Episode #016 016 Human-centred Debtor Management with Debtor Daddy co-founder Matt McFedries
Amy talks to Debtor Daddy’s co founder, Matt McFedries, about human-centred debtor management, doing business in the right order and the holistic business approach.
The real message of this story is: “Dealing with debtors doesn’t have to be stressful! Simple process and a little bit of help goes a long way.”
Host: Amy Hooke
Guest speaker: Matt McFedries
Topic: Human-Centred Debtor Management
Amy Hooke: Good morning, everybody. Thank you so much for coming back. This morning, I have Matt McFedries. He’s the co-founder of Debtor Daddy and he’s coming in from Christchurch to speak to us this morning. Welcome, Matt. Thanks for joining me.
Matt McFedries: Thank you, so much. Stoked to meet you and had a great chat already. Love what you’re doing and looking forward to getting amongst the topics today.
Amy Hooke: Ah, yeah, yeah. Definitely. I guess, probably the best place to start is, we want to hear about your story. How did you … I don’t know … I know you had a background in a website design business and that kind of thing, so do you just want to give us a bit of your background and how you sort of came to do what you do?
Matt McFedries: Yeah. Sure. I mean, I don’t know if many people start off in life thinking they want to end up in the debt collection business. I say to people, I think it picked me. I don’t think I picked it. My nature is actually to be a problem solver, and even when I started my web company, my motivation was not really the money, it was about hearing that people were running business of their websites, or they were ranking on the first page of Google. I made them look ten times bigger than they were. That was the payoff. Hearing what we’d achieved for customers.
Matt McFedries: And so, the catalyst to start Debtor Daddy was actually a conversation with an accountant, way back in 2010, and it got me thinking, ’cause he was complaining about his debtor days being out, blowing out to 45, or something like that. Being in the web game and having my co-founder, Mark, he was a man on the tools, and so we just decided to build something. We built a prototype and signed up a few accountants. Working with EMI at their accountant’s office, that was our first integration, funnily enough.
Matt McFedries: Then when Xero came along with their API, 2012, we saw the light and thought, “Man! This is the new world of cloud and APIs and data in the cloud just opened up amazing possibilities for software and connected services. Do a whole lot of stuff you used to have to manually yourself. It was kind of a no brainer. We fell into it and now it’s my full time gig.
Amy Hooke: I love it! I love it! It’s quite funny, because a lot of bookkeepers, when you speak to them, will say that they fell into bookkeeping and it’s sort of in the same way of … you know, I’ve fallen into what I do at Savvy through starting a bookkeeping business, so … Okay, so obviously, you partnered with Mark, back in the day, doing the website design business. How do you and Mark know each other? Did you know each other before that, or … How did you get into the website design?
Matt McFedries: Mark was my first employee. I started my web company in 2007 and firstly, I hired him as a contractor, and then engaged him as an employee. Now we’ve worked together for, what is that, almost twelve years, which is good, you know. Better the devil you know, I say.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. Right. Yeah. Well. That’s fantastic. So, he started off as a contractor, and then you just started working together …
Matt McFedries: Yeah. Complimentary skill set, so I have a real passion to really talk to people and solve their problems, and then Mark has been quite … He likes to keep things simple and so, I guess, hopefully that comes across in the way that people experience our app, and even our website. How we talk about Remind, Call, Collect is our three products. Keep it simple. This is what we do. This is how it helps. Trying to make what is often seen as a complicated and difficult task, simple and straight forward. That’s really the goal, with our approach.
Amy Hooke: You’ve done a great job with your website. When you first connected with me I had a bit of a browse of your website, and I love the way it is so simple and I found it’s an easy to connect with. It’s very easy to understand what it is that you do. I loved how you said … You talked about a holistic human centered way to manage debtors, so there was a couple of things that you actually said on the website that really grabbed me. I could see the values that the two of you hold, coming through that website and through your LinkedIn posts and things like that, as well. I thought was great, so that’s why I thought it would be really good to get you on to chat to our listeners today. We’re always looking for people who actually care about what they do. Anyone can start a company ’cause they wanna make money and that kind of thing, but to have those deeper reasons behind why you do what you do, is really important.
Amy Hooke: It’s great. I love it. Just before we got on the show, you were talking about how, one of your values, you actually mentioned justice. You were talking about justice and how your team love what you do because of that core value that you accidentally discovered. Do you wanna just share a little bit about what you do for small businesses, for bookkeepers, and accountants, and why?
Matt McFedries: Yeah. Sure. I think, and this kinda surprised me, people ask us, “How does your team stay on the phone and do all these calls, and ultimately chase people for money?” Which is kind of a bad way to say it, ’cause chasing has this negative connotation. Most of our calls are more like customer service calls. “Did you get the invoice? Is everything okay with the job?” and “When can we expect payment?” That’s the crux of the calls that we make.
Matt McFedries: Sometimes, they become confrontational. I mean, it’s natural for that to happen and there’s all sorts of reasons why. But, we had a team session, or a team day, to understand our values, as a company, and that’s where this justice angle came out. I discovered my team were highly motivated to make right, this wrong thing. It’s wrong when you do work and somebody doesn’t then pay you, according to what you’ve agreed, which might be within 14 days, or it might be the amount. A promise gets made, and then a promise gets broken. Resolving that broken promise is something that really matters. I can see the comments that go back and forth between my receivables team and our clients, and it always just feels to me like my team’s going in to bat for you. I love that.
Matt McFedries: So, we’re your team and we’re your messenger. You know, “Don’t shoot the messenger! We bring good news or bad news. You need to pay this, but the good news is, we’re not gonna be dicks about it.” You know. We will give you the benefit of the doubt that you want to be a good customer, you want to be a good payer. Something must have happened along the way that means that you’re not willing or you’re not ready or you can’t pay that invoice.
Matt McFedries: Our job is to get to the bottom of that as humanly, as possible. The worst version of, whether you call it credit control or debt collection or debtor management, is where it’s inhuman. It’s just automation, treats customers poorly. That’s a thing that we care deeply about and we’re trying to fix with our approach. That’s why I’m glad that that comes through on our website, ’cause that really does drive our approach, and what we do and how we do it.
Amy Hooke: Wow. Yeah. It’s just so cool. It’s actually very inspiring and I was … Did you … Obviously, in the website design game, when you first started out, did you initially go through … Did you have experiences of having clients not paying you? Did you struggle with your debtors back when you were running your first business? Was that part … Yeah. Sorry. You go …
Matt McFedries: Yeah. That was, I guess, when I said, my conversation with the accountant was the catalyst to start the business, but I definitely had experienced the pain myself and there was no readily available solution that I could see, that would make that pain go away with the limited time and cash that I had to spend in that part of the business.
Matt McFedries: For small businesses, you’ll see our pricing is … You can have a passionate specialist working for you as part of your team for 120 bucks a month, doing calls for you. We’re probably too cheap, you know.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. That’s right. I guess, it’s good, in a way, if you’ve been first in that position where you’ve experienced what it’s like to be at the other end. But then I love the way you have this human centered view, which is because you’ve got a human on both sides. It’s easy to go, “Oh. It’s us against them. This person owes me money.”
Amy Hooke: I think, with bookkeepers, when we’re working in a client’s business, we’re there for that client. Then you might have the client who’s upset that the person’s not paying, then they’re wanting the bookkeeper to go in and bat for them. Obviously, they’re seeing that person as potentially the bad guy, if they haven’t paid.
Amy Hooke: It’s good, I guess it’s great what you guys do because it takes … It gives an opportunity for it to be … Obviously, the bookkeeper can get a bit emotionally involved with their client, as well. They might see the non-payer as the bad guy, as well. Whereas you guys can come in with a different perspective, without the emotion attached to it, as well, to be able to get better potential results.
Matt McFedries: Yeah. Absolutely. That emotional aspect, which is really hard to separate yourself from, as a business owner. It’s hard not to take it personally, especially, in a professional service. I was the same with my web company. You take pride in your work, and you ship it, and you deliver it. Then, not being paid could be a bit of an insult, really.
Amy Hooke: It is an insult, yeah.
Matt McFedries: But, having that person that’s detached from the situation means that they can handle that call in the most positive way. Our goal is actually to build rapport and trust on those conversations. Like giving the benefit of the doubt, assuming the best. But, also, my team have got good bullshit detectors …
Amy Hooke: Haha. That’s right! You need that.
Matt McFedries: We get all kinds of excuses. People pretending that they’re at the hospital with some pretty severe health problems, but then discovering they’re actually at work. It’s amazing the lengths that some people go to. I mean, they are the exceptions, but they are out there and part of our job is to get good at determining, is this person actually, can I say, good bastard.
Matt McFedries: You know, they will do what they say they’re gonna do. Usually, by the third call, we’ll follow up to say, “Hey, look. You said you were gonna pay this.” Often, it’s a that point then the real story comes out. Maybe there’s personal issues, family issues or health issues going on, and we’re respectful of that. Likewise, if you’re dealing with other smallish businesses, then cashflow is a constant challenge for every business, so there will be times when they can’t meet that payment. So, what is the way forward? Often, we’re saying, “Well, can you pay something?” That’s a step of good faith. “A couple of hundred bucks. What can you afford?” Ideally, you want to retain that customer, and unless they prove themself to be constantly unreasonable.
Matt McFedries: We coach our clients to take firmer action, and feel okay about it, because you actually need to. To this date, there’s still too many businesses out there that should probably cease to exist. They are sucking capital out of too many other businesses because they’re not operating well. It’s actually a responsibility, I think, to be taking firmer action on people that repeatedly don’t pay.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. That’s right. Obviously, I’ve been a little bit nosy to hear about your background, and hear about the why behind what you do. I guess, it would probably be good if you can share with our listeners about what it specifically is that you do. Obviously, we’ve talked about why you’re interested in the debt space. Do you wanna just give us a quick run down of the actual service that you offer and the process?
Matt McFedries: Sure. I will just guide you through a typical customer journey, alright. Often, they hit our website and they’ll sign up for a trial. We have a 14 day free trial for people to check out our software. But we’re getting into more consulting because, and I think you coach your clients on these points, as well as around how do you create a good proposal? How do you set pricing? Can you ask for a deposit? At what point do you present your terms and what should your terms be?
Matt McFedries: Often, when we’re looking at debt that’s sitting in the +60 or +90 days, sometimes we can see issues that were created right back at the quote stage, and we see it as our responsibility to diagnose those things. We do some quite deep dive strategies for people to go, “This is how you can improve your ultimate cashflow cycle. Turn that profit into cash, that much quicker by dotting some Is and crossing some Ts with your quotes.” Or, “Your onboarding process, are you collecting the right contact details for the person that approved the expenditure, and then who pays the bills.
Matt McFedries: Just note this down, anyone that’s listening, make sure you get mobile numbers. Get it in the beginning when everyone’s like, “Hi fives! Yay! Let’s do this! This is gonna be fun!” Get the mobile numbers, ’cause then, down the track when we’re trying to get hold of people, ’cause if they’re having cashflow problems, they’re gonna be hard to get hold of, because you might not be the only one chasing money. Being able to send a text message and gently reminding them that when they do have cash, it’s coming to you.
Matt McFedries: So, sorry, to answer your question, the consulting piece which is so we can solve really well and then we create a configuration of our automated reminders, which then flow naturally into our call service, which then flow naturally into debt collection. What we figure out is, what is the timing in the rules we’re gonna set up for your business that means that, it might be, two reminders, seven days apart, phone call, phone call, stop work, recommend debt collection, which we’d then discuss with you.
Matt McFedries: So, it becomes this predefined process, which makes it less emotional for you. Because then you can say, “Well, this is our process. We’re professional about this part of the business,” and you’re not having to make up your response on the spot, which is often more emotional.
Matt McFedries: It’s just like, “No. We’re following our good process and we know that it works and it gives us predictable results and predictable cashflow.” So, in the end, like in this case, what I say to my clients, is that ultimately, when you feel like you can fully trust us with this part of the business, you feel less distracted and stressed about cash and collection, then Debtor Daddy’s done its job.
Matt McFedries: It’s how you feel, right. That’s our measure of success, is we get those products working for you.
Amy Hooke: Wow. I love it. You said, one thing you said to me that stood right out, which was that when you come into a situation where there’s outstanding debts, you can trace it back, and there’s always something in the beginning that happened. I think that’s so true, and I’m sure our listeners are gonna relate to that.
Amy Hooke: So often, we say, as bookkeepers, when we get to a point where there’s a client who’s not paying the bill, we always end up saying, so many times I’ve heard this happen, and it’s happened to me, as well, in the early days of my bookkeeping business when I didn’t have these structures in place, often there’s been times where something will go to debt collection, and we turn around and we say, “Oh. I actually knew, right back at the start that something wasn’t quite right.”
Amy Hooke: So, I remember when I first started introducing engagement letters in my business, ’cause I didn’t have them at first, or I had a very, very small brief one that, I didn’t really understand that you had to have all these different details in there. I remember doing my first fixed price quote, and it didn’t really have any kind of engagement terms or anything like that. Then it went wrong, and there was nothing to refer to.
Amy Hooke: When I sent it to the debt collector, he said, “There’s nothing in here that shows what you’ve agreed to,” so I thought, “Well, I need engagement letters in my business. As I started to introduce those, I started to notice that right in the very first meetings, I’d sit down and look at the engagement letter with the prospective client. Then I would be able to see, based on their reaction to the engagement letter … Some people … I remember, clients actually made fun of my process. I was so green in the business but they would say, “Oh, gosh! You’d think I’d be signing a million dollar contract,” and all this sort of thing.
Amy Hooke: So, they’d look at my engagement letter and they would actually mock me. So, the thing is, I didn’t understand, at the time what was happening, so I’d go ahead and engage the client, and sure enough, something would go wrong down the track. That person didn’t actually respect my values, they didn’t respect my terms. Whereas, I started to pay attention to that, I could actually see that, when you have a bit of structure up front, it can actually act as a filter, and you can even avoid …
Amy Hooke: Like, obviously, with debt collection, anyone can run out of money, even good people that don’t have bad intentions, but at least if you’ve got a system in place, you can start to filter out some of those more insidious types of people that potentially go in. They might want to hire a bookkeeper just to get them up to date and they have no intention of paying. They just wanna get their books done and maybe, potentially, they don’t even …
Amy Hooke: They maybe just go to the next bookkeeper. I actually had a client like that once, who went to the next bookkeeper and the next bookkeeper and … Yeah, so there are a few bad guys out there, and that kind of thing, but you can put structures in place to help themself identify, I guess.
Matt McFedries: Yeah. In my web company, we ended up setting a rule that for deals below, I think it was, like, 2.5k projects, was always 100% upfront. That took us a few steps of confidence to actually be able to do that, but once again, it’s saying, “Well, these are our rules. This is how we operate,” and it does become that filter for customers.
Matt McFedries: Thinking about even deposits, if someone can’t pay you, say, a $500 deposit today, what makes you think they’re gonna have it in seven days or fourteen days? What’s the reason? Is it a trust issue? I think it’s such a good conversation to have early on, getting something upfront, even if it’s a token amount, I think, gives them skin in the game from the get go.
Matt McFedries: It also shows that you’re confident, you value even their first conversation, as you start to diagnose the issues in your sales conversation. You need to value the experience you bring to the table and that comes across in how you quote and how much you ask for upfront.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. That’s right. It’s interesting that you said that it took you a few steps to get the confidence to be able to do that, and I think that’s definitely the case with bookkeepers. Even being able to say … Is it okay to ask, for example, I help my clients set up their package prices that they can do their initial proposals, and in our engagement letter, we have the term that if the initial setup is under $1000, they pay in full, and if it’s over $1000, they can pay in installments.
Amy Hooke: Even having bookkeepers say to me, “Is it okay? Will people really pay that? Will people really pay more than $1000 upfront for their bookkeeping?” It’s like, “Yeah. Of course they will!” But if you’ve been in the head space of being so scared to even ask people to pay you the money for the work that you’ve already done, let alone money upfront, it is a mindset shift and it does take a little bit of reassurance, and then testing it out.
Amy Hooke: So many of my clients would come back and go, “Wow! Like it actually worked! I did it and they just paid the whole thing up front!” They might think, “Oh, gosh! Did someone really pay $4000 up front for a bookkeeping rescue job?” And it’s like, “Yeah!” Whereas, obviously, the stuff that you do can obviously help encourage, you know, help bookkeepers to be able to get a hold of doing their collections in the right order, but it can also help their clients.
Amy Hooke: So, it’s not just for helping the bookkeepers, but it can help their clients. Because with bookkeeping, you can take the payment upfront. With a website, you can take the payment upfront, but there are many industries bookkeepers are serving business owners that you can’t take the money upfront. Potentially, maybe the construction industry, they might take a deposit or something like that, but there’ll be industries where it’s just not realistic to take the money before the work is done.
Amy Hooke: What do you find, in regards to that? Do you always recommend a deposit on every type of work or are there certain types of businesses out there where that model doesn’t work for them?
Matt McFedries: I think … We’re seeing it, actually, in the accounting and bookkeeping industry, where you’ve gotta … Basically, you’re signing up an annual engagement, so, I think, with accounts specifically, the annual fee turns into a monthly fee. I guess, they’re trying to de-risk it, but at some point, they’re taking risk if they’re doing the job three months and … I think, if it’s project work, particularly bookkeeping, where you’ve got fix ups to do or you might even have software implementation to do, I think a deposit should just be standard.
Matt McFedries: It does depend on the industry. You need to know your customer and what they’re willing to pay. Some people are worried, “Well, if I ask for cash upfront, that customer’s gonna go somewhere else.” But, if that’s your fear then, can you test it? Can you ask … Don’t be afraid to ask customers, “Why is a deposit uncomfortable for you?” or “Why doesn’t that work for your business?”
Matt McFedries: You could be upfront and say, “Well, I’m investing time and thought into solving this and we’re gonna do work for you. Usually, that involves money changing hands. We’re just talking about timing.” You know. Why not today?
Amy Hooke: Exactly. Yeah. Great. As you said, it’s just about building that confidence, and the confidence comes through having reliable structures in place, and it also comes from … You try it, and you see that it actually goes okay. Just get that bit of encouragement that people will pay upfront, and then be willing to back yourself when the person says, “No. I won’t pay a deposit,” to be willing to walk away from that job.
Matt McFedries: Also, I think, having support around you. You know, being in the coaching business, and coaching bookkeepers, and for us it’s coaching our clients and standing by them each month as they journey through the murky waters of credit control. Having someone to talk to, even if it’s a two minute call or an email to go, “Hey, back me up here!” This is the right call. “Should I follow up? Should I stick to my guns and send a stat demand. Or should I get a 100% deposit?”
Matt McFedries: Big lesson for me, starting businesses is that, you don’t have to go it alone and you shouldn’t. You should have your core crew around you that can pick up where you’re not quite as strong or confident to lead you the confidence in those areas.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. That’s right. So, you’ve got a thing called the ‘Stress Free Cashflow Cycle’. We were talking about, ’cause in the bookkeeping project, which is the project where I’ve opened up my bookkeeping business to allow bookkeepers to actually watch how I’m doing, and I let them copy everything that I’m setting up, so basically …
Amy Hooke: But, the big emphasis that I keep putting on everything is ‘Do business in the right order’. It takes a lot of stress out of things, and so you actually referred to that when you contacted me and talked about how there’s actually an order to do things in when it comes to managing your cashflow and your debtors. Did you want to talk a little bit about that?
Matt McFedries: Yeah. Sure. I think, we’re very much on the same page, in that respect, and I think, after hearing so many war stories where we’re getting customers that are coming to us way too much, sitting in +60 or +90 days. Sure, we can mitigate that pain fairly, fairly quickly, but how do we prevent it from happening again, and some of that is education.
Matt McFedries: The cashflow, or the Stress Free Cashflow Workshop that we started running really deals with six things from the quote to onboarding customers, delivering your work. When I say delivery, it’s more a, do you know when the job is finished? Do you know the job is complete and the customer’s happy? Is it a good delivery? When are you invoicing? What’s the timing of your invoicing, right through to your payment options? Do they work for your customers? Are they appropriate for who you’re serving? Should it be credit card? Should it be bank transfer? And then all the way through to follow up. It’s quite structured.
Matt McFedries: We actually have a worksheet, and we can make that available to your listeners. It’s like a self assessment checklist. We’re quite happy to share with people. You can score yourself across about 35 things you can look at …
Amy Hooke: Wow! That’s great.
Matt McFedries: … and it might just … Let’s just say you just get one or two things out of there that you can improve, then that’s a win, right? Your business is much more robust and stronger than before.
Amy Hooke: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, definitely. So, you can just check the podcast transcript. We’ll pop the links in there. After the podcast is finished, you’ll be able have a look at that questionnaire.
Amy Hooke: I guess, the other thing I wanted to talk about … So, obviously, we’ve talked quite a bit about what it might look like for a bookkeeper becoming more confident in their own business, making sure that they get paid on time and have everything in place for that, but did you want to talk a little bit about how a bookkeeper could use your service in their business to actually provide a value added service for their clients?
Matt McFedries: Sure. On our website, we’ve got details of our partner program. That’s just debtordaddy.com/partner and that shows or sets you through how you could basically use us as a, or we can power a debtor management service for your clients, so it’s something you can offer to your clients but you don’t have to do the calls, the set up and training.
Matt McFedries: You might choose to, and we can give you some of our tools around that, so it could be an extra thing that you’re able to charge for. It gets you your own log in. You can connect your clients, you can monitor their debtor issues. Although, we’ve found with bookkeepers usually they are quite in touch with what’s going on, so, it’s not like you need more monitoring tools or reports.
Amy Hooke: That’s right.
Matt McFedries: How do you solve that? What should the strategy be? Often, with our partners, we jump in on the calls with them and their client, in stepping them through. Certainly, when we’ve got someone that’s serious in trialing our software, we’re often on those calls for no charge, just helping answer the questions and making sure that it’s a fit. Usually, the best one is actually try it for yourself. Try in your own business. Get comfortable with it and then take that step of going, “Okay. How will that work for my clients?” That’s a good way to do it, I think.
Amy Hooke: I think that’s great. A lot of our clients are looking for different ways that they can add additional services into their bookkeeping businesses. Bookkeepers are quite aware, given all of the great new technology that there is, these days, that the bookkeeping industry is becoming … I mean, the barriers to entry in the bookkeeping industry are very low. Anyone can come in and start calling themself a bookkeeper, and start running a bookkeeping business.
Amy Hooke: So, I guess, bookkeepers feel that there’s been a lot of pressure in competition, off shore bookkeepers, all sorts of different things happening in the industry that will make a bookkeeper feel like, “Okay.” The data entry side of bookkeeping is really not a thing anymore. We’ve got Receipt Bank and Hubdoc, and all these different ones coming through, and bookkeepers don’t really do that low end sort of stuff anymore. It’s a very small portion of their job and it’s vastly automated.
Amy Hooke: I know the bookkeepers that I speak to, they’re looking for different ways that they can offer a more comprehensive service. I guess, each person looks within their own skill set or their own set of interests or they’re looking at the specific pain points of the types of business owners that they’re working with. I just found your service really interesting for someone that might want to add in a more comprehensive debt collecting service into their business.
Matt McFedries: It’s an interesting challenge, I think. I can see what’s happening in the market. You’ve got even AIs that are looking, like Botkeeper and Xero with the data entry side of it, but for our business, we’re definitely focusing on the human element.
Matt McFedries: Running a business is lonely for a founder, and a bookkeeper, to me, can be that friendly, knowledgeable person you can check in with. The relationship will trump the software and everything else because you’ve got an ear, and a wise ear that knows what to do. I think, in your own journey as a business, that you’ve got better at quoting, you’ve got better at your own processes, then you’ll be a super hit for so many other businesses out there.
Matt McFedries: I think, even in parting that knowledge, will be a good way for bookkeepers to add value. Becoming more of a holistic view of a business, and a guide to keep processes running efficiently. Data, the right data appearing in the right place at the right time, and then adding those human services around that business supports it.
Matt McFedries: Whether it’s something you do as a bookkeeper, or you plug in other people, then you can ultimately create a … become essential to that business, I would say. You’ve got the trusted relationship, you’re advocating for improvement across the business, plus you’ve got can do services you can plug in, right?
Matt McFedries: I think that’s … That’s what I needed, back in the day, when I was starting. My bookkeeping was terrible. That didn’t help for my debtors, either. You might have whole chunks sitting at +90 days, but it’s like, “Well, how much of that is really due?” There’s all kinds of pain that, putting good foundations in at the beginning of a business, it just pays dividends. I totally believe in the …
Matt McFedries: I’ll be really interested to see where the bookkeeper role evolves and develops. There’s a lot of scary news around job replacement. The positive story is that it’s evolving. You know, with Debtor Daddy, we started with email reminders and the Xero released email reminders. That wasn’t my business, right? We lost a shedload of customers, and that’s cool, We always suspected that we would as a result as people were just plugging the gap in Xero, and that’s cool.
Matt McFedries: The upside was, and this’ll be the same for bookkeeping as the challenge comes, you go back to your customers and you say, “Well, what’s the pain?” And for us, we could see a shedload of money still sitting out there, even after the email reminders had gone out, right. So, email reminders, you’ll get a spike of improvement within the first month, three months, then you’ll start to see it tail off.
Matt McFedries: That’s why we said to our customers, “Well, what would it need to look like for us to call on your behalf?” So, they said, “Well, you need to call as if you worked for us, as part of your brand rather than being this third party.” Doing that means we can call much sooner. We can call at fourteen days overdue or seven days overdue. We do that for some of our customers.
Matt McFedries: It’s customer service, not debt collection. We’re not talking to debtors, we’re talking to customers. Debtors is an accounting term. It’s like, you should probably stay with the accounting piece of business. We’re talking to customers.
Amy Hooke: I love it. I was actually gonna ask you if you do operate … When you sit in there and make those calls, you make the calls as that business as opposed to … You don’t call up and say, “Hey! It’s me from Debtor Daddy, here to collect your debts!” You’re actually calling as a representative of the business that’s engaged your service.
Matt McFedries: Yeah. Exactly. My team definitely have an identity crisis, picking up the phone …
Amy Hooke: Yeah! It’s like, “Who am I! Which company am I?”
Matt McFedries: I guess, they know, she’s still Laura, but she’s Laura from ‘who knows what the business could be’. Actually, one of our really interesting customers was a funeral directors. I was a bit nervous. My team was a bit nervous. But, to me, that was testament to the empathy of our team and be able to handle those kinds of calls where there’s an overdue, or people are paying off their funeral expenses.
Matt McFedries: Navigating those kind of conversations and seeing an incredible turn around for that business, as well as retaining customers. We didn’t step on toes. To me, that’s why we do what we do. Every business needs to get paid, regardless of what industry they’re in. So, how can we speed that up in a way that doesn’t harm the relationship?
Amy Hooke: I love it. That’s actually a great testimony. I guess, a lot of people could put ‘Holistic Human Centered’ on their website, but that story really demonstrates a whole new level of being able to actually implement that in real life. To be able to call someone whose loved one’s passed away and they haven’t been able to pay their bill. To be able to give them that compassionate phone call and ask for their money, that really demonstrates that. Yeah. That’s incredible. I’m impressed.
Amy Hooke: Is there anything else that you wanted to say before you finish up?
Matt McFedries: Just something that comes to mind in terms of … Often we find ourselves, when we’re talking to a potential client, they may have somebody in the business that’s already doing the phone calls and the follow up. It could be the office manager who’s doing it in their spare time, it could end up being the sales team or the account managers that are also tasked with that job.
Matt McFedries: I guess, what I’m seeing, we learn this time and time again, that even if you’ve got someone in the business that, maybe it’s their job for three or four days a week to follow up debtors, we can still see them get to a point where they’re stuck. The customers get familiar with that person. Because they’re inside the business, they’re a bit … There’s office politics that play in, like … There’s often deals being made by the business owner.
Matt McFedries: There’s so many reasons why, even though you’ve got resource there that, in theory, are tasked with debtor follow up, but you still don’t get the results you expect. Whereas, we go alone, not guns blazing, it’s just perhaps a more systemized, slightly separated, less emotional approach where … It just works better, and that’s a challenge for our business, is actually, getting people to understand and trust in this new model of doing it, of actually outsourcing this part of the business.
Matt McFedries: I get why people have their fears about it, but that’s time and time again, we’re seeing the turn around we can achieve. It makes people happier. The people that were doing this job. These past people don’t want to do the job. The office manager really doesn’t want to do the job because they’re so, so busy.
Matt McFedries: I can share a story from TradiePad. Lisa, she’s the legendary office manager that keeps the wheels turning at TradiePad. They engaged us probably a couple of months back. An incredible turn around from what it’s been able to achieve for her and her role, and that story gets shared … I don’t know … My last message just, get it off your plate, focus on your core, get back to what you love. It’s way more energizing and fun.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. It’s great. So, speaking of fun, I just wanted to end on this last question, which is, I really wanna know, who came up with the name, Debtor Daddy? Who’s idea was that?
Matt McFedries: I’m just gonna hang up now! Nah, nah! It took me two weeks, and it was just me and a notebook, just writing things down. My Father is an English teacher, so maybe I’m kind of, I was a sucker for alliteration. I also didn’t want to be that stuffy or … I wanted to challenge the status quo, and I think that’s encapsulated somewhat in our name.
Matt McFedries: We wanted to take a hated task and make it a bit more fun and human, and that’s a work in progress. Yeah, so that’s how that came about but, you know … I’m still not 100% comfortable with it ’cause people look at it and go, “Oh, maybe it’s a bit scary and a bit heavy,” so, any suggestions after this about our new name, then …
Amy Hooke: Yeah. No. I like it. It’s fun, because I remember when I was speaking to our client relationship manager. I was chatting to her about the different guests we’ve got on the podcast this year, and I said, “I’ve been contacted by a guy called Matt McFedries. He’s from Debtor Daddy,” and I remember we were having a bit of a tongue twister.
Amy Hooke: We were having a little bit of a, you know, trying to say it, Debtor Daddy, then I was like, “Did I say it right?” When you say it really fast, you think, “Did I say that right?” But, anyway, I think there’s something out there called Debbie Debit, so my mana … I don’t know what that is. I think it’s different to what you guys do. It’s like a direct debit thing.
Amy Hooke: But when I said, “Matt from Debtor Daddy,” she said, “Is that Debbie Debit?” And I said, “No. Debtor Daddy,” and we were like, “Debbie Debit and Debtor Daddy!” It was so … We were just having a little bit of a chuckle, like maybe those two are going out, or something.
Matt McFedries: Yeah. We get all sorts. Debit Daddy’s a common one. Sometimes, it’s Daddy Debtors and I often just stop correcting people now. I’m like, “Okay. That’ll do. Close enough.”
Amy Hooke: You just call it whatever you like. Yeah. It’s good. I like it. I think it’s good to have, because it does show that there’s a little bit of fun, light hearted side. It’s not too … To me, that doesn’t look like too serious. It says what you do, but there is a little bit of fun to it. You’ve got the hat with the mustache on the logo and stuff like that. I think it’s a good blend and I think the way that you guys have conveyed your message through the website really shows that. You don’t just get results, but you actually care, as well.
Matt McFedries: Yep. For sure. Thank you. That’s good feedback.
Amy Hooke: Yeah. You’re welcome. Anyway, it’s been great having you. Thank you so much for reaching out and being willing to come and speak to our listeners.
Matt McFedries: My pleasure. Stoked to have a chat and some really interesting scope and challenges for bookkeepers, moving forward. Certainly, following this, if anyone wants to reach out and explore how we can work together. We’re still pretty open and I think, we’ve done a bit working with accountants, but if we need to tailor something that works better for bookkeepers, then totally open to exploring that. If people want to have a shot at our calling service, if they mention your podcast or your name, we’ll give you a discount to get you kicked off.
Amy Hooke: Thanks. I love it. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Amy Hooke: Thanks everyone for listening in and we will see you next week at the usual time on the podcast.