Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Collection Agency Whiteboard

I was recording a radio interview on Friday with the trustee Doug Hoyes, and we spent some time talking about how our business models work.  One of the topics we ended up talking about was revenue KPIs, and I touched on the collection agency whiteboard.

Almost every agency has one -- it's a big board at the front of the office or call centre, that allows collectors to track their revenue for the day, or the month-to-date.  On the surface, it's a great idea because it's a gamification of revenue generation, and it can possibly be a motivational tool -- "look, Bob just put $800 on the board!  Look, Alice has hit her monthly target, and there are 7 business days to go!".  Unfortunately, many agencies don't use it properly, and it causes more problems than it solves.

Let's face it, collection agencies mostly measure success or failure based on revenue generated -- but the success of an individual collection agent is more than just gross revenue, and there are a lot of other factors that play into an individual's success -- the volume and quality of delinquent paper listed by a client, the target liquidation of said paper, to start.  It's also dependent on other employee's efforts -- what if manual data entry of new business or payments is behind?  What if documentation isn't being requested from the client by the customer service team?  What if the IT department doesn't import the direct list in a timely fashion?

Outside of revenue, it's also about what the staff members do above and beyond revenue generation -- are they team players who help everyone around them?  Do they garner positive Google business reviews?  Do they have positive relationships with clients?  Are they part of a positive work environment and bolster team morale?  That's not necessarily something that can be measured by a whiteboard.

If a whiteboard is the central measurement of success, and too much focus is placed on it, it may foster an 'everybody for themselves' attitude, or reinforce an elitist attitude by superstar collectors that far exceed everyone else.  It can beat down staff who aren't meeting targets, and work in a high-turnover environment to crush office morale.  If it's used in conjunction with prizes, giveaways, or other incentives, it may encourage inaccurate notelines or transferring of files away from other co-workers.  In other words, it may reduce the company spirit to a free-for-all over numbers.

If you work in an agency and use a white board, and use it sparingly, or with moderation in conjunction with other tools, that's awesome.  If you work with team leaders or management that understand that everyone on the team is a human being working in a big environment with many variables, then it can be used as a KPI rather than a bludgeoning tool.

Our office doesn't have a whiteboard, per se, but every collector has the ability to pull the daily or monthly revenue statistics at a push of a button from their collection software screen, like their own personal little whiteboard.  Sometimes we will email out a snapshot of the day or month or performance on a specific client to our multiple branches and discuss where we sit versus expectations.  At the end of each business day, we do generate a formal company report to measure and share revenue, profitability, manpower or equivalent FTE assigned to each client, and factored revenue per FTE per client, and that report is shared with everyone in the company.  But it's just one tool out of many, and only one set of KPI results.  We try to not make it invasive, demeaning or an absolute measurement of how we value our team members.

If you have anything to share about your experiences with a whiteboard in your agency, I'd be interested to hear about them.  If you want to talk about ways to make it a positive tool that enables team members, I'm always willing to exchange ideas and thoughts.

Thanks kindly!

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
KINGSTON Data & Credit
Cambridge, Ontario

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