As I am sure you will be able to tell, this is a posting yet again on doing your research. That includes the Internet, not just UCCs, judgments and tax lien searches. Internet research is often overlooked, and I think I have figured out why. We all tend to just enter the name of a company in Google or wherever, and either, we get nothing or we end up with too many hits to filter through. Nothing relevant appears to come up in the search. Because of this, the value may seem lost. Why search on the Internet?
And, before I start, yes, I know it shouldn’t come down to having to do this. You should be hopefully talking to your clients on the phone every month and not just communicating by email. Although, I doubt you would be surprised how often we seem to do this anymore… Creating a verbal dialogue and building a relationship can be instrumental in working with your clients.
You may find out more about them and their business through those conversations than you ever would in an email. What is going on in their company? What potential new sales are on the horizon? Are there potential cutbacks that may occur? These issues usually only arise during an actual “old school” conversation, not in an email. Sometimes, talking to the billing personnel or other employees will provide additional insight into the business. Building and maintaining that relationship is important.
Now, combine that information, what you found out by talking with your prospective clients and clients, with the news and research available through the Internet. Go to your clients’ websites every once in awhile or look them up online. You may be surprised at what you find, not just for potential clients in the underwriting process but also for your existing customer base.
After all, it does happen. You have a long term client… you know the one that has been with you for a long time… they tell you everything… why would you search them after all these years? Well, maybe they sold their company and didn’t tell you. Maybe they have litigation going on that you didn’t know about. Yes, I really mean this can happen, does happen, and you may not know. Every few months, it doesn’t hurt to check your clients’ websites and search their company name(s) or owners’ names on the Internet.
So, let’s go back to how to find the value from researching clients online. Why don’t many factors utilize this free tool? It is probably because a lot of people do not know how to research appropriately. Hence: no value.
But, here are some hints that may help overcome that perception so you can see that the value does exist:
Don’t just enter a name. For example, if you just enter the name of the client, ABC Manufacturing Company, you will get some results for everything with ABC and Manufacturing and Company in the name. However, if you wanted to narrow your search down to “ABC Manufacturing Company” (with quotes) then it will pull only those articles where an exact search for “ABC Manufacturing Company” [whatever is in the quoted area] occurs.
Then, if you want to narrow your search even more, you can add on to your search terms with an ‘and’ or a ‘+’ in between the search terms or quoted items (i.e., “ABC Manufacturing Company” and “Fraud,” etc). You never know what you may find, from complaints to litigation.
This works in reverse as well. If you pull up “factoring” and don’t want to see mathematics statistics, then do a search for factoring –math (with a minus sign), and it will eliminate those results.
Be sure to mix it up. Try using states or towns, other terms or owner names to see what additional information is out there. You may also receive different search results depending on if you are using Yahoo or Google as well. Try them both once in awhile.
Please remember that not everything you read on the Internet is true; however, it may give you information that proves to be useful later. You can even find old clients that owe you money still, just by doing your research. There may be a client that closed their business and opened up a new one (maybe even in a different state)… you may be able to find them too! You really can find almost anything on the Internet.
I have always recommended using this tool, along with Pacer or other services that provide background reports on companies and individuals, during the underwriting process for new clients; I should stress that you can use these for existing clients as well as those you are looking to collect out on or during litigation. Occasionally, you can find other customers to notify, alternate locations, or even other companies you did not know existed.
Not to be cliché… using the Internet may actually be like a box of chocolates. After all, you really do never know what you are going to get.
Wishing you success. The Factor Guru.