By Dean Kaplan+
Good management skills help collection agencies and credit departments be successful. Motivating and retaining good employees is critical to achieve short term and long term collection success. This is the first in a series of five articles dealing with how excellent management skills lead to increased productivity and success for agencies and credit departments.
Communication is the key to motivating. In collection agencies, this is true because collectors must thoroughly understand their clients, the debtors and the inner workings of the collection agency’s systems in order to be most productive and maximize the likelihood of success on each account. Debt collectors and employees in general like to know what is going on and what to expect. Keep your collectors and employees informed. By communicating regularly with collectors, our collectors feel important and necessary to the process.
One thing that has proven invaluable at our collection agency is having weekly meetings. These meetings give management a chance to regularly inform collectors of what is going on around the agency. It also provides a forum for debt collectors to share ideas or collection techniques that are working or not working. Frequently opening up a dialogue keeps collectors and management talking and leads to better overall communication throughout the organization on a daily basis.
Another benefit of communication is that it gives management a chance to recognize employees for good work. Studies have shown that recognition is sometimes more important to employees than salary. While this is not true for everyone, people in general appreciate being recognized for their accomplishments. Recognition definitely is motivating. At our collection agency, have awards frequently such as “collector of the month,” “highest monthly success rate” and “most accurate and complete month-end status reports.” These awards might come with a small bonus or an increased draw for the subsequent month, and have proven to be very motivational. Sharing this information on a daily basis during the month creates friendly competition among collectors which boosts productivity.
Managers need to show enthusiasm and passion for their work. We’ve all heard the adage “It starts at the top.” At collection agencies, this definitely holds true. If management is excited about helping its clients successfully collect past due debt, this will help motivate and keep the collectors focused and excited too. If management handles its relationships with clients and debtors respectfully, this will positively influence the collectors and how they choose to relate to clients and debtors.
Managers should work to set individual goals for the collectors who report to them. These goals need to be realistic and reachable. Each collector has strengths and weaknesses. Goals should be geared to improving strengths and reducing weaknesses. There should be measurable benchmarks against which progress can be monitored. Collectors and employees in general like to know what is expected of them. The manager’s job is to help them achieve their goals, while giving them the independence and authority to do their job. If a collector feels he or she has the tools necessary to understand the client’s collection needs, understand the debtor’s situation, and the authority to broker a deal that works for both, then he or she will feel empowered and will more likely succeed in the collection attempt.
Clearly, communication and motivation go hand and hand. Collection agencies need motivated debt collectors who are well informed and know how to do their job. At our collection agency, open communication coupled with excellent, consistent training has enabled us to achieve great collection success. The second article of this five part management skills series will deal with disciplining techniques for the collection agency. Click here if you are ready to read Discipline Strategies For The Collection Agency.
The Kaplan Group is a boutique collection agency specializing in large (over $10,000) debt collections due from businesses. Founded in 1991, the company has a stellar reputation (A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau) and is recognized as one of the leading collection agencies for results on large and complex matters.