For my upcoming summer vacation, my family and I are going back to my hometown to visit some family and see some sights. In planning the trip, I’m reminded of when I started my career there over 20 years ago. A career that has taken me from New York to California, and ultimately Michigan. A whole lot has changed in my life over the span of my career, and a lot has changed about the Collection Industry as well.
It still astonishes me that we were able to be efficient at our jobs back then without the internet. In fact, I remember a time when the office had only one computer, and that was a big deal! Technology aside, I think the greatest changes have come from our industry’s willingness to adapt with the times. The collection industry had evolved into being more consumer-focused, and it has only made it a better profession. Continue reading “We listen-plain and simple”
It’s that time of year! We’re almost to the start of the upcoming pro football season! So, I am watching every report from my team’s training camp, paying close attention to all the roster moves, and pretending that it doesn’t bother me that the experts think my team is going to be pretty bad this year. Anyway, I’ve also been watching all the behind-the scenes shows about mine and other team’s training camps, and interestingly enough I’m seeing a lot of similarities in the way these teams operate compared to how we work here at American Profit Recovery. Many of these teams talk about the “culture” of their team, and so much of that seems to include our core values – Positive Attitude/Integrity/Work Ethic.
Positive Attitude in football is about not letting a bad play get you to give up or abandon your game plan. For us, positive attitude is about focusing on how we can help a consumer find ways to pay their just debts, and not on how we cannot.
Integrity in football is about studying your playbook, watching film, and making sure you are fully prepared to do your job on game day. For a reputable debt collector, it includes putting a priority on compliance, taking the time to understand what type of assistance a consumer needs to in order to resolve their debt, and working in the best interests of the consumer, our clients, our co-workers, and our industry.
Work Ethic in football is all about practicing like you play. Putting in time in the weight room, and playing a full 60 minutes every game. For our collectors, it is all about paying attention to details, making yourself available to speak to consumers after normal business hours, and getting as much productivity out of yourself during a work day.
It’s no surprise to see that the players who commit themselves to their team’s culture and core values are the ones who see the most playing time. Not surprisingly, they are also the players their teams depends upon the most. The same rings true at American Profit Recovery. The collectors who commit themselves to doing all the things necessary to be the best they can be are our leaders. Not just in dollars collected, but in maintaining our high standards of compliance, customer service, and teamwork. It is yet another example of the successful culture we have created here at American Profit Recovery, and why I’m so proud to be a part of THIS team.
Success in any endeavor comes from paying attention to the details. Collections is no different. Collectors who do all the small things right are the ones who enjoy the most success. These small things are part of the countless decisions that collectors make on a daily basis. Sometimes, a decision as simple as when (and when not) to make a call can be the difference between collecting the account or not.
My best recommendation to our clients, in order to help achieve the best possible recovery, is to provide as much detailed information as possible when placing an account in collections. Knowing if a consumer named “Robert” goes by “Bob” or “Rob” can make all the difference in being able to get that consumer on the phone.
Often times, even the smallest piece of information can make the biggest impact on whether or not an account is collected. Consumers do not always remember the details of a particular debt, and being able to provide them with a small detail may help jog their memory on a collection call. For example, let’s say that a consumer questions why a medical bill is owed when they have insurance. If a client has provided us with the fact that the past-due amount is the consumer’s co-payment, we can possibly avoid a dispute situation and talk instead about how to resolve the debt.
You can imagine that no consumer wants to admit they have knowingly avoided paying a debt when they are called by a debt collector. Therefore, their initial response to us will often be a lack of awareness about the bill. If we can address that issue head-on with a small piece of information, we can focus on doing what we do best. That is, helping consumers find a way to pay their just debt.
My family and I just returned from our long-awaited Disney vacation, and had as great a time as we had hoped for. My eight year old was star-struck by all the famous characters she met, the food was spectacular, and the rides were amazing.
Of all the things we enjoyed, what impressed me the most were the people who work there. I knew going in that Disney was famous for their customer service, and the way the spread their “magic.” It sounds so simple, but the smallest gestures really do help add to your enjoyment. I experienced numerous examples of this, and all of them made us feel welcome. We truly felt like we were special guests. I loved seeing the thrill my daughter experienced every time one of the Disney princesses called her by name.
It made me think about, and really appreciate, the approach that American Profit Recovery takes to collecting debts from consumers. It costs nothing to treat people with respect and kindness, and yet it seems that in our society it is a rarity. You can imagine that a consumer that is struggling to make ends meet is already anxiety-ridden over a collection call, and if the simple act of speaking kindly to them helps ease their fears, then it is totally worth the effort. Aside from the fact that it is simply the right thing to do. Think of the feeling that person has when they are called “Sir” or Ma’am.” They are expecting to be talked down to, but instead the American Profit Recovery collector treats them with respect and empathy.
Imagine the relief they must feel when one of our collectors lets them know that we can help, that we understand that they cannot afford to pay the debt in full, and then is thanked for resolving the debt with us. Imagine how much that must make them appreciate our client for using an agency that thinks to treat people in such a way. I believe that will definitely make them more likely to continue to do business with our client. Furthermore, imagine how a client feels when one of their customers compliments the collection agency they use.
A collection agency is about as different from a resort/theme park as you can get, but there is no reason at all why debt collectors cannot treat consumers as though they are special. How much better would the reputation of the collection industry be if other agencies took the time to spread a little APR magic?
One of the best perks of my job is hiring and training new debt collectors. I love talking to candidates about American Profit Recovery, and the people I work with at this collection agency. I love explaining how enthusiastic I am about what I do for a living, and how much fulfillment I get out of my career. I love to show them how what we do not only benefits our client’s bottom line, but also helps consumers fulfill their financial obligation in a way that ensures that they can still do business with that client. I think it’s a tremendous compliment to the company, as well as the debt collection industry, when someone is enthusiastic about joining our team.
It’s a great thing to help change the perception that candidates have about what a debt collector is, and I like to think that the perception of what a debt collector is changes for each consumer we speak with.
I believe consumers quickly discover that our collectors are professional, helpful, compassionate, and friendly people. I think about the relief that a consumer must feel after they have worked out a resolution to their debt. There is the obvious relief of having fulfilled their financial obligation of course, but more importantly there is the relief that they were treated with dignity and respect by a professional who was able to understand their situation and help them. These are some of the things I think about as I interview candidates.
This career is about more than just collecting debt. This career is about helping people, and I love that I get to do that, and recruit others to do the same…
Recently, I accompanied our team members Ethan and Jonathan to the MACA’s Annual Collector’s Education Seminar. Not surprisingly, the presentation was yet another reinforcement to me as to how American Profit Recovery is a leader in the collection industry. The policy and procedure recommendations that the attorney made for us to “take back” to our employers are already long-standing Policy here at American Profit Recovery.
It makes me proud to know that my company has made such a strong and dedicated commitment to legal compliance. It is great to work for such a forward-thinking company, and to know that the progressive approach we take to legal compliance is done not just because it’s a means to avoid lawsuits, but because it’s simply the right thing to do. It benefits our employees, the companies that we represent, as well as the consumers that we are collecting from.
The debt collection industry is responsible for recovering $45 Billion dollars a year, and saves consumers an average of $385.00 a year per household. Our industry is vital to a healthy economy.
Personally, I feel as though regulation in the collection industry is something that should not be feared, but embraced. Regulation is something that obviously (and rightfully) benefits consumers, but it also benefits companies like ours who place a high priority on legal compliance. It can only help to improve the reputation of our industry, as well as prevent companies from becoming competitively disadvantaged by those agencies that do not practice honorable and compliant debt collections.
I’m looking forward to attending again next year, and hope to bring more collectors to this great event.
Last year I had the opportunity to see a former US Navy SEAL speak at the ACA Convention in Boston. It didn’t take long to see why once these men have concluded their military service they are sought out by businesses to help motivate and train their management staffs. Since then, I’ve read a few books written by some other SEALS. Their stories of combat and heroism are incredible, and you cannot overstate how extraordinary these men are. The mental and physical toll that SEAL training takes on a SEAL candidate weeds out all but the most qualified of people, and those that succeed willingly enter into a life of non-stop sacrifice and training.
I really became fascinated by how the SEALs are trained, and the business-like way that they conduct operations. They are methodical in their planning and execution of any training exercise and/or combat operation they undertake. What amazes me most, though, is how much of what they teach their officers and team leaders can be applied to business and how to manage people. (Some SEALs even joke about how they didn’t expect that they would have to learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation) Continue reading “Business Lessons From A Navy SEAL”
In preparation for my holiday vacation, I borrowed some books from Matt. So, on Sunday, after my 16th annual Buffalo Bills-being-all-but-mathematically-eliminated-from-the-NFL playoffs viewing, I started and finished the first one. It was “Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results,” and it tells the story of how a routine, seemingly dead-end-job of a department at a bank completely changed the culture of their workplace by emulating (of all things) a fish market.
The book details how the manager of this bank’s department, desperate to change her team’s culture and reputation, studied how Seattle’s world famous Pike Place Fish Market chose to become not only a great place to work, but a great experience for all of their customers anytime they are there. You can imagine that working in a cool and rainy climate like Seattle, coupled with the handling fish could easily become a tiresome, dreary job. However, the people at Pike Place CHOOSE to make it a fun and energetic place to work. They recognized that everyone has the power to choose what attitude they want to bring into the workplace, and those who are unhappy or bored in their jobs have chosen to be so. They also understand that a vital element of enjoying any job is to make it fun for themselves and for those that they interact with.
The goal they have with every customer they see is to “Make Their Day.” By coincidence, I actually got to hear a speaker at this year’s ACA Convention who was affiliated with the Pike Place Fish Market, and he illustrated this very point by saying that they treat every customer as though they are a celebrity. They do this by “Being Present”, and totally engaged with their customers. When you think about how often we multi task when speaking to co-workers, clients, and consumers (or even at home with our loved ones), can you imagine if you actually met your favorite celebrity and in the midst of conversing with them, checked your text messages or voicemail?
hink of how annoyed you’d be, or have been, if the salesperson you are buying something from took a personal call in the middle of a transaction. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in creating more fun and positive energy into their lives at work and home, as well as anyone looking to improve the way that they communicate to their customers. Not to mention, I know someone who’d be willing to let you borrow his copy… Thanks Matt for such a great recommendation!
I just wanted to make a point of inviting everyone to join us at our annual Making Strides walk on October 11th in Howell, MI. If I’m not mistaken, it will be our 7th year participating in this event. It’s always a great chance to get outside and spend some time with your co-workers and friends. Personally, I feel like it’s a chance to honor the memory of my grandmother who passed away from breast cancer in 1985. The money raised from this event goes towards finding new and better ways to treat and cure this disease, and I have no doubt that the advances made in both treating and preventing this disease have improved greatly in the last 29 years.
I can only wonder what her prognosis would be like had we known then what we know now about how to treat breast cancer. The efforts made by those who raise money and awareness are helping to ensure that others who are diagnosed with breast cancer can persevere and become survivors. I’m so proud that our company has associated itself with this cause, and I hope we have our biggest participation yet! Thanks to all who have already registered with us.
If you have not yet registered, please join us by clicking on our Team page:
Recently my family and I visited Niagara Falls for a quick weekend vacation. Being a Buffalo native growing up so close to the falls, I always took for granted what an amazing feat of nature they really are.
I always knew that people have harnessed Niagara Falls to provide electricity, but never knew that those efforts are also helping to preserve the falls. Left alone, the falls would erode at a rate of 10 feet per year. Because people have been diverting much of the Niagara River that would eventually reach the summit, the erosion rate is now only about 1 foot per year. In fact, they estimate that for much of the year, only 50% of the Niagara River actually reaches the summit of Niagara Falls. The rest is diverted for electrical power generation.
This got me thinking about the nature of our business. If creditors knew the advantage of being proactive (like those that harness the power of Niagara Falls), and outsourced their past-due receivables shortly after delinquency, they would not waste any revenue that would otherwise be lost by having those debts simply sit there on their balance sheet.
By identifying and diverting those slow-pay and delinquent accounts to an agency sooner rather than later, they would be left with a much more manageable and current Accounts Receivable balance sheet, and would thus be able to focus their attention on the more recent, and more collectible accounts.
Therefore, they would eventually limit the number of accounts that they would have to outsource to an agency, much the same way that the Niagara power plants limit the natural erosion of the falls.
To stare at the falls you cannot help but be awed by the power of nature, and yet, people have been able to maintain some measure of control. I hope any creditors with a lot of past due accounts avoid being intimidated or overwhelmed by the numbers, and take the initiative to get control back by utilizing an agency like American Profit Recovery.
Not only will we help collect the past due revenue, but we will do it diplomatically and maintain that relationship they have established with the consumer. Just like the Niagara powers plants conserve the beauty of the falls for generations to come.