Over 18 years in credit control in the property industry, and I’ve never seen anything like this quarter. Press coverage of the significantly lower sums collected by some of the country’s largest commercial landlords tells the story of the extent of the difficulties currently faced by occupiers. So, two days after the Quarter Day, what are my reflections so far?
Teamwork is everything
Firstly, there’s the immense pride at the commitment and teamwork shown by all my credit control team in the last few weeks. Despite all of them working remotely this week, and communicating with occupiers, property managers and clients in a similar situation, the effort and flow of information has been greater than ever.
As a team we worked even harder than usual to prepare for this Quarter. We typically speak to tenants pre quarter to ensure payment is on the way but this time, conversations were dominated by requests for deferred or monthly payments. The collaboration between us, our other accounting departments – cashiers in particular and property managers has worked really well despite the obvious challenges.
Focus on what you can do
Secondly, ‘collect the collectables’. We’ve been inundated with requests for monthly payments and other rental concessions, often multiple requests from the same occupier. In the current circumstances, the majority of clients are taking a pragmatic approach to these, where most of those requests are from occupiers who can’t even trade. Consequently, we have re-doubled our efforts to focus on the remaining sums that can be paid and ensure that any proposed part payments have arrived.
It’s all about communication
The typical Glaswegian credit controller has a fearsome reputation. Rightly so!! But we are living in different times. From discussions I’ve had with clients in recent days, their approach is different as we all recognise the environment we are operating in. This has been reflected in our team’s tone when dealing with occupiers – to highlight what’s due but recognising we want all our occupiers to continue trading once the crises passes.
With significant sums still unpaid, there’s still much to be done, but we continue to work with occupiers, property management colleagues and clients to get through this.
MICHELLE MOLYNEUX, Director of Credit Control – Property Management Accounts