ICSM brings in the heavies for debt recovery

Hannah Jordan
Monday, August 22, 2016

Print industry credit specialist ICSM has partnered with debt collectors DCBL as part of a ramped up debt recovery service for its members.

The business, Debt Collection Bailliffs Limited (DCBL), which featured in Channel 5 series Can't Pay, We'll Take It Away!, uses High Court enforcement officers as one method of 'encouraging' bad debtors to pay up.

According to ICSM chief executive Ian Carrott, the partnership, which was first trialled in April, is getting results in the print industry.

"These guys look like a SWAT team. If there’s been a judgment made against a debtor then they will enforce it. They have helped us to recover funds from some very difficult debtors as well as one German printer who repaid £100,000," he said.  

"We are all guilty of paying first those who are shouting loudest, and the idea is that we use this to shout louder than other creditors. We want our members to be paid first," he added. 

ICSM has always offered a debt recovery service to its members in terms of contract and legal advice, Carrott explained, but the addition of DCBL meant this could now be backed up fully.

"They are our enforcement agents," he said. "This is an evolution of our existing service I suppose, because the needs of our customers have changed.

"Our clients have been frustrated at their limited ability to pursue debtors and what they can and can’t do. It can become very personal when a debt goes bad and we’ve been asked many times 'to send in the boys'. Now by using a service like DCBL we can actually do that in a professional and productive way."

Carrott said that a typical print business using the service would likely be an SME with five to 20 staff and around £2m turnover.

"Profit margins are tiny these days and these printers are the ones who are hardest pressed," he added. "They take on work oftentimes without examining the customer properly first, they then get their fingers burned and they need someone that knows their industry to work on their behalf to try to get the money back." 

According to Carrott, there are three types of debtor: rogue, unlucky businessman and bad businessman. "They all have the same effect on the wallet," he said. "Unfortunately I think it is getting worse and dare I say debtors are getting cleverer. 

"I think there is an element of people playing on the desperation of some printers for work. Most are of course honest and decent, but there are some bad guys that are professional debtors and a business only needs to be caught once for it to be fatal," Carrott said.  

Printers needed to properly credit check clients before signing them he said, a service that ICSM offers to its members as well as advice on the best protocols for credit checking, invoicing and legal steps if payment is not happening. The company calculates membership fees according to client base and projected annual usage of the service. Minimum fee is £195. 

"The main point is that if you have the right business practices in place, such as the correct terms and conditions and the right protocols when giving credit, then you run a lower risk of having to fork out," Carrott added.  

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