December 08, 2015

Going Beyond the Numbers to See You Through the Ups & Downs

By Matt McNamara, John Deere Financial

No matter what kind of business or operation you have, you work hard to keep building and growing through the natural cycle of ups and downs.

When the inevitable economic downturn hits, you may have cash-flow challenges. You may have financed equipment to help you get the job done — only to find that the job no longer exists. Or factors outside your control have turned a profitable year into one you'd like to forget. Now, without the incoming revenue you expected, you've found yourself in a situation where making payments on time is a challenge.

It's a frustrating experience. But if you financed your equipment through John Deere Financial, you'll find the same company that was there when you first put the keys in the ignition is there to keep you moving ahead. Matt McNamara, manager of Collections and Recovery at John Deere Financial, and his team use an approach that is uncommon in the collections world.

"We understand customers are going to have highs and lows, and in all markets we serve there are going to be better times and tougher times. It's how we react during those tougher times that sets us apart. It really begins with holding true to our core values of integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation. We focus on what's right for customers and their situation to try to help their operation and subsequently have a better total relationship with us."

Lindsey Ozimek is a member of McNamara's team who previously worked in collections for another company. She's seen the difference John Deere Financial brings to working with customers.

"The John Deere approach is so unique because we take a much more collaborative approach. I develop good relationships with my customers and dealers, and they look forward to hearing from me. I listen to their situations and actually help with their problems, which is what keeps them making their payments and working with John Deere."

Begin with open communication
McNamara points out that his team delivers more value by going beyond the mere transaction of bringing payments current.

"We want to make sure we've explored all opportunities to understand what led customers to not be able to make the payment on time. That may present other opportunities to help them get the payments brought current."

For that to happen, McNamara emphasizes the importance of doing what's right to help customers resolve their situations.

"The biggest thing we stress with our customers is open, honest conversation, even if they're already past due or if they know they're not going to be able to make a payment on time. We encourage them to pick up the phone and talk to us, to tell us what's going on. The more proactive customers can be, the more options we may have to help. We want to make every effort to resolve the situation and help them continue with the contract they’re in."

Seeing the big picture
More often than not, John Deere Financial is able to find a solution that helps all parties win, and there have been many success stories.

"One example involved an Ag customer a few years ago who had both an equipment relationship with us and a crop-input financing relationship," McNamara remembers. "They had really struggled and were on the brink of bankruptcy. We worked with this customer and coordinated with their dealer and the input merchant over a number of years. As a result, we were able to help them work out the situation, the input loans were repaid in full, and the customer has been able to purchase a significant number of new pieces of John Deere equipment since."

Beyond the business itself, McNamara's team takes great pride in knowing they've been able to come through for someone who needs their expertise. "We have customers call in so excited when they're making that last payment and personally thank us, saying, 'Had you not worked with me, I wouldn't be where I am today.'"

It's about relationships that bring success for the long term. "We don't want to just solve for the here and now," McNamara says. "We value the long-term relationships we have with our customers. And we want to make sure that whatever we're doing, we help set them up for as much success as possible in their businesses."