May I first say that 2013 has started off OUTSTANDING for this writer as my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide brought home yet another National Championship! This was done with a complete team effort each member of the team has their own specific task, skill sets and character traits to the field each day to achieve that ultimate success.
Champions just as true Skip-Tracers are a rare breed—set apart from the average person in their thought processes as natural puzzle solvers who have the ability to think a little left of center. Just throw an obstacle in their path and watch how they begin looking at how to go around, under, or over said obstacle. In the military it is called, “To Adapt and Overcome”, and no one personifies this motto more so than a true skip-tracer.
Due to the rarity of the mix of qualities a skip-tracer possesses, it is a real challenge for most companies to fill the position of a Skip-Tracer on their staff. With that said, every good tracer I have ever known does have these following characteristics in common. The next time you are looking to fill that position or enhance your own abilities, I suggest you look for this following set of traits. Now be warned: many people have some of these traits, but very few possess them all—and that, my friends, is what makes them so unique and valuable.
1. A Good Telephone Voice:
Also known as the gift of gab–mastering the ability to ask for help rather than demand it. Ordinary mortals beg, plead and demand. A true skip-tracer knows how to “Sweet Talk”. It is the rare gift of being able to extract information from someone without them being aware of the true intent, while leaving the subject with the satisfaction of having enjoyed a good chat with an old friend. Knowing the types of questions to ask and when to ask then such as the Open Door and Closed Door questions which we cover in future writings.
A true professional doesn’t rush to judgment or give up at the first obstacle. Rather, he possesses the ability to exercise patience while working the file and the leads in a systematic, detail-orientated way.
A never give up attitude. When you are hunting man, it’s a game of who is smarter and who is more determined—you or them? I like to think of it as adult hide & seek for high stakes!
This is my favorite trait: A good skip-tracer thinks outside the box; a great one never saw the box. You have to possess a keen imagination to be able to take any conversation in a new direction at the drop of a dime. Humans are the only creatures with this ability on the planet and I assure you it is a skip-tracers greatest asset! Having the ability to place yourself in ones shoes and anticipate your preys movements.
It’s a mundane, but ultimately rewarding practice: Keep all notes in a detailed manner, documenting the dates, the questions asked, the answers given, the demeanor of the subject, noting whether they were helpful or aggressive… Detailed notes equip the tracer with an outline to compare conversations with different people, laying bare any patterns in order to see if the stories match up. Despite all of the modern technology we have in today’s world, nothing still beats a good old-fashioned Skip Guide. If you do not use a skip guide at the present time you are missing an invaluable tool go to www.skipguru.com and download at no charge from the resource area.
*One last disclaimer: Common sense should be liberally employed with trait number 3. At times we refuse to give up a case when simple economic sense tells us that we do not want to spend five thousand dollars on a twenty-five hundred dollar balance. We skip-tracers are proud of our persistence, but don’t let the ego monster get in the way.
Until Next Time….Follow me down the path to better skip-tracing!
Alex Price is a nationally-recognized expert on the Art of Skip Tracing and author of Skip Tracers National Certification Program with over 25+ years of experience in skip-tracing, collections and public speaking. Alex began his career with Barnett Bank as a field representative collecting past-due accounts. He then moved to World Omni Finance, where over the next ten years he worked in all aspects of collections and handling the nationwide charge-off skip portfolio.
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