Lighthouse Consulting Employee Survey Program

Get “E.S.P.” On Your Staff and Save $200 for a Limited Time By Purchasing the Lighthouse Employee Survey Program Before October 5th, 2014.

As a consultant to the ARM industry, I have developed many tools to help owners and managers get a TRUE idea of what is going on within the organization at the supervisor and staff level. What I most often discover is that most owners only have a clear picture of what the managers are doing and saying and have little to no contact with the staff performing the daily tasks. In most every case, I discover that those individuals performing the daily tasks of the agency or law firm, are many times the best suited to provide valuable insight and propose enhanced operational techniques that can drive tremendous efficiency and productivity…if someone would only reach out and ask for their input.

This is why I have created The Lighthouse Employee Survey Program; a service designed to uncover hidden problems and gain enhanced operational insight from your staff. I use this program extensively with my consulting clients and I am never disappointed with the outcome.

I have seen an increase of staffing issues in my recent consultations that stems from many factors in today’s marketplace. I have developed many questions to help me and my clients understand those staffing issues so solutions can be developed to increase productivity and improve staff contentment and job performance. For the first time I am now offering this tool to the industry as a service.

The Lighthouse Employee Survey Program or Lighthouse ESP is now available online for managing partners and owners to use and evaluate the current state of their staff. In addition Lighthouse consulting will review the completed surveys, compile the results and issue a synopsis of the findings with recommendations for improvement.

The Lighthouse ESP Program Includes:

Secure, online survey for all staff to complete
Data aggregation of the input
Review of data by Lighthouse Consulting
Written synopsis of the findings and recommendations from Lighthouse Consulting
1 hour phone consultation with Phillip W. Duff the CEO of Lighthouse Consulting
Starting at just $399 (Regularly $599) and limited to the first 25 respondents
Contact Lighthouse Consulting by Completing the Form Below, or Call Us at (904) 687-1687

The Lighthouse Employee Survey Program starts at $399 (Regularly $599) for up to a 49 staff surveys and then just $5 per employee survey thereafter.

This offer is strictly limited to the first 25 respondents and the offer expires on October 5th 2014.

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How to Build a Great Incentive Program

How to Build a Great Incentive Program for Today’s ARM Industry

Now that incentives are more relative to compliance than production, and as the CFPB defines what they desire to see from an incentive program, how do you meet all these requirements and still build an incentive that motivates the staff to perform? This is a question I am getting weekly from my clients.

I have been teaching the same solutions for a decade as it relates to incentive issues. You must praise the behaviors you desire in the staff and provide penalties for non-compliance so as not to reinforce negative behaviors. This is the same thing that the CFPB is doing. They are requiring and defining new rules and providing penalties for non compliance.

Today, many companies are using perverse incentives or incentives that are creating the problem issues in the firm. Their incentives are actually working in reverse to the company’s current goals. They are using the same incentives from 10 years ago even though they realize the rest of industry has been changing rapidly.  Many processes have remained the same in many collection agencies and firms over this period of time as a result of complacency or simply not understanding there may be a better way of doing things.

So what are the key performance indicators (KPI’s) for a great incentive program? Well this is a moving target and will not be the same for any two agencies or law firms. KPI’s should focus on the current deficiencies of the agency or firm and align in such a way to drive operational change and efficiencies as a result. These line items will be a moving target if you are effective at the incentive.

For example if your firm has a problem with attendance and timeliness try this.  Create a fine or some type of penalty for the actions of the late and tardy.  If you design the program correctly the problem will go away in 90-180 days and the program will no longer be needed. It is likely that another deficiency has been identified by then and a program can be built to alter that undesired behavior.

What I have been teaching for 13 years is to create a scorecard system for the staff…all the staff.  The line items on the scorecard will vary but the scorecard is designed to help the company and the staff to understand their deficiencies and build training and incentive programs to overcome those issues.

 So what are some of the line items in the scorecard?

  •  Attendance
  • Compliance
  • Production
  • Accounts worked per hour
  • Conversion rates
  • Contact percentages
  • Compassion
  • Call escalation
  • Dollars per hour
  • Teamwork
  • Complaints





Now not all of the items on the scorecard will be scored at the same level so a weighting percentage must also be created. Maybe attendance is weighted as 30% and compliance is weighted at 50% and remaining 20% is based on production.  This equals the 100% of the staff’s scorecard currently, but in three months the attendance may be taken away and accounts worked per hour used in its place as an example. As the company identifies opportunities for improvement throughout this department the scorecard can change to create that desired behavioral change.

Remember, there should be a scorecard for every staff member in the company, not just production staff, but all of the staff, and it must be created and discussed EVERY MONTH. Then you must create and document a plan to help the staff member overcome their individual challenges. All this can be done in the scorecard document.

The most important thing to understand is that you must use this scorecard in a positive manner to motivate the employee and not to beat the employee over the head with. If you focus merely on the scoring and not on the improvement and coaching aspect of the exercise, you will fail to get any buy-in from the employee and the improvements in performance, attitude and motivation will be minimal.

For help with developing and implementing an effective scorecard based incentive program, contact Lighthouse Consulting at




Predictions for the Future 2014

Debt Collection, Legal Collections, CFPB and Debt Buying 

What does the future hold for the debt collection industry? Well, it’s not clear but there are many factors that seem to be providing insight into the future of the industry.

Embrace Technology

The first thing that will change is technology and how the industry uses the technology. As the industry slowly moves towards electronic communication, technology will be more important to the process. Many collection agencies have begun to invest in technology that allows them to use email and text messaging to help them collect bills, provide documentation and maintain payment schedules. I believe that the use of electronic messaging will become more prevalent over the next 2-5 years and will replace the phone call sooner than later.

Fewer Buyers…Bigger Buyers

One of the next things that will happen is the loss of the debt buying industry as we have known it. As debt issuers move to “No Resale restrictions” and some issuers move to insource their debt collection, debt buying as we know it will radically change or disappear altogether. Only a few major debt buyers will be left and their profit margins will be fair but low due to the compliance costs associated with the issuer and CFPB guidelines. This is evinced today by the expansion of debt buyers, like Encore Capital’s movement into other countries and the many statements to investors in the regulatory filings of publicly traded debt buyers about the changing industry.

Collection agencies will face many changes as those placing debt for collection will continue to add more and more onerous burdens on those collecting to ensure regulatory compliance up and down the vendor chain. Technology will be the way bills are collected in the future as text messages, emails and online payment sites become the norm.   Staffing levels will continue to decrease and more and more debt will be collected though the use of technology. This will allow the agencies to reduce fees and stay compliant but it will reduce profit margins to single digits. This will also drive larger agencies to grow and smaller ones to decline in numbers.

On a side note; if you still don’t have a way to take and process payments from debtors on your website, you are at least a full decade behind the curve and leaving substantial revenues on the table.  News Flash…This internet thing has finally caught on and it looks like it’s here to stay.  Get on board!

Issuers are Moving to do More and More Internal Collections

Law firms will be especially challenged as issuers move to better control the collection process and tie their hands to pre-suit collections. Many issuers will be spending lots of internal resources to manage any outsourced debt and this will highly impact the legal collection market. As the issuers reduce the volume of placements by only placing pre-qualified accounts, the legal collection marketplace will be squeezed by a reduction in fees and this will result in single digit profit margins in the legal space.

The struggles created by the CFPB as evidenced by the Fred Hanna acquisitions will also make the legal space a difficult one, larger firms are needed to meet the large compliance requirements of issuers.  Yet, the CFPB seems to be pushing for smaller firms. The smaller firms that have to meet the strict issuer requirements cannot make money due to the cost of the compliance department. Most law firms have a lawyer assigned full-time to meet compliance requirements.  This department usually has one employee for every 20 staff as well. This leaves the small firm with 40 staff and 3 lawyers with a compliance department of one full-time attorney and two full-time staff or $200K annually in staffing costs alone.

Ok, so what will the CFPB do? Whatever they want to do, they are like the 500 pound gorilla; he can do whatever he wants to do. I believe they will embrace electronic communication in the next 3 years and they will continue to expand their focus and begin to drill down to more agencies and law firms starting in late 2015. As they investigate bigger entities they will follow the collections to the agencies and firms used by the same entities. So if your agency is small but has large clients, you are going to be in the line of fire.

So what does the future of collections look like?  It is based on electronic communication and online payment sites resulting in single digit profits for several large companies and firms. My recommendation is for you to move toward better technology so when the times change, you are not struggling to learn new technology…you’re already a master of it.