Working in any business for any length of time, you’re likely to encounter accounts receivable operations at some point or another. Whether it’s in-house management or an outsourced service, every business collects accounts. It’s how you get paid!
One of the various services you might encounter is skip tracing. You might be wondering what it is and how it benefits your firm.
Skip tracing is a service for those who need to find customers who have “gone cold.” These customers have not only left their accounts unpaid for a while—typically six months or more—but they’ve also become unreachable. They don’t answer their phones or open emails. They may not even be at the address listed on their accounts.
You might be tempted to write off their accounts as bad debts and close the case. Other, more experienced hands say you need skip tracing.
Who Are You Going to Call?
Skip tracers! At least, that should be the answer when you ask how you’re going to collect on these bad debts. Skip tracers are professionals who track down your missing customers, using a variety of means. They find the customer and you get paid.
While skip tracing is straightforward in principle, it’s an activity best left to the professionals. It takes time to develop the skills required. Skip tracers also need a working knowledge of the resources available to them and which ones usually yield the best results.
How Is It Done?
Skip tracers use various public records to trace the customers who have skipped out on their bills and skipped town. Skip tracers can use everything from a phone book to various internet records, such as public posts made to social media websites, to gather information about the customer.
They may access any number of records. They might also track various other people connected to the customer, such as employees, relatives, friends, or even neighbors.
Once the information has been collected, it must be analyzed. Sometimes, there’s a lot of information. In other situations, there’s relatively little available. The customer’s location may be buried within the data collected, or the skip tracer may need to do triangulation to narrow down the possibilities.
How Effective Is It?
If your customers skipped town, you might think skip tracing won’t do you much good. After all, you can’t find them. They’re clearly covering their tracks very well!
Skip tracing is very effective in the hands of a professional. The tactic is also used by bounty hunters and other professionals who need to track down people who don’t want to be found. So long as the person conducting the search is a knowledgeable and experienced professional, the customer will be found more often than not.
Most people don’t cover their tracks as well as they think they do. The internet has made more data available than ever. It’s become much more difficult to just “disappear” from the record. Even when the disappearance is well-executed, skip tracers have methods for finding clues and crumbs buried in the data they collect.
How Much Does It Cost?
Pricing depends on a few factors. The number of accounts you need traced and the complexity of each case are both factors affecting the price.
Another consideration should be whether you already outsource accounts receivable and collections work. If you do, then you might have skip tracing services included. Alternatively, your provider may offer you a better deal on skip tracing services should you need them.
Skip tracing is a valuable service for any business. Think less about how much it costs and more about what you stand to gain by employing a talented skip tracer.