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End collection problems before they start with the straightforward advice in Ed Halloran's newest book, Credit and Collection Letters Ready to Go! (NTC Business Books, $14.95, 800-323-4900).

Halloran presents dozens of readily adaptable letters (you just fill in the blanks) designed to exact payment from deadbeats. More important, he shares cogent insights on how to avoid such deadbeats in the first place. "Learn as much as possible about the people and businesses to whom you grant credit," he urges, "and walk away from anyone refusing to provide a financial statement, credit bureau report, copies of tax returns, and banking and personal references."

A reporter and former credit investigator, Halloran cautions start-ups in particular: "Don't be humbly grateful to those who provide business to you. Too often, new business owners are so thrilled to get an order, they don't check out [the client]."

Should your courteous yet increasingly firm letters fail to elicit payment, Halloran advises retaining an attorney. "I have no qualms about paying attorneys' fees," he says. "After you've written it off as a bad debt, anything recovered goes to the bottom line. So let an attorney pursue it while you're out generating more business."

Contact Sources

Dental Team Coordinator, P.O. Box 131, Sanger, CA 93657, (209) 875-1985

Valley Small Business Development Corp., (209) 271-9030

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