If a potential customer is trying to open a line of credit with your company, get financing or something else in which the health of his credit matters, a company credit reference will help you determine if he is a good risk. You can get a company credit reference from companies with which your potential customer has a credit line in good standing.
Obtain permission from your potential customer to ask for the company credit reference from the third-party company. A simple form including a few reference fields that your customer can fill out should work. Also, state on the form that the signee agrees to allow you to ask for a company credit reference on his behalf. Make sure he signs the form before proceeding. Choose a third-party company that your potential client has had an account with for at least a year. Speak to your potential customer about which company to use.
Create a credit request form to send to the company your potential customer has named. It should include your potential client’s signature, allowing you to obtain the credit reference. This is often combined with the permission form so that the third-party business knows that your potential customer gave his permission. The form should also include your own company name and contact information in addition to the company that you’re obtaining the reference from. Create a section for the third-party company to provide information about your potential client.
Ask important questions. In the section outlined for the third-party company to provide information, ask how long ago your potential client opened an account with the company, what size the account was monetarily, how often payments are required, whether your potential client has paid on time, how often your potential client has been late with payments, and how the third-party company would rate your potential client as a credit risk on a scale from 1 to 10.
Write down your personal notes. After the third-party company has returned the form, write down personal notes from the third-party company about your potential client. You can then transform these notes into a written company credit reference letter. Not only will this letter provide you with an overview of your client's past credit (as confirmed by the reporting agency), but it will also provide you with a detailed account of why you are or are not able to extend credit to the individual. See the Resources for a sample copy of a company credit reference letter.
Fax the credit reference letter to the reporting agency for final verification as soon as possible. Once you receive the letter back, immediately send a copy to the person in charge of your potential client’s account. Then call the company to let them know you’re faxing a credit reference request and thank them for their attention to the matter.