Every day I hear agents from all over the nation lament about unfair repossession fees and lender demanded concessions with allegations of compliance being the basis for their demands. It is almost ironic how many of these same people are the ones directly responsible for doing it to themselves.
The industry is, in it’s nature, a very closed world with a great deal of mistrust that agencies have of their competitors and fellow owners. This is fairly natural considering it has been for the most and industry that has run amuck in the dark like feral cats for most of its history. Much of this is due to the personalities that people develop while involved in this rather dark line of business.
This is an industry of “A Type” personalities who don’t like anyone telling them what to do. Hell, why would anyone who has worked from scratch to build and maintain a good company like most of the men and women in the industry have? It is unfortunate that this same characteristic is the one that does so much damage to their own companies without them either seeing it or recognizing its negative effects.
There are an estimated 6,000 companies performing repossessions in the United States, yet a mere approximate 600 that are members of any national or state association. Couple this with the fact that there is no national trade organization, by proper definition, and the fact that the associations are as fractured and numerous as they are and it should come as no surprise that the industry finds itself marginalized by both lenders and the regulatory agencies that may soon be mandating ludicrous requirements upon them all.
This miniscule representation of the industry represents a dysfunction that allows lenders to “low ball” prices and push everyone into unsustainable business practices that, under the weight of fuel prices, insurance and overhead, tips the scales against profitability.
Does the CFPB recognize this industry as professional? Hell no! They won’t even answer basic questions nor confer with anyone in it regarding potential compliance issues. As the result, they don’t know what they’re doing and you are all at their mercy.
This whole situation could be far different if even half of the 90% of the un-association affiliated agencies joined any of the associations. The power of numbers and a stronger development of unity would leverage behind the industries ability to simply say “No” to 1980’s prices, contingency, free storage and ludicrous lender contract demands.
Unfortunately, there are far too many little shops out there that think they can make up the low profits with volume while they have scant idea what a repossession really costs themselves until they find themselves sinking deeper and deeper in the red. This parasitic practice fortunately makes them victims of their own folly but also, unfortunately undermines the intelligent and association affiliated agencies all over the country.
So, as you sit there reading this and are part of the 90%, ask yourself, has being unaffiliated to any association helped you in any way? Do you not complain about low fees and lender demanded conditions? Aren’t you a little tired of feeling like there’s nothing you can do about these things?
If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes”, perhaps it’s time you let down your guard a little and found that there is indeed brotherhood out there. No, they’re not perfect, but don’t let perfect get in the way of progress. Every voice counts and you do make a difference. Being part of the 90% will get you nowhere.
Get out there, contact the AFA, the ARA, RSIG, TFA or at least one of the many great state associations like CALR, IRA or FLACARs. These or more than marketing associations, they do actually talk and take a stand against lenders on issues like lender contracts like they did on the Chase and Primeritus contracts which they found to be too onerous on agencies and actually did get the lenders to revise them.
If you are still pessimistic on the associations, I suggest you attend NARS. You will see this brotherhood and camaraderie in person as men and women from all of the associations meet and bond in discussing and taking action in goals that have an impact on your business.
You’ve worked too hard to sit in the dark with the 90%. Join the industry. Your livelihood depends on it. Get involved or you may just as well get out of business for your own financial stability and sanity.
OK, enough of my preaching. Have a great day!