Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, January 15, 2021

Secrets in Collections III - It's Not Rocket Science


On the subject of secrets, one thing our industry is bad for, is telling our clients, and the business community at large how we operate.  We used to live in a world 30 years ago of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ about collections to our clients, because collectors, well … they weren’t exactly shining examples of professionalism.  There was yelling and banging of phones, and all sorts of things we have thankfully left behind in the past.

ut that attitude of secrecy still remains – “we can’t tell the client how we collect the money, they might do it themselves”.

It’s nonsense.
  What we do isn’t rocket science.  Any client should be able to hear a collection call on one of their files – either by seeing the staff live in action (when Covid is done) or listening to a call recording.  We contact consumers and businesses, advise them of the debt and the consequences for non-payment, and recover funds on their behalf – there’s nothing proprietary about that.

Collection agency sales reps and company owners pretend what we do is complicated -- they hide it behind 56 page power point slide decks or sidestep the question ... it's not a black box process, and when we don't share what we do ... EXACTLY what we do and how we do it we hurt our own companies and our industry's reputation.

hile it isn’t rocket science, it is a gigantic game of Trivial Pursuit and we have to know the answer to all 6,000 questions – consumer privacy laws, collection laws, statutes of limitations, specific nuances of a client’s portfolio, how to handle the change of ownership or a sale in bulk from a debtor company, piercing the veil of limited liability, how to code exports to report to the credit bureau … you get the idea.

On top of that, there’s nuance – negotiation and language is different from collector to collector, and portfolio to portfolio.  And let’s face it, not everyone is built to collect – I could tell our clients exactly how we make the calls, what we say, how we respond to objections, and they still wouldn’t want to do it, or have the time and focus to do it efficiently.  I could show anyone our contact management software interface, and how we manage accounts, and there’s no way they would have the time or inclination to code it up and build their own software themselves.  I could give them a tour of any of our (post-Covid) offices and have them meet our team, and there’s no way they could duplicate our work environment or culture.

hen you look at a company like Google, it’s not a secret how their search engine works in general terms – it scrapes websites for key words and builds a search list on an algorithm.  They share a ton of things about their culture, and there are several Google personalities you can talk to about how their company works and innovates in new areas.  Now, that search engine algorithm is constantly changing, and secret, but what they do is not.

Look at other companies -- everyone knows how Uber, Amazon, or your local 5-star restaurant work in general, and you can even see pictures of an Amazon warehouse or watch a famous restaurant cook prepare a meal ... it doesn't mean you are going to start taking dinner reservations or shipping boxes all over the country tomorrow.

ere’s the thing – when you come clean with your competitors, your clients, and consumers about how what we are doing isn’t secret, and you are transparent about how you perform collections, you aren’t giving away state secrets … you are building transparency, accountability, and trust.  If you are good at what you do, you shouldn’t be ashamed or secretive about how you do it, and if you are really good at what you do, no one can duplicate it.

o while I post all sorts of collection techniques and management tips on this blog, people tend to ask me all the time ‘aren’t you giving away all your secrets?’.  They aren’t secrets at all.  Our company is doing just fine, and no one has stolen anything from us – and maybe, we’ve added some accountability to our industry, and helped some credit managers and collection agency owners out there.

ot a question about process?  I’m clearly an open book, and I’m happy to share the ‘rocket science’ of collections – drop me an email or give me a call.

hanks kindly,

lair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
INGSTON Data & Credit
ambridge, Ontario

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