want any electronic version, a paper copy, or both. I like to share both versions. I’m old school. I like the feel of paper in my hands. I want to be able to quickly reference something. Um, it, I like that tangible feeling plus, you know, I spent many years in the construction industry and so I really like to keep those labor lumber mills in business. So do whatever works for your company, um, or works for you? It’s really a personal preference. You also want to document, uh, your information in a centralized location. That’s easily accessible by your credit team. Um, and you also want to make sure that you’re reviewing your documents from time to time. I think that it’s good to set a specific timeframe for review. So either a yearly review, quarterly, et cetera, the last thing you want to do is have outdated materials. You also want to keep in mind, if you go through some sort of ERP change or you are enhancing, um, a program for credit cards or something like that, that you’re updating that material as well. I like to use outlook as my reminder. And so I’ll just go and calendar some time that say, you know, procedure review time, and then I can move it around on my calendar as it, it works within my schedule, but at least I have it documented that I need to work on it within that [inaudible]

Alaina Worden (10:46):
So next year, sorry. So next you want to determine who should write it. So you want to utilize your team to help you write your how-to guides. Of course you want to go through it, review it and make sure that some back shortcut alley that shouldn’t be used. Isn’t used, we all have those people on our team, but like shortcuts that probably aren’t the best or most efficient way. Um, so we don’t want those documented. I like to tell my team when you’re writing your guide, I want every keystroke written down assume that the end user knows absolutely nothing about the system or the process. So we don’t want any tribal knowledge to be left out every keystroke. If it’s, you know, a period in a space bar to get to the next screen, you want to write that down period space bar tickets to the next screen.

Alaina Worden (11:36):
Max, do you want to choose the format that works for you and your company? This particular format seems to work for me and I’ve kind of carried it along with me as I’ve journeyed through my career. Um, so I just simply have a title. I have the department I have who the policy owner in their title and the date of the last revision. And then I also have a section for the purpose. So this should include the guide of what the end user is going to get out of it. Excuse me. I’m so sorry. And also your overviews and definitions. This section should include your step-by-step guide on how to complete the task along with any pertinent information that should be in there. I’m so sorry if it, like my allergies are just really, um, attacking me right now, I’m going to try and put a cough drop in my mouth and Sydney to this love to, oh my goodness. I’m so sorry, guys. You want to also make sure that you’re listing out how this format is supposed to look so they, if you have a header, that’s going to be your company logo. You want to be able to list that if you have footers or you don’t have a footer, um, what is that going to look like? Do you have fonts? What are your margins going to look like? You want to have that consistency the same all the way through.

Alaina Worden (13:12):
Does anybody have any questions right now?

Lori Drake (13:17):
I’m gonna, uh, they’re actually gonna put them in chat and that the Q and a we’ll go ahead and answer one, but we did have one question come through the, I think it was a side before the one before that said no tribal information. They want to know what that means.

Alaina Worden (13:34):
So no tribal information, meaning just all of that information that we pass down within our minds. We just kind of know it cause we’ve been with the company for a long time or, you know, Susie over in accounting and told me to do it this way five years ago, but nobody knows why we just did we just do it that way, right. That’s the kind of tribal knowledge that I’m talking about rather than the actual process. Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry. I’m not sure what is going on. I’ve never had this happen to me before.

Alaina Worden (14:14):
Um, you also want to decide on a naming convention. So how do you want your how-to guides to function? Do you, I like to put the word how to in front of all of my stuff, so how to run a credit report, how to post a payment. Um, and then I like to add them in an order. So, um, as you can see here, anything, that’s zero point X. That’s going to be the company and department information. So that’s how my basic information. This is my, how to form my, how to format the, how to guides, um, our vision, our mission statement, that sort of thing. Just basic information that you would want to share with everybody in your department. The one I use for my controllers or my analyst, and so anything that is marketed towards them, you know how to run an aging.

Alaina Worden (15:09):
That sort of thing is going to start with a one, two is my cash applications and so forth. Um, or you can use a word order. So you need to decide on your naming process, either a verb or a noun first. So for example, create an invoice has a verb first, whereas invoice creation starts within. Now. I feel like doing this structure is a little bit harder and more technical. And so I tend to lean towards the easier way of just kind of adding numbers and moving forward with it. From there lane, I got a question coming through on that. How many numbers do you usually have going through? Like you start with 0 1, 2, how many do you go up?

Alaina Worden (15:52):
You’re going to go up as many as you can. So I’m not sure if you can see this glossary or this screenshot here, but it really, um, my zeros, I have zero zero and then 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 3 and so on and so forth. And then I start my one series and I go, you know, I have one to 20, um, for my collectors and then my two series. Um, I also have my three series, which is my managerial tasks and then my four series that have my underwriting tasks Senate. And so really you go up to whatever that number needs to look like for however many processes that you have in place that you’re needing. Okay. Thank you. Yeah, the next we need to decide who should be the policy owners, so decide who should make the corrections, who updates, what document should it should be only the department head, or can anyone make the changes?

Alaina Worden (16:50):
You want to have a document process in place that stipulate those regulations. Otherwise you’re going to lose, you may lose the standardization that you’re trying to build in. She just kind of think through all of those pieces. So this is the end of the, um, kind of, um, policy manual piece. And then the next one, I’m going to move on to the onboarding. So is there any more questions on this particular, um, grouping of sites before I move on to the next, I do have an Abigail that says that she had actually created her, uh, policy procedure manual for her company. And she was mentioning that it does take screenshots. It does take a few drafts to make a, a step and stroke to make sure everything’s not missed. Absolutely. And you know, when you go through and you write it out, you think, okay, I got this, I’ve written in, it’s done, but really you want to then follow that step-by-step guide over and over again to capture all of those key strokes that get missed, because it’s very easy to let that tribal knowledge just kind of come into play and you just start doing it.

Alaina Worden (17:58):
Cause you’re like, well, I know I need to log in. Well, you want to document, Hey, here’s where you log in and that sort of thing. So it’s important. Um, and using programs, um, to, uh, like snippet in that sort of thing, will help you to be able to do those screenshots. Okay.

Alaina Worden (18:20):
So the next section that we’re going to talk about is really kind of your onboarding and cross training. Did you know that according to a survey conducted by career builders, 36% of employees lack, structured onboarding processes. I thought that that was a crazy, a high number higher than that. Yeah, I mean, I mean, that’s what I meant that it wasn’t a much higher than that. So, and it went on to talk about if only we would take time on the front end to train efficiently, we would save more time on the back end. So especially when you’re onboarding people and you’re spending all this time and energy, trying to get somebody up to speed only to get to the 90 days and go, Ooh, I’m not sure they’re gonna make it. And then you start questioning yourself. Well, did they get trained properly? What did that look like?

Alaina Worden (19:12):
Could I have done better? Did I spend enough time with them? Should so-and-so not be training and you start to kind of go through all of this. And so putting together an onboarding process just really helps to eliminate all those questions that you tasked yourself with and trying to figure it out. Um, the benefit of using, um, a program set up like this is that you have employees that are more engaged. Um, more employees are confident in the work that they’re doing. They have a greater trust in your organization. Um, there’s higher productivity and again, the morale is higher, um, and you have less turnover. So definitely implementing, um, an onboarding process takes time, but it’s well worth it in the end.

Alaina Worden (19:58):
So what I like to do is create a training checklist. So you’re going to create the same, you know, you’re going to have your purpose, you’re going to have your overviews and then you’re going to just kind of have a step-by-step guide. So this is just saying, okay, I’d like to use Excel for a lot of, um, my tasks. Um, so this is my onboarding kind of screenshot of my credit analyst. So I have my notes here, which is kind of this purpose overview definition. And then I have the titles of my team here. And then what do I want the onboarding process to look like? Well, I want to make sure that every new hire comes in, that they have the vision and mission statement and that they know our company culture and that they know our credit department timelines and that they know, you know, how to set up voicemail and all of these things that I want to make sure that are set from the very beginning.

Alaina Worden (20:52):
And so I print all of those out and then I present it to them in a nice little binder, because again, I like paper. And just to say, Hey, you know, welcome to the team. We’re excited to have you here. Here’s some information that I think you’re going to find beneficial read through this and that this goes hand in hand, excuse me, with the next slide that I’m going to show you, which is really building that, um, uh, creating that onboarding template. So I know that there’s a lot of information here and you look at this strange and you’re like, well, this is so much information. I was just trying to share kind of each of the tabs with you. Again, I did this in Excel. Um, so I have my instruction tab and then I have for my employees and then I have for my managers.

Alaina Worden (21:39):
So really kind of the instructions. What is the benefit of this? Why are we doing this? What do we need to do? Um, for the checklist for the managers, it starts from the moment or the conception of, okay, we need to either replace or bring on somebody new. What does that look like? What steps need to be taken, who’s responsible for placing the ad. Who’s responsible for reviewing the resumes who’s responsible for, you know, um, giving the job offer. So all of that is your kind of pre acceptance checklist. If you will, that you’re going to do, you’re going to have who’s responsible for it. And then I like to just keep track of it. So it’s either not started it’s in progress or that task has been completed. And then before your new candidate starts, what, what is needed? Is it need to be involved?

Alaina Worden (22:29):
Do they need a computer? Do they need a cell phone? What programs do they need access to? So you just list all of that out and then who’s responsible for getting it and making sure that then that gets sent off to whoever, maybe not everybody in your organization is going to be as, um, you know, put together on a checklist as you aren’t, so you can help enhance some other departments to be able to do it. And then for the new hire. So I have an on, uh, the, the deliverables for my, this particular screenshot is for a credit analyst. Um, I wasn’t able to get everything in here, but you know, at the top, um, I have, you know, like housekeeping. So this is, you know, um, step one, you know, logging into your computer, step two, setting up your, your phone, step three, how to use, you know, the printer, where, where is everything in the company?

Alaina Worden (23:24):
Where do you go, you know, to put your food and just kind of all basic housekeeping things. And then you jump into your training schedule. These are the pieces that I find important for this particular person to be able to learn. I like to do my onboarding for 30 days. So in 30 days of my new hire, this is my expectation of what you should have been completed, um, and what you should know how to do. Um, and then they go through that. And then I have timing within here that we meet every day for the first week. And then you’re meeting with, whoever’s doing the training and just whatever’s important to you and your company. That’s what you would put into that section there to make sure that you are giving your new candidate the best experience they possibly can. And that you’re really setting them up for success, um, to be with your company for a long time.

Alaina Worden (24:18):
Yeah. Next I want to talk about cross training and why it’s important. So I feel that it promotes teamwork and achievement. It enhances customer service, it creates your consistency. Um, it solves those problems with people being out on PTO or COVID right where like how do we cover all of this stuff? Um, it also can be great for grooming employees for promotions or additional responsibilities. It boosts their motivation. People actually like to learn something new. Um, and, um, it increases productivity trade employees can step in when needed. So there’s a big project that comes down and you need to take some of your team away to work on this project. You have other people who can jump in and cover. I like to have my team I’m, cross-trained too deep, which means I want everybody to have their initial backup person and be completely cross trained on that. And once they’re done and dialed in on that piece, then we look at who could be the second person to backup that person. So if two people are gone, that third person could then step in and help with that stuff. So, um, it takes a little bit of work to get it done, and it does take time, but it’s well worth it. When you have, uh, your, your team completely cross trained like that.

Alaina Worden (25:38):
Um, in the process of cross training, one thing that I like to have my team create, and I create one for myself is an out of office guide. So it just really is tracking those job duties that need to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis helps to keep you on track on those projects that maybe don’t need to be done every single month, but maybe quarterly or something like that. Again, it’s the same layout. Who’s the property owner, the purpose of it, the definitions, what your tasks are daily, what your tasks are weekly, and you don’t have to write out like all the step-by-step of this is how you go in and do this. You just simply give them the link to where your how-to guide lives for that particular task. And it navigates your team then to that spot to go do and have the details there without putting them a new shot into your ad office log. And it’s really just more higher level. This is what needs to be done. This is why it needs to be done. Here’s where you can go find out how to do it.

Alaina Worden (26:38):
So that is about all I have for you today would love to take some more questions if anybody has any. That was awesome, Alaina. That was some great information that I actually wished that I had when I was creating my own processes and procedures manual for a job way back. I love the way you laid that out. You do have a couple of questions. Dorothy says, so you update the procedures. How do you go about making sure everybody knows what the new procedures are? So I actually talk about, um, updated procedures and I have a weekly credit meeting with my team. So every week we have a standing meeting, any kind of new procedures that we’re rolling out or changes that I made making to it. I give a copy of it there, and then I give them the mapping to where they can go find more details on it in our shared network.

Alaina Worden (27:29):
Perfect. I have a question from Bob, how often does cross training typically occur? Cross training is continual. Um, as you know, new customers come in, they may have special requirements that need to be adhered to somebody, needs to learn it, or all of a sudden, you know, they’re now on a new portal or whatever the situation is. And so you’re constantly cross training. It’s just, um, in the beginning, I would say to schedule, you know, one day a week with lining the people up, that makes the most sense for them to back each other up and then have them start working on it and make your team accountable to be responsible for scheduling that time with each other and, and cross training. Um, and then do periodic. Um, check-in so if you have a team that has a lot of longevity and the cross training has already happened, it’s still good to have kind of follow up, uh, cross training happen from time to time. I totally agree. I got a question from Bella. What if you hire an experienced credit manager, how, or what do you say or do to get them to kind of go from what they know and to fall in line with the new work process that you’ve already drafted up?

Alaina Worden (28:47):
Well, I mean, I would say, you know, bringing on the right credit manager, right, that’s going to be open to change. Credit managers should be open to change and knowing that they’re going to come in and share some of their ideas, but if there is processes already in place, you want to be able to say, Hey, this is the way we do it at this company. Um, and you know, would love your recommendation or thoughts or ideas on how we could enhance the process that this is the process that we’re following. And then, you know, if you have your, your onboarding process in place for your credit managers coming in, you know, they they’re already been from the very beginning, from the time they’re starting, they’re already falling into play of kind of that buy-in of what this process is like for your company. Right. Perfect. I got one more here from John. Say you are busy. What is a realistic timeframe for reviewing your procedures processes in writing?

Alaina Worden (29:44):
Well, we’re also so busy every day. I look at my, my day and I, I have a list of things I want to do, and then the reality of what I can get done. And it really, I have found that I schedule myself when I, um, am coming into a new company or I’m concepting something from a beginning stage. I try to spend an hour to three hours a week on it. And so depending on what my schedule looks like, I will either schedule myself in 30 minute increments or hour, hour and a half, just depending on what my schedule looks like to be able to get some momentum on getting it rolling. Once you have your defined process in place, your review, just getting it on a calendar, you’re only reviewing it for an hour, probably once a quarter. Um, something like that to just make sure that no additional changes need to be made.

Alaina Worden (30:34):
And then the time involved really just depends on the complexity of what you’re trying to put together. Um, but it’s, I find it easier if you schedule yourself in a meeting for that time and you make it a priority and you don’t let it just be like, oh, I need to get to this, but it really is. This is on my calendar. It has to be done this day, right? As if you were going to go to a meeting and sit with, with other managers or something like that, you know, it just needs to be important that it gets scheduled.

Alaina Worden (31:05):
Well, that is the last question we have right now. Go onto the next slide. Maybe some more I’ll pop in, in the meantime. So can we, uh, if you haven’t already take via Dudley’s foundations of construction credit course, I’ll go ahead and put the link in the chat box, but there’s that, and there’s also her book that can provide a lot of the information that Alaina actually just talked about. Alaina, thank you so much for joining us today for taking time out. Like I said, I thought that was a lot of great information and I can’t wait for your next webinar. Yeah, absolutely. It was my pleasure. And truly, if anybody wants copies of the slide deck or has any additional questions, um, my information is available. Um, oh, let me just switch over to that screen shot right there. Um, so my contact information is here.

Alaina Worden (32:00):
You can also reach out to Laurie, um, and she can get the information to you as well. Perfect. Well, I don’t see any more, oh, oh, somebody has said they drafted, uh, policies and procedures. That was 30 pages. So my guess is it can take a while to put that all together. Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely not a process. That’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time. Um, really all those screenshots that I showed you, um, through this presentation took me about probably six months to do it because I went into a company that I was actually hired to put together a policies and procedures for them. And so that was mostly my primary focus. They had absolutely nothing in place. Um, so it can take time, but well, worth it to invest the time in it, because it will save you so much more later on slowly.

Alaina Worden (32:49):
Everybody does the same thing kind of across the board. Hopefully if you wouldn’t mind, Alaina, if you want to email me your Excel templates that you use, I have a couple of requests for those as well. We’ll go ahead and send you an email. That’s got a quiz for this webinar, as well as those templates. So you already have them on hand and Alaina again, I thank you so much for taking your time. You really make me want to go to the beach though, do it to do it. I think it’s going to be like 70 degrees at the beach this weekend, at least here in Oregon, which has fantastic weather. So that would be awesome. Well, thank you. If anyone else has any questions, like I said, her email is right there and we appreciate y’all taking the time out of your day to join us today. Thank you. Thank you. Take care of everyone. [inaudible].