The case for continued communication with consumers

As with any major crisis, some industries get crushed and some do well. Depending on what you consult on, manufacture or supply will somewhat dictate how your industry will weather any crisis. As we have seen with the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have been designated essential and many have had to shut their doors which has created a crisis of its own for many across the country. For many industries, this has caused damage to their operation that will take a long time to overcome.

Take a lawncare company for example. Many had already been working hard to fire up operations for the season. Conducting spring cleanups and getting yards ready for a long enjoyable season. Then in very short order, services such as these were forced to shut down and not service customers. And revenue for many, came to an abrupt halt. You cannot work and you cannot bill for anything. That is a hardship in itself. A business without current or predicable future revenue, is not sustainable for very long as well all know. Continue reading “The case for continued communication with consumers”

Your cash flow is essential right now

By Peggy:

It goes without saying that life has changed dramatically in the past five months.  COVID19 has evolved from “that outbreak overseas” to a health crisis here in U.S.  We’ve seen the progression of social distancing, school closings and state-wide lockdowns.  As a result, businesses have been divided into two basic categories—essential and non-essential.

Essential businesses, like pharmacies & grocery stores, are staying open. Non-essential businesses like lawn & garden services are expected to close until further notice. It’s hard to argue with the logic.  People need to get medications, food and supplies. People don’t need green, manicured lawns. But to say a business is non-essential is misleading.  Businesses supply more than the services they offer. They provide income for the owners & jobs to their employees.  In other words, these services ARE essential to those that provide them. Most business owners are willing to do their part  by staying shut down per executive order, but they need to be able to come out of this and get back to work when COVID19 is no longer a threat to public health. Continue reading “Your cash flow is essential right now”

Tips for making internal debt collection calls

There are some parts of running a business that many of us just don’t like to do. Depending on the size and nature of your business or industry, you and your team will have your hands in many aspects of running the day to day operations. Aside from everything else on your plate, there will be items that come up that require your attention and that fall under the category of mission critical. One of those is collecting on overdue payments to your organization.

While our professional debt collectors do enjoy their jobs, we understand that for many of you, collection calls are not something you like to do. You’d rather be doing other things to grow and run your business. But part of being in business is chasing down payments sometimes and you’ll have to understand that this is just part of keeping your business cash flow positive. Contacting customers about late payments can mean the difference between positive and negative cash flow. Continue reading “Tips for making internal debt collection calls”

The dangers of waiting too long to collect

We have the opportunity to speak with all kinds of businesses and potential clients when we are out and about. When we represent American Profit Recovery at trade shows and other exhibitions, we are speaking with entrepreneurs and others all day long. We love hearing about how business is going and how they’ve grown their organizations.

Some of these professionals have everything in order with their accounts receivables and have the systems to get paid. And some even have a collection agency they use for difficult accounts. A smart move.

But some we chat with could be doing far better in the area of basic accounting and getting paid for what they do.

Our team recently encountered a small business that had, to say the least, some cash flow issues. It was a small professional services firm that was run by one person and that professional was focused, almost entirely on just servicing clients. He was doing well by his clients and was very busy with his practice. But he had one major flaw. Continue reading “The dangers of waiting too long to collect”

A friendly voice behind every phone

I get to listen to many collection calls as part of our continued pledge to compliance and excellence.  In the old days most company’s customer service calls or incoming calls were always treated with happy, friendly voices trying to help. 

Well, I am happy to say that it is still the old days here as we continue to lead by example to other companies with our Customer Service and Admin teams and more importantly, our collection calls.

I am so proud of how far our industry has come in turning what were once unpleasant, sometimes demanding, and uncompromising collection calls into more of “customer service” calls truly trying to help consumers “resolve” collection matters and not just collect money.   I am happy to say that, after listening to many collection calls, I feel that American Profit Recovery leads by example in this area.

Calls from a collection agency are never easy or comfortable for consumers to deal with.  Consumers may be dealing with personal issues that are not allowing them to meet their financial obligations or they may be dealing with a disputed bill and many times are not sure what to do or where to turn.  However, many times consumers do want to resolve their legitimate debts and just need a helpful voice to assist them in finding a way to do that.

I would like to thank all of our collectors for not only being committed to the Collectors Pledge, but for living that commitment day in and day out.  They are truly making a difference to not only the collection industry, but for every consumer they help each day.  Hearing things like “thanks for calling, I’m glad we could help, we are committed to helping you, we will help you find a way” from our collectors and then seeing the overwhelming number of compliments from consumers that we helped out is a testament to the good this industry performs every day.

The Collectors Pledge

I believe every person has worth as an individual.

I believe every person should be treated with dignity and respect.

I will make it my responsibility to help consumers find ways to pay their debts.I will be professional and ethical.

I will commit to honoring this pledge.

Collecting and Customer Service-One In The Same

By Ashley:

Recently, a couple of my teammates and I got to sit with different collectors to see how they work. Now, if you are like me, you would think a collector, who is trying to get a consumer to pay, is going to approach their job very differently than someone who is in customer service, like myself. What my teammates and I learned is that we’d all be wrong.

When my teammates and I discussed our separate experiences when sitting with collectors the general consensus was our collectors use the same approach to collecting that we use in customer service. Our collectors are doing everything they can to help these consumers pay. Now I am not going to lie to you and say their end goal isn’t a payment because it is, but what I am trying to say is the way that goal is approached, is with compassion and respect.

Continue reading “Collecting and Customer Service-One In The Same”

What can you learn at a conference? A lot!

I took time out to attend the Kentucky Bankers Association annual convention at the French Lick Resort in French Lick, IN.  What a great group of people!  There has been some great material covered and it is good to hear the concerns that are going on within the industry.  Here are some brief overviews of what I heard at the event:

The Economy:  Getting better…… nice!  Still not there yet, but the trends are definitely starting to look up and people are starting to buy again.  Houses, cars, etc.

Mergers and acquisitions:  We got a nice overview of the happenings going on and the mergers and acquisitions will continue….. some good, some not so much.  Let’s hope we do not lose the all important local community banks to the large national giants.

Legislation:  This is always a hot topic and the banks are constantly under fire with new laws and regulations.  To add to this conversation was the subject of compliance.  This is a VERY hot topic and was discussed thoroughly with some good Q & A.  Compliance officers seem to be increasingly more difficult to come by and costing more and more, but the liability to the banks is also continuing to increase.  As well as the liability to the board members.  We, as a 3rd party collection agency for banks, understand this all too well. The general consensus is that the CFPB needs to also consider the liability and responsibility of the consumers that are out there not paying rightful bills.  Let’s just not help people get out of paying their rightful obligations and keep in mind all of the good businesses out there that provide incredible goods and services and deserve to be paid for them.

Golf:  If you can call it that?!?!?!  We had a great team of awesome folks.  My shout out to George and Donna Wise, and Thurmann Senn.  We had a great time and they were great people.  Donna (Coach) has coached college girls basketball for over 30 years and is in the AAIA Hall of Fame!  Awesome stuff.  We may not have been the best on the course, but that is not at all what it was all about.  Great to meet you three and I really enjoyed our time together on Sunday!

Networking:  This is the best part of any convention.  I have the privilege to attend a number of these events and the best part for me is meeting some truly wonderful people.  The members and vendors that are involved in this association are great people.  I thank all of you for your conversations and the stories that you share and allowing me to get to know you a bit.  I look forward to talking with you in the future and I am looking forward to helping many of you in your banks!  Also, this is a great opportunity to see some of our clients.  I appreciate you stopping by and saying “hi” and the feedback about our service.  It is nice to hear that we are having a positive impact in your banks and very nice to hear how well our staff is taking care of you.  From answering the phone to our customer service team, the positive comments were much appreciated.

All in all, this was a great event and I am glad I had the opportunity to be here and share in the convention.  I look forward to many more in the years to come and we appreciate our relationship with the Kentucky Bankers Association as an endorsed vendor!

 

What Type Of Training Do Debt Collectors Go Through?

A question that is frequently asked is “What type of training do collectors go through?”

A reputable collection agency will have a training program that covers a wide range of issues, knowledge and skills that are required and will continually reinforce that training. Below are some of the subjects covered in the training of debt collectors.

Personal Skills
Most reputable agencies hire people who can communicate well and then train them even further. The goal of an agency is to get payments secured for a client, so a collector needs to have superior skills in communicating with others. Debt resolutions come from a respectable dialogue and communication with consumers.

Regular Meetings
A collection agency with a good reputation will also hold regular meetings and trainings to review the quality of calls made to consumers. They will also use this time to review best practices in the industry, maximize the effectiveness of their communications and limit potential complaints made from those calls.

Local, State and Federal Laws
Since laws can change frequently training sessions on local, state and federal laws should be held on a regular basis to ensure compliance with these regulations. At American Profit Recovery there are meetings at least monthly and we incorporate other issues such as compliance with these laws as well as possible new laws and regulations that are being proposed.

Economic Impact
One thing that sets apart the good from the great are trainings about the impact our industry has on the economy. At APR we make it a point to reinforce just how important our efforts are to our clients as well as to the economy.

Billions of dollars each year are put back into businesses and the economy by the collection industry, and it’s important for those trying to collect payments to understand the importance of their work. Quality training makes any business better and makes them different from others.

Hear what our own Matt Moskowitz has to say about reputable collectors in the video below:

Responsible Debt Collections

The other day, I was reading a collection article about how another collection agency came out with a “Consumers Bill of Rights”. I have to say after reading their Bill of Rights, I wasn’t very impressed. First of all the document was 5 pages and could have been summarized much better.

In short, their consumer bill of rights states what to expect if you deal with that collection agency.:

  • If we buy a debt, we will tell you that we own it.
  • If we will contact you, we will try and resolve the debt quickly and honestly.
  • If we can’t sue you then we will not attempt to collect from you, ei, you’re in bankruptcy.
  • If we collect from you and you default on a payment plan, the plan may be invalid and we will l pursue other collection routes.
  • We will safeguard all consumer information.
  • If we can’t resolve the debt, we will tell you that were going to use litigation.

I’m curious if anyone else notices what they missed in their Consumer Bill of Rights? They completely ignored what the Consumers’ rights are!. Like how the consumer has the right to requested a cease to all communication, or the right to dispute the debt. I have been working as Collection Specialist at American Profit Recovery for over four years and can count on one hand how days I have gone without getting a Consumer request for validation or dispute. Consumers have this right when it comes to dealing with debt collectors, that the debt we claim is owed be validated. Telling a Consumer what their actual rights are empowers the Consumer to resolve their debts quickly and diplomatically.

Shortly, after I read the article I realized that APRs’ internally policies are designed to honor Consumer rights better than this agency’s so called ‘Consumer Bill of Rights’. I want to let our clients and their customers know that we agree, Consumers have rights and these rights will be honored.  Here at APR, we take Consumer rights seriously. From the first day I started I was trained as to what Consumer Rights are. Only after I could fully understand and appreciate what  Consumer Rights were did I take The ACA Collector’s Pledge. This pledge, I honor every day I come to work at APR. I believed APR owes it to both our clients and our Consumers to write a document expressing both what a Consumer should expect when they deal with APR as well as what rights have.