I believe these are key questions that if all are answered yes will drive engagement in 100% of your staff and yourself.

Do you have a long-term strategic vision for your company that inspires your people?

Where is your firm going?  What sort of company are you building? Successful companies engage ALL their people with a clear and compelling long-term strategic vision of what the business will look like in the future.  They set “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” (BHAG © Jim Collins) which could include your future vision of – company size, scope, locations, number of employees, what it will be doing, who it will be serving, and how it will be perceived in the marketplace etc.  In order to achieve your BHAG ©, it needs to inspire and engage ALL of your people – not just the management team.  The more specific, meaningful, and compelling the BHAG © – the greater the aligning and engaging effect this has on your people.   Have you documented a clear strategic vision / BHAG © and are ALL your people inspired and engaged by it?

Is your long-term strategic vision clearly visible to your people?

Successful companies clearly communicate and display their long-term strategic vision / BHAG ©.  This helps to attract, engage and retain the right people in order to achieve your BHAG ©.  The more visibly the BHAG © can be displayed throughout your company (e.g. on strategic plans, walls, websites, marketing materials, dashboards, monitor screens) and the more frequently it is mentioned in conversations and strategic decision making – the greater the aligning and engaging effect this has on your people.

Are your Core Values clearly visible to your staff?

Who do you want on your team?  Core values are the rules for behavior in your firm. The behavior standards you want confirmed by ALL your staff – present and future.  Many companies use vague, generic statements that do not successfully drive positive behaviors  (e.g. honesty / integrity / safety / client service).  “Real” Core Values are the well defined, measurable behaviors that make your company unique – and drive the decisions of ALL your staff every day.  Identifying your “real” Core Values, will make the staff accountable and provides a common groundwork for good decision making throughout the firm. It will increase client service levels, and drive all your hiring processes.

Are your Core Values included into your hiring and performance appraisal processes?

The excellence of your staff and their Core Values will determine the success of your strategic positioning. Strong, well communicated Core Values attract and retain employees who are the right “fit” for your culture, and drive back those who do not fit.  Core Values assist the removal of people who do not fit well with your culture.  Are your people task with your Core Values?  Have you incorporated your Core Values into ALL your processes?  (e.g. recruitment, training, performance appraisal, termination policies)?

Do you have a documented and gripping Core Purpose that clarifies why your company exists?

A Core Purpose describes why your company does what it does – beyond the financials.  Why does your company exist?  What is the difference you want to make in your staff and clients?  Staff members are more motivated and engaged when they have a clear purpose.  One that gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning, beyond simply a paycheck.  Studies show that a clear and compelling core purpose can double productivity.  Does your business have a clear and compelling Core Purpose that reminds your people of how important there are?

Do you have a documented strategic plan of the moves your company needs to make to compete over the next 3-5 years?

A Strategic Execution Plan provides a clear documented map of what your company stands for, where it is going, and how it is going to get there.  What many companies mistakenly call strategy – is actually financial planning.  Successful companies use a documented and well thought out strategic plan. A plan that assesses the competition, and the processes your company needs to compete successfully based on the current marketplace  and clearly states how your company needs to evolve and act in the next 3 – 5 years, 1 year, and 90 Days in order to guarantee your success.

Have you documented the key characteristics of your target client for your business branding?

Successful brands do not try to be all things to all people.  They focus their marketing efforts to appeal to and serve a specific target market client.

Does your brand have a clear goal statement?

What is the “position” your business has in the mind of your target client?  What perception do they have when they hear your company name. Does it separate you from the competition?  Marketing guru Seth Godin advises, “If you can’t state your position in 8 words or less, you don’t have a position.”  Does your brand have a brand promise that positions your company in the client’s eyes?

Do you have documented and gripping promise for your brand?

What is in it for the client ? Why are your different?  What is the benefit to doing business with your company?  Highly successful companies offer fewer benefits in their marketing, not more to create high value to the client

Is your positioning statement and brand promise clearly documented in your client communications?

Successful companies know that to have any chance of standing out to the client and employees it must be clearly communicated on all communications such as websites, letters and in all conversations.  Are your key marketing messages clearly and consistently stated in ALL appropriate client and employee communications?

Can ALL your people recite your positioning statement and brand promise?

Successful companies make sure every staff member can recite these factors.  If ALL your people can’t clearly and consistently state what your company does and what it offers to clients, how do you expect your clients to understand what you have to offer?

Can ALL your people recite your Core Values?

Successful companies have communicated the core values to EVERY staff member in such a way that EVERY staff member can communicate them to clients and the staff and how the company lives these values daily.

Do you use behavioral profiling tools to assess the strengths of ALL your team members?

Behavioral profiling tools teach your staff how to best influence the way they learn and communicate with people. Then the staff becomes more engaged, productive, and happy when they play to their strengths. Tools like Omnia Profile provide  information to greatly enhance staff recruitment, productivity, staff morale, communications, and client relationships.   Have you profiled ALL your team members?  Have you profiled the behavioral style of your management team as a collective group?

Are your teams highly functional?

The 5 common team dysfunctions include: 1)Absence of trust (lack of open, honest dialogue) 2) Fear of conflict 3) Lack of commitment (failure to get “buy in”) 4) Avoiding accountability, this is a big one in the ARM industry 5) and Inattention to actual results.

Successful management teams regularly assess their score on each of these common team dysfunctions and take steps to improve these areas.?

Do you measure employee engagement every 6 months?

Increasing employee engagement is proven by research to increase sales, productivity, and client satisfaction – whilst reducing accidents, absenteeism, and staff turnover.

Does your company have clearly documented strategic Action Priorities to put into practice this quarter?

Staff members are more engaged and productive when they clearly understand the specific 90 Day Action Priorities for the current quarter – and when they can clearly track their execution progress and outcomes they are accountable for.

KPI- A Performance Indicator or Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is an industry jargon term for a type ofMeasure of Performance.[1] KPIs are commonly used by an organization to evaluate its success or the success of a particular activity in which it is engaged. Sometimes success is defined in terms of making progress toward strategic goals[2], but often, success is simply the repeated achievement of some level of operational goal (zero defects, 10/10 client satisfaction etc.). Accordingly, choosing the right KPIs is reliant upon having a good understanding of what is important to the organization. ‘What is important’ often depends on the department measuring the performance – the KPIs useful to a Finance Team will be quite different to the KPIs assigned to the sales force, for example. Because of the need to develop a good understanding of what is important, performance indicator selection is often closely associated with the use of various techniques to assess the present state of the business, and its key activities. These assessments often lead to the identification of potential improvements; and as a consequence, performance indicators are routinely associated with ‘performance improvement’ initiatives. A very common method for choosing KPIs is to apply a management framework such as the Balance

 Do you measure the small handful of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) numbers every week that predict the success of your business in the future?

Most firms measure the past on a monthly basis numbers or goals. A major key to successful business execution is to also identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – and to measure and drive on a weekly basis the small handful of “predictive measures”.

Do you use a dashboard to make your goals visible every week to the staff?

Successful companies use a dashboard to graphically display their KPI numbers every week.  This forces everyone to confront the reality, and drives accountability. Ranking and color coding performance for each KPI brings the numbers to life – by making them easily understandable to everyone on your team.

Have you clearly documented who is accountable for the key roles in the business – and how their success will be measured?

What are the key functional roles in your business?  Who is performing each role currently? Is anyone performing too many roles?  Do you have more than one person claiming accountability for a role?   Do you have a clearly documented an accountability

Does your staff know the consequences for achieving success or failing the performance standards required by management or ownership every quarter?

Every functional role should have at least one objective KPI number that measures performance in that role.  Every person should have clear Individual 90 Day Action Priorities to implement each quarter aligned to the overall Company 90 Day Action Priorities.  What are the rewards for achieving success and the punishment for missing goals?

Do you follow a proven recruitment process to ensure you only employ “A” Players?

“A” Players are those people who consistently exceed the objective Key Performance Indicator performance (KPI) standards required for the role, and who also demonstrate behaviors that mirror your Core Values.  Both must be met to be an “A” Player

Has your Strategic Plan been updated in the last 90 days?

Strategic planning should be an ongoing process – not an annual event.  successful companies update their Strategic Execution Plan every 90 Days to ensure relevance with the competitive environment and to align ALL their people to the Company 90 Day Action Priorities for that quarter.  If your people are not clear on what the top 3 Company 90 Day Action Priorities are – then you are not being successful as a leader.

Do you conduct well documented and structured meetings” with your staff members on a weekly basis?

These meetings enhance a companies ability to implement the Strategic Execution Plan. Weekly 1 hour “success meetings” are valuable to hold people accountable for achievement of the companies long term goals.

Do you hold your team members accountable for implementation progress every week?

Research shows that “progress” is the #1 motivator for employees.  Make sure you can show the staff the company is improving.

Are Core Values examples discussed at every weekly meeting?

Successful companies have an agenda item on their weekly meeting where everyone must share a story of how a Core Value was demonstrated in the previous week.  This reinforces the desired behaviors and acknowledges those people who model the Core Values behaviors.

Do you review and debrief the execution of your Strategic Action Priorities at the end of every quarter?

Execution is the #1 challenge for business leaders.  Research has shown that only around 10% of companies can successfully execute a strategy.  Successful companies have a culture of execution and implementation methodologies.

Do you have a culture of accountability, clear purpose and the pursuit of profits?

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As a consultant to the ARM industry I see the lack of these things in almost every agency and law firm I visit. Most of the managers do not create a CLEAR structure for the staff to follow and when there is a breakdown in the process there is no CLEAR accountability. Very few collection shops are built on a profit business model. They instead have the same old model that provides whatever profits it provides which is why so many operators are complaining about their reduced profit margins.

Many firms have many people responsible for the same things so when something goes wrong there are no clear reasons as to why or who to train better. If you run a shop of accountability then the fault clearly lands on someone’s plate and then solutions are more clearly defined and enacted. When the entire office misses goal; who do you blame? But if you have several KPI’s and the entire team misses goals but 7 of the 10 KPI’s were hit the fault lies in the remaining KPI’s that were diminutive and there should be a person in charge if each KPI.

The truth is you can have whatever level of profit margins you desire if you build the right collection process and can locate business with those margins. OK you don’t believe me look at it this way if you say I need a 20% profit margin and have a collection process that is accountable and traceable all you need a placement that can provide that profit margin within your accountable process. Now you say this 20% business does not exist, well maybe not much these days can provide a 20% profit margins after all costs are accounted for but you see the point.

The problem with the old process of collections is it is not based on a profit quotient; it is a carried on tradition from days when profit margins were 40%.  We incented the collectors to collect more, as that is what drove profits now we have more costs buckets to consider than years past. The cost of consumer lawyers, skiptracing, technology, skip and asset location, licenses, dialers, marketing and more that has all changed over the years. Profits now come from controlling expenses!

If you want to focus your group on profits set them up as a small business within your business. Give the unit manager a budget for skip, letters and payroll and then determine the overall costs he faces with overhead. It’s a cost per seat equation;

Total costs divided by

Total number of FT revenue makers= Cost per seat

So if you have a group of 10 collectors and one manager and the cost per seat is $5000.00 monthly and you desire 20% profits the group must collect $55,000 in gross fees to cover expenses and another $11,000 for the 20% profits. Once the group has reached the $66K mark the owner has his profits of 20% and is in bonus mode. Now the owner has taught the manager how to use costs and profits to run the company. The owner can reward that staff for overachieving by sharing the overage at a high percentage maybe even 50/50.

This not only teaches the staff to work based on budgets and a fixed cost but encourages profits not just production. If you need help creating a culture of accountability, purpose and profits call Lighthouse Consulting LLC.