Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Debt Collection Tips

Are you new to the collections industry? Are you not exactly sure what to say or to do? The collection industry can be both exciting and frightening. There is a lot to learn. From the laws that pertain to the debt collection industry, to using the proper technique and the whole abiding by company policy thing. Don't Worry. Below we have listed some of thoughts, the ideas and the memories of experiences' past. Hope you find the useful.
Confirm the debtor's information
Document everything in your notes
Sound like a friend not a collector
Always ask with confidence
Make the debtor aware the responsibility is on them
Keep the debtor honest
Always be professional
Always control the conversation
Sound assertive
Help with budgeting
Ask for the money
Keep it immediate
Encourage timely payments
Develop multiple ways to contact debtor
Be confident
Create convenience
Keep disconnected telephone numbers
Keep references up to date
Handle the objection during the call
What are the nick names
Never under estimate silence
Loosing control - put them on hold
Establish and maintain good debtor relationship
Feel where the debtor is coming from
Be consistent
Be patient
Keep it simple
Be ready to write notes
Now you have got the foundation. The seed has been planted. The baton has been passed. You are now in charge. It is up to you to make it grow. Make it happen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Great Debate

There is a debate that has surfaced in the skip trace world in the past few years.
No, we are not talking about the battle over paper or plastic or even the cola wars. Should you use real skip tracers or just databases? This has crossed the mind of more than one collection manager. There are pros and cons to each side.
Let's take a look at just using databases first. It starts with subscribing to a database which offers name, address, phone number and so on. You input the information you have onto the request screen and request new information. The updated information is then returned to you. Usually it is not very (a relative term) expensive. You then use the information recently obtained to collect funds, property or whatever you are after. When it is described like that it sounds perfect doesn't it?
Unfortunately now for the down side. The database companies work very hard at keeping their information up to date and some of them are very reputable companies. That being said, here is how it works. The database companies mainly get their information the same ways. Everything from magazine subscriptions to public records are mixed together to get information on everyone. However, even with their best attempts, it does not take long to become outdated. The database companies claim that they are kept up to date most of the time. But, that is the same thing as saying, we have just skip traced every person in the country and we have their information. That doesn't seem to be possible.
Now the other side of the debate. A skip tracer is a living being that uses different resources, skills and experiences to obtain the needed information to find a person or property's whereabouts. Using every legal means they obtain the information that they are after. Once they find, they verify the information to ensure that it is correct. A skip tracer has the ability to read between the lines and put two and two together above and beyond just getting the requested information. Again, this sounds like the perfect solution.
Yes, there is a down side to only having skip tracers. Usually they are more expensive than databases. Sometimes they are moody or miss work due to sickness, vacation and other human tragedies. Even worse, sometimes they quit. Where does that leave your company?
Both sides can make an argument here. Both have really good points to validate their use. However, both have short comings that can reduce YOUR productivity. Oh what is a good manager to do? One costs less, but you don't really know if the information is correct. The other will take in all of the variables, read between the lines and verify the information gathered but can run the risk of being out of work due to human reasons.
So what is the answer? Put simply, a combination of the two is the answer. How much of each will be determined by the needs and abilities of your company.
Money is going to be the key. Does your company have the funds to hire and properly train a skip tracer? A skip tracer (just like any other tool) needs to be kept in proper working order to be as efficient as possible. This is done by providing constant educational opportunities to be kept abreast of changes in the laws, techniques, contacts and resources available to the skip trace industry.
Have your resources be as beneficial as possible. Stay in close contact with the database companies and the outsource companies that you use so that you get the most out of your resource dollar. Develop a tier system for your skip trace efforts. Let the value of the account determine exactly how much is done. You don't want to spend a thousand dollars to collect a ten dollar account. An easy way to do this is to separate your skip accounts into three levels: high balance, medium balance and low balance. Then assign exactly what steps will be done for each level. Work smarter not harder. Finally, if you determine that you can't hire someone full time but you can add the skip trace responsibility to the schedule of a current employee. Let there be a separation of duties. You have to think in a different mindset sometimes when you are skip tracing so determine a time that they will only do skip tracing.
These are the basics. As always if you have any questions ask a trusted and reputable person or company to help you work out the fine points.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tools of a Skip Tracer

Would you go to a dentist if the only tools she used are a chainsaw and a stick? Would you take your car to be serviced by a mechanic whose only tools were a chocolate bar and hairspray? Would you want to your child to go to an elementary school that only taught from a set of 1964 encyclopedias?
Do you see the connection?
It is simple- really. Every industry has tools that can be specific to that industry. The dentist would never use a chainsaw (even though it may feel like it). They use tools that are designed and that are necessary for the successful completion of their task- to assist with proper dental hygiene. The same holds true for ever other profession and industry. At the same time, to take tools that may not be useful to an industry can slow down the process.
So here comes the question. Why is it that those that skip trace do not utilize the tools that are available to our profession or we try to use the tools of other professions to do our job?
What are the tools available to the skip trace industry? You've heard me talk about some of them. Databases, each other and our minds. But, what are some other tools available to us? Below is a list. I'm not calling it a complete list, because we think out side of the box and have incredible imaginations, so the list will never be completed. Not all of these will apply to your needs, but maybe it will spark some ideas and you can add to the list.
Have caller ID setup on ALL incoming calls. When you ask for a debtor for their number, is it matching up with the number they are calling from? If possible, through you phone provider have a report available to you per day of all received calls (just incase you miss it and they don't leave a message). Any numbers that you do not recognize reverse that number and see what you get.
Most of us already use these. They can be very useful for obtaining additional information on your debtor or those around them.  There are several more available, do some research and see which best suites your needs.
These websites have gathered tons of links to public record sites. Most of them
separate the information by state.
On these websites you enter various information of the debtor, public records and
other websites are searched and the results are provided in a quick easy to
understand format. . These really speed up the investigation process.
This is where I daydream about a database that you can enter the information for two different people at the same time. Then with the same process of the other databases information is researched on both subjects then is compared for anything that is the same and that information is returned to the user. This way you can determine if there is a spouse or roommate or significant other. The reason that I daydream is because to my knowledge no such database exist at this time. However, if it does PLEASE let me know.
Whatever you call it. A worksheet, a checklist or a form. This is what the investigator uses to make sure that every stone has been turned, every nook and cranny (what's a cranny?) has been checked for information to help locate the debtor.
This provides another option to reach out a touch the debtor. By sending a letter with PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED printed on the envelope is an easy way to get determine if the debtor has moved and left a forwarding address. The downside to sending a letter is the turn around time.
There are two different approaches direct and indirect. Direct is determining the information that you need contact the people that have that information and ask them for it. Indirect is also called pretext or social engineering. Determine what information that you need then develop a story, contact the people that have that information and present your story so that they will give you the information that you need. Sometimes pretexting is illegal; please make sure you know both the federal and your state laws that apply.
This is a service provide by various telephone companies. When someone calls a trap line the number is captured. It does not matter if it is non published or published you will get a report of all numbers. You can setup a standard toll free number to do this but it takes up to 30 days to get results.
This is a phone line that is simple answered as "hello". It is not answered with the company name or with the professionalism of the company. It is answered in the same way that you would you home phone.
There are companies that can be used or phone systems that can be purchased allowing the user to change their outgoing Caller ID information.
Collections and skip tracing need to be physically separated. It helps with the mindset of the skip tracer as well as not allowing the other party to hear a demand for payment in the background.
A spider web works because there are many strands connected. If your debtor is running from you they are probably running from someone else. We need to work together.
Here is where the rubber meets the road. Skip tracing is a game of hide and seek. The debtor is hiding you are seeking, it's that simple.
A skip tracer MUST stay up to date with laws, procedures and resources to be the best that they can. About a once a year seminar that includes laws, processes, skill sets and resources with the ability to network should do the trick.
We have the skills. We have the resources. We have the tools. Lets show the rest of the world how the professionals do it!
Oh, if you come up with some more to add to the list-please send a copy my way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Business Lesson from Baseball

Few personalities dominated the American scene like basball slugger George Herman "Babe" Ruth. He entered the major leagues as a pitcher, but also won fame with the Boston Red Sox as a powerful hitter.
Since a pitcher can't play every day, somebody recommended Babe be placed in the outfield. This may have been one of baseball's greatest decisions.
Babe was traded to the New York Yankees in 1920, and became a superstar, media personality, and a hero to millions. He played 22 years, compiled a lifetime batting average of .342, and slammed an amazing 714 home runs.
In 1927 he also set a season record for homers with 60. That mark stood until 1961.
Babe was a large, powerful man. When I watch him in old newsreels, it appears he's swinging to hit the home run. He once said, "If I just tried to hit singles, I'd bat .600."
The Babe knew his fame came from power hitting. It's what the fans came to see, and he seldom disappointed them.
One time somebody asked Babe if he ever felt guilty that he made more money than the President of the United States. Asked Babe, "How many home runs did the President hit last year?"
Even back then, Babe symbolized a publicity secret we sometimes forget: recognition often comes to (a) the first to accomplish something, (b) the best at it, or (c) the first one to tell the world about it.