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Hang in there – it’s almost Christmas

Are you feeling like the end of the year can’t come quickly enough? I know that our entire team is looking forward to a well-deserved break after a busy year. I, for one, can’t wait to dip my toes in the sand and take some time to enjoy the Summer.

But before the holiday relaxing begins, we’ve got one last newsletter to share.

In this edition, we lead with a snapshot on the state of play for Australian businesses, Tim Sullivan shares an example of a ‘hit and run’ customer and what to look out for, and we present some interesting findings on whether men or women are better at managing money.

We’ve also included some timely tips on how to help ensure your business doesn’t fall prey to increasing instances of cybercrime.

Optimum will be escaping the office over the festive season from Friday 20 December and will be back ready to tear into 2020 on Monday 6 January.

We wish you all the best for a safe and relaxing Christmas break.

Until next time,
Angela

OR Awards

It was an honour to be recognised again at the Pinnacle Awards

We’d like to begin this edition with a heartfelt thank you to both the Australian Institute of Credit Management and all our wonderful clients who voted for Optimum Recoveries at this year’s Pinnacle Awards. We were so excited to come away with another two wins and a finalist – for the second year in a row!

Angela McDonald was awarded QLD External Collection Agent of the Year, and Tim Sullivan was a well-deserving finalist for QLD External Collection Agent of the Year.

It is fantastic that the AICM provides such a prestigious platform that puts the spotlight on so many great performers in this sector. The nominees were all excellent and deserved to be acknowledged for delivering so many great results. We congratulate all the other 2019 Pinnacle Award winners:

·       Michelle Kirkby: Credit Manager of the Year. 

·       Chad San Giorgio: Credit Supervisor of the Year

·       Siobhan Reynolds: Recruitment Consultant of the Year

·       Ashley Mason: Senior Credit Officer of the Year

·       Kathryn Kershaw: Consultant of the Year 

·       Anna Taylor: Legal Representative of the Year We were thrilled that ERM Power’s Michelle Kirkby was recognised as Credit Manager of the Year. Michelle is not only an amazing Credit Manager, she also has an amazing heart. As ERM’s first Mental Health Officer, she has established contact with industry peers to help develop how ERM delivers this valuable support service both internally and externally.  

We thank each and every one of you who took the time to vote for us. But a special thank you must go to Jason Madden from Shine Lawyers for providing his reference and for over 20 years of support, and Michael Tedman from I Count Beans for providing his reference and valued support.

The state of play for Aussie businesses

It’s been an uncertain and unstable economy for most of 2019, a situation that’s been made worse by the contributing factors of drought, bushfires, the rising cost of living and struggling industries. Our infographic below paints a telling picture of how these issues have been affecting Australian businesses.

So what does this all mean? The key message for small businesses is to be careful and tread lightly until we get a clearer picture of where the economy is headed. Now is not the time to be making large purchases if you can avoid it, and it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant with your customers. Even if you have dealt with regular clients over a long period of time, no business is completely immune to economic conditions. It’s critical to monitor and regularly credit check every business you deal with so that you don’t come unstuck if they experience financial difficulty.

If you’d like more information on these small business insights and how they might affect you, contact Angela McDonald.

Christmas 2019 Newsletter

Beware the ‘hit-and-run’ Christmas customer!

The Silly Season can be a lucrative time for many businesses, particularly those operating in the retail, hospitality and manufacturing sectors. With the countdown to Christmas and the end of the year, it’s easy to get caught up in the fast pace of this period. If a large, pre-Christmas order comes your way, you might find yourself grabbing hold of it a little too quickly without conducting due diligence.

This was exactly what happened to a business in the food services industry around this time last year. The director of a prominent hotel approached them with an urgent credit request for a large order so he could fulfil a booked and pre-paid Christmas function. He told the food and beverage supplier that his normal supplier had let him down at the last minute.

With only days to go before the function, the supplier agreed to the credit request and delivered the order without conducting the proper credit checks. The agreed payment terms weren’t met, and that’s when the food and beverage supplier turned to Optimum Recoveries for help.

Our investigations revealed that the hotel’s original supplier hadn’t let him down; they’d actually put the order on hold due to unpaid invoices. The director of the hotel had placed his business into liquidation and never intended to pay these new invoices. He had taken full advantage of the urgency and craziness of the Christmas period to persuade our client to rush through their normal credit checking process.

We introduced our new client to a credit reporting agency that now conducts thorough and regular credit checks on all of their new and existing customers.

Our client now has the information they need to see beyond the initial sale and establish whether a client is really worthy of their credit. If our client had performed these credit checks this time last year, they would never have traded with this entity.

Optimum is still pursuing the hotel director’s guarantor and we hope to recover the monies owed in due course. But it’s a timely reminder that no matter how urgent, seasonal or large the order is, it’s never worth fast-tracking your due diligence.

Talk to Optimum Recoveries about how we can help you avoid falling victim to the ‘hit-and-run’ customer.

Christmas 2019

Men think they’re better with money than women. But, are they really?

As someone who’s regularly accused of spending far too much money on shoes, I found Credit Simple’s State of the Nation report a very interesting read. Their study of Australia’s credit scores and attitudes to finances revealed that, broadly speaking, men quite possibly have an over-inflated view of their ability to manage personal finances.

Take a look at these findings from the report:

  • Men are more confident with their money than women (32% compared to 23%) and more of them feel they are good budgeters (32% vs 23%).

When in actual fact:

  • Women have higher credit ratings in almost every city and region in Australia, except in the Northern Territory
  • On average, Australian women have a score of 796, compared to only 778 for men
  • Of all major cities, the widest gap in credit scores between women and men occurs in Melbourne, where women outperform men by a whopping 27 points

Hmm, another pair of shoes might be the perfect way to celebrate this gender win!

One last point – the report also showed that 65% of Australians are unaware of their own credit scores. This is an astonishing stat. We should all conduct regular credit checks on not just our customers and suppliers, but also ourselves.

Talk to your Optimum Recoveries Account Manager to set up this search process and annual review.

Planning on giving Gift Cards this Christmas?

If your business usually spreads the Christmas cheer by giving gift cards to staff members, clients or suppliers, it’s important to know that new national rules have just come into effect. These rules apply to almost all gift cards and vouchers sold around the country. Here’s a brief overview of what now applies:

  • The minimum expiry date is now three years from the date of issue, and this date must be clearly displayed on the card or voucher
     
  • If you supply a gift card with an expiry date of less than three years, the recipient is legally entitled to use the card until the end of the three-year period
     
  • Additional fees, such as an activation or account keeping fee, cannot be applied after the card has been issued

Exceptions to these rules apply in cases such as cards gifted as part of a limited promotion.

Hang in there

How to keep your business safe from cybercrime

Would it shock you to know that last year alone, Australians lost half a billion dollars to scammers? According to The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, 43% of those targeted in cybercrimes are small businesses.

These figures seem extraordinary, but they demonstrate just how sophisticated scammers are becoming, and how they constantly change their approach and methods.

Email and invoice scams are the most common methods used on businesses, and 75% of all invoice scams reported to the ACCC are from small businesses with less than 20 employees. Scammers hack into a business’ email system, pretend to be the intended payment recipient and request an update to their bank details. It sounds so simple, but with over $7 million lost in this way in 2018, it certainly is an effective trick.

So what can you do to stop a scammer?

  1. Talk to your employees – make sure they know about these scams so they can be vigilant.
     
  2. Assess your accounts payable processes – ensure you have a solid system in place for responding to requests to change back details that includes at least two verification methods, such as phone and email
     
  3. Subscribe to ACCC’s Scamwatch alerts – so that you are instantly notified of any new scams via email
Lunch and Learn

We lunched. And we learned!

Optimum Recoveries was delighted to hold our inaugural Learning Lunch at our Brisbane head office last month. We were even more delighted that it was such a successful and positive event!

Restricted a little by available space in our boardroom, we only invited a select number of clients who were geographically close and in similar industries. We all gathered to hear from our guest speaker, Ravina Krishna, Senior Business Development Manager at CreditorWatch, who shared some valuable insights about how to understand more about your debtors to protect you from risk.

It was interesting to discover that many of the attendees shared the same debtors and were able to share information of mutual benefit. It was also wonderful to see this group of clients network and form new business relationships. And the lunch was pretty darn yummy, too!

Interested in attending our next Learning Lunch? It’s planned for Wednesday 12 February next year from 12.00 to 1.30 pm. Our guest speaker this time will be the uniquely experienced Kerrie Purcell, Managing Director of Assay Consulting. Kerrie will talk about the importance of systemising all aspects of your business processes to give you the competitive edge. If you’re keen to join us to hear how systemisation can really drive productivity and profitability, then let us know, and save the date!