EVERYONE Won’t But SOMEBODY Will

In a way this should be the motto of all debt collectors. When I started as a bill collector in the late 1970’s one of the first things I was taught by GC Services was that it was a numbers business. I was told I could expect that only X% of the accounts would pay so I should expect severals “no’s” for every ‘yes”. So when I got a no or a yes I was a happy collector because I was told that my job entailed getting “no’s and yes’s”. This helped me from getting frustrated as both the “no’s and yes’s” were part of the job expectation.

So the truth about debt collection is its a contact sport, get that contact with the consumer and find out if its a no or a yes. Most US trainers do not teach this anymore they teach a mentality that the yes is the only answer that your looking for which leads to a much different mental attitude for the debt collector. If my job is to get several no’s to my one yes then I am just as happy to get the third no in a row as I am to get the one yes, as its moving me closer to another yes.

So the statement that everyone won’t, but someone will explained the mentality that is really required to deal with todays consumers. This is the message a very compliant shop will push to their staff. This is what Lighthouse Consulting teaches in its collector training classes.

Here are other segments included in the Lighthouse Collector Training program;

  • Listening skills
  • Patience pays off with information
  • Use the mute button to hear better
  • Sell on term not payment amount
  • Own the negotiation with one easy move

The Lighthouse training program focusses on teaching collector skills not compliance requirements or asset class distinctions. We teach everything your not already teaching and we will reenforce your primary teaching solutions at the same time. We teach the collectors from their level and do not try to teach over their heads.

The program is a 3.5 hour program and can be performed for as little as $60 per staff member *with a minimum of 50 staff. Everyone won’t train the basics but Lighthouse does.

Call Phillip W. Duff for more info at 305-853-8773

Three Top Trends In Debt Collection Contacts

The debt collection industry is designed to contact the consumers and disposition the accounts. If the consumer was convinced to pay the account ,that is the desired disposition but no matter if the the disposition is deceased, bankrupt or other statuses the purpose of the contact is to disposition the account. So what are the three top contact trends to get that disposition posted?

As the top operational consultant in the debt collection industry since 2001 I have seen many agencies and law firm strategies to collect and contact consumers. Once the consumer has been identified and the initial talk off is executed what are the three most likely scenarios for that contact?

The first is that the debtor will say “I do not have the money”. 

Well we are all very used to that one but whats the best way to handle that rebuttal? What Lighthouse Consulting teaches is to just listen till you hear something better from the consumer. If the collector has performed the talk off correctly then the last thing said by him or her was something close to “My client shows a balance of $1.234.56 dollars and they desire it paid in full today, how would you like to pay this bill today by card or check?”.

Most collectors cannot just listen to the consumer they prefer to talk but if a collector is trained to ask for the payment in full and just push the mute button till he/she hears a payment offer it’s a game changer.  If the collector can listen long enough he can easily move to the next scenario by the debtor making any kind of offer of repayment.

Most consumers will first say I have no money, then if the collector is still quiet they will give a reason for their non payment and if still nothing from the collector they will offer a small token repayment offer. Now you move to the next scenario. The trick is getting that collector to make the request for payment in full and just listen.

The second scenario is most likely to be “I can pay you $10 a month”. 

Once you have gotten the consumer to offer any repayment plan its all up to how well you can negotiate the deal. This is what the debt collector is looking for, a willing consumer. Now the trick is to gather enough info from the consumer that will lead you to methods of repayment such as a 401K, available line of credit, deferred car payment or other way to pay the bill or negotiate the best possible arrangement or repayment.

The last most likely scenario is “I don’t owe that bill”. 

This is much harder to deal with than the two above rebuttals as you have to try to get the real story so you can determine if its a real, legit dispute, a lie or a partial dispute. Handling disputes is very important and requires a patient debt collector who is able to and willing to listen to the dispute. The biggest job at this point is clearly to document the issue and either use docs already provided by the client to get to the real truth and settlement or to send the details to the client for further documentation of the debt.

So what does all this mean, whats the takeaway? Well in my opinion It reenforces the fact that quality training is required in todays marketplace. If you need more information on The Lighthouse Consulting Collector Training Program contact us at 305-853-8773.

It’s Good To Be Crazy, It Opens Up So Many More Options

I have been called many things in my career and crazy was included. I have always looked at problems differently even when I was a child. My first job at age 15 was in a donut shop and I told the owner on the second day of my employment that he should move the machines closer together to reduce the mess on the floor and reduce lost icing which is what was all over the floor that was my job to clean. Of course he looked at me with the eyes of an adult being told what to do by a snotty nosed kid that was working for $2.25 hourly. But two weeks later he moved the equipment just as I suggested.

It was quite crazy to tell your boss how to run his business but thats what I have been doing ever since. As a consultant to the debt collection industry my job is to tell successful business owners how they can be more successful. To tell them how they can improve their processes and strategies to reduce costs and increase collections. You have to be crazy to tell a collection agency owner how he has left money on the table, how he has failed in spite of his success. Its a fine line.

But the truth is doing debt collection the way we were all taught by the masters will no longer work. The business has changed so much that just making the calls will not result in the best results. You have to have a strategy and and great technology in place.

What I find in most engagements is that the agency has the view of the technology they need but they do not have the expertise to set up the strategies. For example most agencies have realised that a self cure strategy must exist so they spent lots of time looking at online payment sites and then picked one because of some features they saw in the demo. But when they set up the technology and begin to use it they do not get the results they are looking for. The problem is in most cases the way they set up the technology. The most common mistake I see starts with the login for the debtor. Recently when looking at a new clients pay site records I noticed that 45% of the people who came to the site abandoned because they could not log in. They agency was requiring that the debtor have the account number to login and many debtors did not have the letter in front of them. Also most of the debtors were on cell phones and the site was clunky on a cell phone interface. I had them change the login to their last name and last 4 of their SSN and the abandonment rate reduced to 8% from 45%.

So todays strategies are outside the box we were taught by the masters. They also include things that the old school collectors never imagined, emails, voice mail drops, messages on hold music, text messages, social media and so much more. Creating all these stratagies to get the debtor to login and pay online are new to the industry and do not fit the methods of normal debt collection. What should the email say and not say? Is it best to dunn the debtor with an email or just lightly push them to login and explore payment options? This is where you need a professional.

I practically invented self cure and I have been helping agencies to set up the surrounding strategies that drive that debtor to the payment site. The wording and timing of emails, voice mail drops and other communications that follow a specific strategy are the most effective. I have been doing this longer than anyone so my failures have now driven my success in this field. I had to get crazy to figure the best strategies as the traditional collection tactics I was taught decades ago were not effective.

The second biggest mistake is not setting up the reporting to evaluate the strategies. If the debtor was sent a letter, received 2 phone messages and a voice mail drop which one was the strategy the made them go online and pay the balance in full? You need to know that to evaluate the strategies. Most pay sites are not connected to your system in a manner that these straggles are identified to a reporting system. I can help you cover those gaps so you can get the data.

Are you getting the best results you can from your self cure strategies? Need a tune up? Lighthouse Consulting is the answer. Just a 5% increase in online payments can mean thousands of dollars of profit more each week for most agencies.

Give Phillip w. Duff a call at 305-853-8773 for more info my services.

Problems with hiring quality staff? This works like crazy!

As a consultant I have my finger on the pulse of the debt collection industry but even a layman can see that hiring staff is the biggest hurdle in the US today. The $12-$15 hourly employee in the US is a difficult group to hire and train. First they really don’t want an entry level job and they feel they already know everything so training is tough.

Many of my clients come to me to solve this issue and I tell them It’s a social issue not a business issue. I can’t fix the world, I can’t fix the way these employees grew up, but I can fix the problem.

Yes I can fix it by inserting a different culture of staff. Now your wondering where in the United States I will find a different culture than what seems to exist in every City and State in the US. Well the new dilute is not in the US it’s in Jamaica. These employees have none of the same sense of entitlement of the US staff. The staff in Jamaica are happy to have a job and want to be trained.

Lets back up some now. Call Centres are the second largest industry on the island of Jamaica. Vistiprint, Xerox, Fingerhut, AT&T, Verizon, Direct TV and hundreds more have call centres here. Why you ask, great labor rates, great staff and English speaking. Honestly its the ROI. So the idea of a call centre here is not a new idea and the staff have been working different campaigns for decades.

So how do you take advantage of this labor pool without having to figure out the new culture and a new country to do business in? Lighthouse Consulting Jamaica can provide a turn key solution to you as cheap as $10 hourly including labor, technology and support. Yes for just $10 hourly you can get;

An employee

Computer station

Hi speed Internet connection

Cubicle

Chair

IT support

HR support

So thats an all in cost of just $1600 a month per seat. So that collector has to collect just $1600 in fee to break even. I bet your number in the US is 3X to that number or closer to $5000.

All this and the staff are really more trainable and more willing to work. This is how you solve your staffing problems.

Now your saying “but my clients won’t let me outsource to another country”. Well its not outsourcing the way I help you set this up its your office, you own it. Lighthouse is just your landlord, IT and HR support. The office is in your name, Ill show you how to set up everything you need to open your satellite office in Montego Bay or Kingston, Jamaica.

Call Phillip W. Duff now for more info at 305-853-8773.

My Life In Jamaica And The Heat Of Summer

Well its July in the Caribbean and its hot, not as hot as it’s been in the Western US but it is hot. In Jamaica air conditioning is a luxury not a expectation. Homes here traditionally have AC units only in the bedrooms. Most locals have no AC as electricity is one of the more expensive things on the island. There are no natural resources to burn to run electric plants so Jamaica ships in natural gas from the US to run its plants.

So since my last post lots has happened and a lot more has just gotten delayed in government circles. I have been trying to get all my local docs such as a drivers licence and it is just a big circle of bureaucracy. So to get a new bank account open I needed to register with the NIS office, the National Insurance Scheme. I gathered my local friend/guide and proceeded to the NIS office to get the simple doc which I was told only required proof of your birth to get. I had had my guide go to the NIS office the Friday before to make sure what was required so as not to waste a trip. The following Tuesday we went to the office and it had moved and no-one knew where the government office had moved to. We kept asking people in Sam Sharpe square in Downtown Montego Bay where the NIS office was located a couple days earlier and got a lead as to the new offices location.

Upon arriving at the address given we found a hardware store that reminded me of a big Ace Hardware or a small Home Depot. We abandoned that search and moved on to the next thing on the list buying a TV that I will use as a computer screen at my home office. While we were there we called the NIS office and got no answer. But the guy in the store had a cousin that worked there and called her cell phone to find out that the office was really inside the hardware store from before. We proceeded back to the hardware store and located the temporary office, they are remodelling the one in Sam Sharpe Sq. but they had no phones or computers and could not help me get a NIS card, they suggested I return in a week or so. Welcome to Jamaica.

I was able to get the card in just 20 minutes while visiting Kingston the next week but the drivers license is still in the works. I am getting used to all the delays and hurdles as well as its now my expectation it will take a long time to complete anything so when something happens easily I am surprised and if it takes all day I am prepared as I blocked out the whole day and brought water and snacks.

I spent lots of time last week listening to recordings of the collectors for a particular project that is about 6 weeks into production and was very impressed with the staffs skills. They are performing very well kudos to the clients trainers that came down from the US.

Well Sumfest http://reggaesumfest.com is starting, its the biggest Reggae event in the world, 7 days of music and partying. Its based in Montego Bay so I expect lots of traffic and crazy US and Canadian tourists. Its good for the city in many ways but I like that everything is getting cleaned and painted for the event. It seems like some of these areas only get this attention annually but it really helps the look of the city. All the businesses have new signage, streets are cleaned and curbs have fresh yellow paint. This years festival is the biggest ever.

So if your following this blog your likely interested in agents in Jamaica and this blog shows how valuable my program is by guiding you through all the government hurdles and keeping your costs level even if things like the electric bill increases drastically. No matter what happens your costs are consistent with my program. Call me to learn how you can have staff and overhead in Jamaica at just $10 hourly.

Where’s the elephant hiding in your business?

When I first began helping my clients open up their collection offices in Jamaica it became apparent that that the obvious is often hidden. The problem its hidden from us by our own prejudices and things we have always been told. About a year ago a girl on the island said to me in answer to simple question something that has stuck with me and fits so many situations on the island. She stated “It’s cheaper to buy 50 paint brushes than a paint machine”.

What was meant by the statement? Well in Jamaica labor is cheaper than a machine and it does not require gas, maintenance and does not break down. As Americans involved in the debt collection business we know that the biggest line item on your P&L is labor. We have always been taught this and we believe it but the truth is “Its the Elephant hiding in your business strategies”.

hidden elephant_4ac1e49e108f3.jpg

Labor is cheap and ultra effective in Jamaica. The call centre industry is booming and has been the number two industry on the island for decades. Tourism in number one of course but Xerox, Vistaprint, AT&T and many more American call centres are based in Jamaica. There is said to be 1 call centre worker for every 10 people. The Jamaican staff that I can help you hire are very trainable unlike their US counterparts. The staff being hired in the US as collectors these days are difficult at best but you already know that.

If you own or run a collection operation in the US you should call me to discuss how you can reduce that labor line item and gain a better staff member at the same time. I can help you set up seats for as little as $10 USD per hour, per seat. That means you just need to recoup $400 in fee to pay the costs for a weeks work and facility charges. After that your in the profits on the total costs. The great thing is that for the $10, I’m including the internet connection, computer equipment, IT, HR and cubes in that cost. It is all inclusive!

Come down and look around. Let me show you other shops. Look and you will be doing business in Jamaica. Ya Mon!