Many of the vendors who want to gain or keep your business can become valuable information sources for you. Here’s how you can capitalize on these opportunities.
Relationships: Types and Phases
- Sales reps and their managers
- After-sale support managers and technicians
- Managers, executives, marketers and other administrative types
- Repair and maintenance workers
- Technician service calls. When the computer guys show up to do an installation, fix a problem or run a new network cable, break away from your desk and watch them. Ask about what they’re doing. Ask related questions about computers or broadband access or software recommendations. Try not to appear as hovering over the repair or checking up on the tech. Use your charm; crack a joke and listen carefully. You’ll learn more than you might guess.
- Lunch with the banker. Invite your banker to lunch. (You ought to do this at least once a quarter anyway.) Ask about banking services. Show an interest in the banking industry. Ask about how to run a bank, how banks make a profit or what kinds of new services have become available. People like talking about what they know. You’ll learn what bankers are looking for and thereby you’ll become a more effective negotiator when you need financing or cash-management services.
- Meeting with the accountant. Most accountants—generally at the partner/owner level—love to instruct their clients about bookkeeping and financial management. At the same time, many accountants find it challenging to understand some of the unique accounting requirements associated with medical revenue cycle management. You should meet with your accountant at least quarterly anyway, so take the opportunity to make sure you clearly understand the accounting principles that lie behind those statements. In return, you can help the accountant understand medical billing a little better.
- Collection agency representative visits. If you have a good collection agency, you’ll see an account rep periodically. Professional collectors know a great deal about collection strategies and regulations about making demands. You can learn principles that you can apply in your own billing department, potentially improving your in-house collection rates.
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