So, here we are at the national Anytime Fitness conference for 2014 in Scottsdale Arizona, and the trade show hall opens in a few hours. Setting up our booth, I’ve been asked twice what I do, and when I answered that we are a collection agency, I get the goggle eyes. I know, I know – it’s because we don’t look like your traditional collection agency. But here are the thoughts that typically run through a fitness club owners’ heads …
Wow, You Don’t Look Like Knuckle Dragging Goons
That’s right, we don’t. Meaghan, our Outreach Manager Is 5’2”, and I’m an animated middle-aged man who would look more like a tech support manager than a collection agency COO. But what do physical perceptions have to do with the role? Remember, our business is primarily based over the phone, and uses the credit bureau and court system. The days of a large goon knocking on your door to collect are long gone, and the successful agency owner understands human behavior, contract obligations, and technical tools, not intimidation and aggression.
So, as we talk to folks, we explain this is the way we should look – if we looked or sounded ‘goonish’, then that’s a sign we haven’t kept up with the times, and what we say is more important than how we look.
Hey, If You Aren’t Knuckle Dragging Goons, How Do I Know You Can Do The Job?
Again, we have to battle perceptions, but the other way. While no fitness club owner wants to do business with a goon, in the back of their mind because they expect that stereotype, they are slightly disappointed an apprehensive when the people they meet are pleasant and affable.
So our job this week isn’t just to defeat the image of the stereotypical collection agency, it’s to prove that by setting a different image and tone, we know what we are doing and that we are very capable – Meaghan is incredibly experienced with the US collection laws and manages collections for hundreds of clients, and I’ve been in credit and collections for 25 years. But we can only pass on what we know if we get past the initial physical impression of how we look.
You’ve Been Really Pleasant – Are You Sure You Run A Collection Agency?
I know, we’re sorry we’ve been entertaining and pleasant. But just because we aren’t abrasive doesn’t mean we don’t know how to motivate customers to get caught up on their past due accounts. In fact, it works better. There are other collection agencies that serve the fitness industry, and if you google them, you get Better Business Bureau complaints, Ripoff Reports, and social media posts from consumers explaining they have been mistreated. If you Google Kingston Data and Credit, you get educational articles, client endorsements, and social media pages that consumers can post to. So, what’s more important – looking intimidating, or understanding how the consumer of the 21st century thinks and acts, and applying that to recovering outstanding accounts?
We’re incredibly pleased to be at the Anytime Fitness 2014 conference, and happy to finally put a face to names and voices we’ve been dealing with. Hopefully the culture shock of meeting us in person isn’t insurmountable. If you are at the conference, feel free to drop by booth #7 and say hello.
KINGSTON Data and Credit