By Lauren White, RCS Reporter.
Thea Dudley has honed her skills as a credit and collections officer throughout her 30 years of experience. After spending many years in the corporate world, Thea, also an RCS Influencer, decided it was time to do something different. So she started her own business called Pocket Protectors. Thea speaks with Heidi J. Ellsworth, RoofersCoffeeShop® partner, about her experiences in the credit world and how she helps her customers manage their cash flow.
Growing up, Thea’s father worked as a contractor. She shares, “I’ve always been very empathetic to our customers because I knew the struggles, and they were real. You have to go through contracts and retention and all of the things that go with that. Sometimes you don’t have somebody in your company that understands that and can help guide you through it, and so I’m like your surrogate credit manager.”
Prior to starting her own business, Thea worked with Cameron Ashley Guardian Building Products and then SRS Distribution. Working with these larger companies, she realized she “really connected to the customer and helping them work through some of those cash flow issues.” That’s when she decided it was time to make a change.
After stepping away from corporate, she “...started doing work with contractors and distributors in the industry to improve that back office cash flow situation so that contractors didn’t feel like they were basically holding up the money bag for everyone.”
Her clients are a variety of people from distributors to lumber dealers and from insulation contractors to the National Association of Credit Managers. Thea works hard to have them leverage technology and get their sales and credit departments working together to help with cash flow and “open up a whole other world for your company.”
Thea shares, “No matter what company and at what level, whether it’s a general contractor, subcontractor, dealer, distributor, whatever, wherever you sit on the bus, the problems are all the same. They’re just a different viewpoint.” She enjoys helping her customers update their processes, tools, and thinking, and bring their credit, which might be very behind, to the next level.
Thea explains, “You can teach people how to treat you, so you can teach companies how to treat you.” If customers know they can stretch out their payment a few weeks, they’re going to take advantage of that. Instead, she encourages her clients to make their payment expectations very clear from the beginning.
Thea works hard to help her customers improve their cash flow by updating their processes, getting sales and credit departments to work as one, and training her clients to hold companies accountable to their payments. Her three decades of experience have yielded promising results for distributors, roofing contractors, drywallers, and others in the construction and roofing industry.
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